Premier League English

Stumped, Erik ten Hag rejects embarrassing question and walks out of press conference

Man United manager Erik ten Hag’s post-match briefing after drawing with Bournemouth ended with an awkward comparison with the David Moyes season, with the Dutchman refusing to respond to a question about the possibility of the Old Trafford club suffering their worst season in the Premier League.

United barely managed to avoid what would have been a historic Premier League-worst 13th defeat of the season at the Vitality Stadium, after Bruno Fernandes saved the day for the Red Devils by equalising twice to salvage a 2-2 draw.

Meanwhile Newcastle thrashed Tottenham 4-0 to leapfrog over United into sixth position, with United having fewer points after 32 games than they did under David Moyes in 2013-14. That season saw United finishing seventh – their worst league finish since they came 16th in the First Division in 1989-90. When the question of a possible repeat was raised, the United boss walked out of his press conference.

“I don’t comment on that question,” Ten Hag said. “That is not important in this moment.”

Having only won one of their past seven league games – with their four-game winless run being their joint-longest of the campaign – Ten Hag again blamed the shambolic performances on the squad’s injury list.

“So there’s good players who’s available,” Ten Hag explained. “You see our back four: that’s telling the story. We know our demand but that tells absolutely the story. Especially if one of the players is struggling and we couldn’t sub him as well as we are running out of the centre halves.

“We give all we can but I am also realistic. When the full squad was there, we still could have high belief but we will keep fighting also with the players who are available, you see high potential.

“But also young players make mistakes, if they have to perform every Premier League [game] – they have proved they can compete with the best teams at the highest level – but they have to do it consistently. That’s the next step for young players.”