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Erik ten Hag is trying to free himself from blame for Manchester United’s poor early-season form, according to Graeme Souness. The Liverpool icon has also dished out a reality check to ‘unhappy’ Red Devils stars Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho, who are miles away from producing their best form.
United have flattered to deceive in recent weeks, racking up three wins in a row by a one-goal margin. Many felt they were fortunate in two of those matches, with Sheffield United and Copenhagen on top for large periods.
Ten Hag is unlikely to have much room for error when his side host Manchester City on Sunday. With problems on and off the pitch at Old Trafford, Souness feels that the Dutchman should stand up and take more responsibility.
“I see in Erik ten Hag a manager trying to absolve himself of any blame for the form of the players he bought and for some reason not managing to get a tune from the best of those he inherited,” he wrote for The Daily Mail.
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Last season, Rashford scored a dizzying 30 goals in all competitions. But the England international’s downturn in form has left Souness perplexed.
“For whatever reason, Marcus Rashford still doesn’t look a happy bunny,” he continued. “It’s hard to know why, given that he’s playing for one of the world’s great football clubs, is approaching his prime years and earns a shedload of money. I know the first question I’d ask if I ever bump into him: ‘Why do you look so unhappy, son?’”
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A public spat with Sancho has also made life difficult for Ten Hag. The winger lashed out on social media after being dropped from the matchday squad in early September for an apparent lack of effort in training.
Sancho was subsequently banished from the first team, and is reportedly set to remain frozen out unless he apologises to Ten Hag face to face. Souness has warned the former Borussia Dortmund man, who refuses to do so, that the saga is only going to end one way.
“I have to say that the ongoing Jadon Sancho saga also bewilders me, as did his approach when Ten Hag said publicly that he needed to work harder in training,” he added. “To Sancho, I would say: ‘He’s the boss. If he thinks you can do more, take it on the chin and do more. Don’t challenge the manager on social media.’
“There can be only one winner here — and it’s certainly not Sancho — for the sake of the manager, going forward, and for that United squad. The Sancho situation typifies what’s wrong with football now. The tail wags the dog.”
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