Ten Hag admits Brentford 'were better' than his Man United players

Scott McTominay, Harry Maguire and Mason Mount of Manchester United look dejected after Kristoffer Ajer of Brentford scores his team's second goal during the Premier League match between Brentford FC and Manchester United at Gtech Community Stadium on March 30, 2024 in Brentford, England.

Erik ten Hag refused to give up on Champions League qualification after Manchester United dropped points in a desperately one-sided draw at Brentford.

Mason Mount almost staged a classic smash and grab when he scored his first goal for United in injury-time after Ten Hag’s side had been comprehensively outplayed, but Brentford hit back through Kristoffer Ajer.

United were lucky to take a point but they still lost ground on Aston Villa and Tottenham in the race for a top-four finish – although fifth might also be enough to qualify for the Champions League this season.

Villa are 11 points ahead of United in fourth after beating Wolves, although they have played one more game. Spurs are eight points clear in fifth after coming from behind to win at Luton.

However, Ten Hag still believes United can be in Europe’s elite competition next season, which could go a long way to deciding whether new co-owners Ineos decide to keep him in the job.

‘We will keep fighting,’ said the United boss. ‘It can be very good point in the end. There are still many games to go but of course the points will be more expensive by the end. There should have been three, but now it's only one by the end we will know how it can work out, but it can be a big point at the end.’ 

Two weeks after a rousing FA Cup win over Liverpool, United were flat as they were outplayed by a Brentford side who could easily have repeated their 4-0 win at Gtech Community Stadium last season. They hit the woodwork twice and Ivan Toney had a goal disallowed for offside.

‘We didn't deserve to win but we showed resilience all through the game,’ added Ten Hag. ‘But in points of aggression, Brentford were better. We should show more passion and desire in many moments in the game. But when you are winning you should bring it over the line.

‘You can never compare such levels and performances (to Liverpool) but also when you don't play well you still have to win – we did it almost. That is my big disappointment that we didn't bring it over the line.

‘We didn't play well but there was spirit, there was fight, but not enough. It was enough to get the goal, 1-0, and before that we had a big chance for Rasmus Hojlund.

‘We have many senior players we should all stand up and we also take responsibility for this.’

United’s goal was once again peppered with shots as Brentford had 31 efforts. Asked if that concerned him, Ten Hag replied: ‘As long as we get results, no.

'I explained it once more: we defended low by times and because Brentford are very direct we lost many many second balls and we had to defend the box.

‘We had a great goalkeeper, he was brilliant tonight, we have to say that also. Our results are quite consistent from January on but we concede shots, but we don't concede so many goals.’

Ten Hag said that Raphael Varane was taken off at half-time as a precaution and Victor Lindelof will be assessed on Sunday after both centre-backs were substituted.

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