Erik ten Hag rejected criticism of his substitutions during Manchester United’s derby defeat to Manchester City on Sunday.
The Red Devils were soundly beaten 3-0 at Old Trafford as Erling Haaland struck twice before Phil Foden’s late third, but the Dutchman’s changes during the defeat prompted concern both from pundits and fans alike.
Mason Mount was introduced at the start of the second period for holding midfielder Sofyan Amrabat but instead of added creativity United were stifled as City asserted more authority on proceedings and waltzed to a third successive win in all competitions following the October international break.
Explaining the Mount change, Ten Hag said: “To go more offensive. We are losing the game. Straight on after half time you have to be more offensive. We did it by getting Eriksen off the left side to go quicker up to Alvarez pushing and Mount for more offensive power to change the game.
“Absolutely [it made midfield less stable]. Our game plan, we were very disciplined in the first half. In the second half we make a mistake by going to the keeper in the wrong moment and not recovering quickly. They get into the game, get power in midfield, switch the play and make the goal. But it started with our mistake. We had to create because we are losing. You cannot wait. When you have Mount on the bench you can expect creativity.”
There were also jeers from the Old Trafford crowd when striker Rasmus Hojlund, who conceded the penalty for Haaland’s first goal with a tug on Rodri, was replaced in the 73rd minute alongside Victor Lindelof for Alejandro Garnacho and Sergio Reguilon.
It’s not the first time Ten Hag has been audibly heckled for withdrawing his Danish summer signing, having labelled boos as “positive” back in September after a 3-1 defeat to Brighton.
“Rasmus is playing every game and he is not used to it,” Ten Hag added. “We had to work very hard to get the press on. You have to protect the players and get new energy on the pitch.
“The game plan was good. It is changing the game. You are losing and you have to act as a manager, especially when you have a bench. You have to use it to get more offensive power on the pitch.”