Erik ten Hag says Manchester United need to start making life easier for themselves after his under-fire side secured a much-needed victory against promoted Luton before the international break.
This has been a chastening second season in the dugout for the Dutchman, with Wednesday’s 4-3 Champions League collapse in Copenhagen making it nine defeats in just 17 matches.
United could ill-afford another shock as Luton came to Old Trafford on Saturday afternoon, when a mixture of poor finishing and fine goalkeeping by Thomas Kaminski frustrated the hosts.
Rasmus Hojlund, Alejandro Garncho and Marcus Rashford all had good chances, but in the end defender Victor Lindelof was the unlikely match winner in a 1-0 Premier League triumph.
“We could have made life more easy if you score goals, but we create many chances,” boss Ten Hag said.
“First half, I observed four 100 per cent chances. If you get the first then you get the second, it becomes more easy. But if you don’t score, then you know they can always drop a ball in the box and you are in trouble.
“So we had to fight to the end and it’s maybe not the prettiest, but I am happy we created many chances.”
Asked if the lack of cutting edge is a confidence issue, Ten Hag said: “I don’t think it is particularly a confidence thing because Rasmus Hojlund scored five goals in the Champions League.
“He came full of confidence into this game and it will come. Rashford scored 30 goals last season. Obviously he’s now not scoring but there will come a day he starts scoring again.
“I think the other offensive players like Garnacho, they are capable of scoring goals, so it will come.
“But what is good, we already have 13 different goalscorers in our team, so it expresses the way we want to play football.
“Everyone is attacking, everyone is defending, and also defenders with us can score goals.”
Ten Hag will be hoping this victory did not come at too great a cost, with Hojlund and Christian Eriksen limping off and requiring further assessment once their respective issues have settled down.
The United boss will be hoping the Danish duo are available in a fortnight’s time when they return from the international break with a Premier League trip to Everton.
It is a match Ten Hag will serve a touchline ban for after collecting his third booking of the season in stoppage time.
“So it was about a moment so clear, a throw-in, but it was the second time,” the United manager said.
“I was on top of it. It was so clear and obvious our ball. It was my remark, so therefore I got booked.
“We have a very competent coaching staff and they will take over of course (at Everton).
“Until a certain point I can be involved but, as I say, my coaching staff is very competent.”
United head into November’s break on 21 points from 12 matches – a perhaps surprising return given their poor performances to date.
Ten Hag’s side will be desperate to kick on after the internationals, as will Luton after winning just one match since promotion via the play-offs.
Rob Edwards’ side conceded late on in last weekend’s 1-1 draw with Liverpool and produced another promising performance at Old Trafford.
“Obviously we’re disappointed not to get anything from the game,” the Town boss said.
“I want to be on more points but in terms of where we are, we are in the fight that we thought we would be in – and everybody probably thought we were going to be in that.
“But we are progressing and improving in the way I hoped.
“I think we learned pretty quickly after the first two games and since then I think we’ve been harder to beat.”