Erik ten Hag vows to keep Manchester United grounded after win over Sheriff

Erik ten Hag has promised to correct all Manchester United players doing skills for fun after Antony’s superfluous tricks in the Europa League win over Sheriff Tiraspol.

The Red Devils completed their qualification for the knockout stage with one game to spare as Diogo Dalot, Marcus Rashford and returning Cristiano Ronaldo scored in Thursday’s 3-0 win at Old Trafford.

The result sets up a Group E showdown at Real Sociedad next Thursday, when failure to usurp the Spanish leaders in the standings will mean a knockout play-off against one of the Champions League dropouts.

But one of the main talking points after beating Sheriff was Antony’s first-half double-rotation skill – something Robbie Savage called “embarrassing” after summer signing, then said. put the ball out of play.

Great United Paul Scholes called it “ridiculous” but Ten Hag, who took the Brazil international off at half-time, is happy for such expressions of skill if done correctly.

“I don’t have a problem with it as long as it’s functional,” he said.

“Also from him, I demand more – more runs behind, more often in the box, more following and more tempo dribbling, in particular, and more pocket play.

“So we’re asking for more dominance in this game and when there’s something like that, it’s nice.

“As long as it’s functional, if you don’t lose the ball and you attract players, then it’s fine.

“But if it’s a trick because of a trick, then I’ll fix it.”

Unnecessary skills were something Ronaldo eliminated during his first spell at Old Trafford and helped him become a superstar.

The 37-year-old returned to the starting line-up on Thursday night after sitting out Saturday’s trip to Chelsea after refusing to feature against Tottenham last week.

Ronaldo endured a frustrating night in front of goal but eventually netted his 701st club goal to wrap up the win.

“He kept going and the team kept putting him in the right position,” Ten Hag said. “He kept putting himself in the right position.

“He didn’t give up. I think that’s what his whole career is about. That’s why he’s so good. In the end, he gets the reward for it.

Old Trafford not only got to see one of the all-time greats in action on Thursday, but a rising star as well.

Alejandro Garnacho, a key part of last season’s FA Youth Cup triumph, made his first United start aged 18 to a standing ovation.

“I think it was a good performance from him,” Ten Hag said. “He did what I expected of him.

“Firstly, he deserved his chance after the last few weeks. The start of the season was difficult for him.

“I wasn’t happy with him but the last few weeks I was happy with him – he has a better attitude, more resilience, more determination and what you see is a talent.

“To manage the ball in tight areas, to run behind, and especially also his tempo dribbling, he can take players and that’s a good ability in football these days, especially against opponents who defend this compact like this opponent.

“I’m happy with that. I hope for him that it’s a stimulus, this first game, and that he knows ‘yeah, I have to do better to get into the team’, to create more but don’t forget the other things. You play in a team.

Pushed on what Garnacho had been wrong, Ten Hag said, “Not bad. They’re young children, huh?

“They have to grow and elevate their personality, and they have to know what the laws and requirements of football are, of top football.

“It’s not just about a trick or scoring a goal. No, we have to win football games and that takes a lot and then you have to fulfill the highest standards every day.

“That’s what we have to teach – and not just him but all players, especially young players.”

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