Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag has played down their title chances despite moving to within a point of second-placed Manchester City following their derby victory on Saturday.
United fought back from 1-0 down to win 2-1 thanks to goals from Bruno Fernandes — controversially awarded after initially being ruled out for offside — and Marcus Rashford.
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Ten Hag’s team are six points behind leaders Arsenal, who play Tottenham on Sunday, but the Dutchman is not getting carried away with the title talk.
“The fans may dream but we’re not,” Ten Hag said. “We have to keep our feet on the ground and then face that our game has a lot to improve.”
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Despite beating Pep Guardiola’s Premier League champions, Ten Hag was upset that City were allowed to be so dominant immediately after half-time, a spell of pressure which led to Jack Grealish scoring the opening goal just three minutes after coming on as a substitute.
“It can’t happen that after half-time we lose so much control of the game, for instance, and then getting down is unnecessary,” Ten Hag added.
“When we do the right things, when we follow the right rules, when we step up at the back in earlier moments we can control such moments and do the same as the first half. But it’s also top football, the small details have a big impact and we have to keep working on that and keep investing in that.”
United have won nine games in a row in all competitions and are the only English team to remain in four competitions at the halfway point of the season.
Since the humiliating 6-3 defeat to City at the Etihad Stadium in October, Ten Hag’s team have won 16 out of 19 games and the 52-year-old says the club is moving in the right direction.
“We often talk about teams, developing, tactics progressing, but one of the main jobs for a manager, for a coaching staff is to work on the mentality of the team and this mentality has a lot of elements,” he said.
“One of them is resilience, the determination of this team is progressing a lot in those facts, dealing with setbacks, dealing with suffering in painful moments and keep going after setbacks like a goal against.
“I think we have also players on the pitch who are experienced and know that one moment games can change and I think we are much better able to deal with such situations than a couple of months ago.”
United are third in the Premier League and have lost just once at Old Trafford in the Premier League this season.