Man Utd boss Erik ten Hag goes back on his word during latest wave of injury updates | Football | Sport

Erik ten Hag has gone back on last season’s word as he continues to relentlessly use injuries to defend his second year as Manchester United manager. The Red Devils have been struck by endless injury problems this term, damaging results and leaving Ten Hag fighting for his future at Old Trafford.

United’s successful first campaign under the Dutchman peaked with their Carabao Cup triumph last February before injuries took their toll and tarnished the club’s Europa League hopes.

However, back in April, Ten Hag stressed that United couldn’t use injuries as an excuse for poor performances at the back end of the season.

He said: “If you want to find excuses, you have to look for another club. When the moment is there, you have to contribute, and that is what we demand.

“We have more than 11 starters, so now others are on, and when their time is there, you have to show and contribute to the team; you have to be ready. That is what we expect and what we demand.”

Fitness problems have carried over into this season, with key players regularly sidelined to disrupt Ten Hag’s vision and contribute to a disastrous eight months.

And with the 54-year-old increasingly under pressure amid mass changes at the dawn of Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s £1.3billion investment, he has started to point out his squad’s unavailability more frequently to defend results.

Ahead of tomorrow’s crucial Premier League clash against Everton, Ten Hag insisted that he would boast a higher win rate if he had been struck with fewer injury problems since taking charge.

“It tells us that we are in the right direction. So imagine we had many more players available and not setbacks and injuries, could easily have 75 wins, and that tells the bright future of this team,” Ten Hag explained.

“When you compare it with other managers, other teams, or previous managers in this big club, you can see there is a bright future. It is a good balance of ages in this squad.

“Young players, middle-aged players, imagine when they are available, could easily have won from 100 games 75. It is a big difference with the stats you mentioned.”

He added: “No team can deal with so many injuries. I think we played to maximum levels if you take into respect the availability of the players. We have missed so many key players over the part of the season.

“The performances we have seen when the players are available in January and February the performances are very good. When the players were not even fit they could do even better.”

Ten Hag hasn’t had the novelty of having a set team to pick from all season, but his increased public frustration over his lack of first-choice options could be a telling sign of the pressure he’s facing.

Long-term absentees Lisandro Martinez and Luke Shaw are essential to his desire to play out of the back, while Mason Mount has also missed most of the season after being signed for £60m to upgrade the midfield.

This afternoon, Ten Hag confirmed he hoped Mount would return to action after the March international break.

Jonny Evans and Marcus Rashford are available to face Everton after suffering injury scares in the 3-1 defeat at Manchester City.

Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Harry Maguire and Rasmus Hojlund are expected to be in contention for next Sunday’s FA Cup quarter-final clash against Liverpool.

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