Manchester United are unbeaten in their last seven games in all competitions and sit sixth in the Premier League as they host West Ham on Sunday.
Erik ten Hag has won 10 of his 16 games in all competitions at Manchester United so far
Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag admits he is “really impatient” but accepts it will take time to develop the team, especially their “attacking game”.
Ten Hag took charge in the summer and has overseen steady progress with United unbeaten in their last seven games in all competitions, while they have also qualified for the Europa League knockout stages.
United sit sixth in the Premier League, a point off fourth-place Newcastle, as they host West Ham at Old Trafford on Sunday.
Ten Hag’s side have scored 16 goals in the league this season – the joint-lowest of the current top eight – but the Dutchman has called for patience regarding their offensive progress.
“Developing a team takes time,” he said. “You can’t go from zero to 100 – you have to construct it with the fundamentals before you go to the top, to the roof.
“Unfortunately it takes time, and I don’t have time and I’m really impatient but I have to [wait] so it’s quite clear.
“I think we’re getting better at defending with 11, the players are more aware of it, that we have to do it with 11.
“Also, our build-up is improving game-to-game so now we have to develop more on our attacking game but it’s the most difficult part, so it takes even more time but you can’t increase the tempo of that process. I want it but we have to take our time.”
United’s last loss came at the start of the month as they were hammered 6-3 at rivals Manchester City, but Ten Hag believes the defeat has provided them with “good lessons” as they remain unbeaten since.
He said: “We came out of the international break and in that game, we just forgot our rules, principles and beliefs.
“When you play against City and then one player makes a mistake it’s like a pack of cards – it’s massive what you see, then you get good lessons for the weeks after.
“You don’t want to experience such days. Some lessons we have learned for the future, we have to improve a lot to face opponents of the level of Man City.”
‘I hope Martial returns before World Cup’
Anthony Martial will not be part of Sunday’s squad for the game against West Ham as the Frenchman continues his recovery from a back injury sustained in the win at Everton earlier this month.
The 26-year-old, who has made just four appearances this season, is back in training, although he is still waiting to rejoin the first team.
Asked whether Martial is likely to play before next month’s World Cup, Ten Hag said: “I hope. He’s making progress, he’s working outside so he’s on the pitch so we are waiting for his step back in team training.
“He had a setback as he fell out against Everton with his back. He’s had some injuries which is really frustrating for us but also for him.
“We have seen he played good in pre-season, he has scored three goals [this season] and he had an important role in the first goal at Everton with his assist for Antony so it would be really good to have him back because he can make a difference, he can score goals, he’s also really important in linking-up and the pressing from him is really good.”
Ten Hag on Antony showboating: I’ll correct him
United warmed up for Sunday’s match against West Ham with a 3-0 home win over Sheriff Tiraspol which saw them qualify for the Europa League knockout phase.
But one of the main talking points after beating Sheriff was Antony’s double spin skill in the first half – something several pundits branded “embarrassing” after the summer signing then put the ball out of play.
Ten Hag, who went on to take the Brazil international off at half-time, said: “I don’t have a problem with that as long as it’s functional.
“Also from him I demand more – more runs behind, more often in the box, more followers in and more tempo dribbles, especially, and more playing in the pocket.
“So, we demand more dominance in this game and when there is a trick like that, it’s nice.
“As long as it’s functional, if you’re not losing the ball and you’re attracting players, then it’s OK.
“But if it’s a trick because of a trick, then I will correct him.”
Ten Hag: Ronaldo didn’t give up
Needless skills were something Ronaldo cut out 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 evening after sitting out Saturday’s trip to Chelsea having refused to come on against Tottenham last week.
Ronaldo was enduring a frustrating night in front of goal but eventually scored his 701st club goal to wrap up the victory.
“He kept going and the team kept going to put him in the right position,” Ten Hag said. “He kept going to get himself in the right position.
“He didn’t give up. I think that is what his whole career (is about). That’s why he is so good. In the end, he gets the reward for it.”
‘Garnacho deserved a chance after a better attitude’
Old Trafford not only got to witness one of the all-time greats in action on Thursday but also a rising star.
Alejandro Garnacho, a key part of last season’s FA Youth Cup triumph, made his first United start at the age of 18 and left to a standing ovation.
“I think it was a good performance from him,” Ten Hag said. “He did what I expect him to do.
“First, he deserved the chance after the last weeks. The start was difficult for him in the season.
“I was not happy with him but the last weeks I was happy with him – he got a better attitude, more resilience, more determination and what you see he is a talent.
“To deal with the ball in tight areas, to run behind, and especially also his tempo dribbles, he can take players on and that’s a good capability in football nowadays, especially against opponents who are defending that compact like this opponent.
“I’m happy with that. I hope for him 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 are playing in a team.”
Pushed on what Garnacho had done wrong, Ten Hag said: “Not wrong. It’s young kids, eh?
“They have to grow and to raise their personality, and they have to know what are the laws and demands in football, in top football.
“It’s not only about a trick or about scoring one goal. No, we have to win football games and that demands a lot and then you have to fulfil every day the highest standards.
“That is what we have to teach – and not only to him but all the players, especially the young players.”