Erik ten Hag gives Rasmus Hojlund excuse to Man Utd boos in derby defeat

Erik ten Hag shrugged off the boos he received from a section of Manchester United fans for subbing off Rasmus Hojlund in their 3-0 defeat to Manchester City, indicating the striker wasn’t ready to play the full 90 minutes. There was a toxic atmosphere inside Old Trafford at the final whistle on Sunday as Pep Guardiola’s side comfortably dispatched their closest rivals.

Pressure is now mounting on Ten Hag to turn things around with a few boos ringing around United’s stadium throughout the match. The home crowd were particularly unhappy when Ten Hag decided to take Hojlund off for Alejandro Garnacho with United in desperate need of finding a goal.

Ten Hag was booed as Hojlund was brought off the pitch and his substitution failed to make an impact on the game. The United boss dismissed the reaction his substitution received, insisting he needed to “protect” the striker.

“Rasmus Hojlund is playing every game and he’s not used to it,” Ten Hag said. “You have to protect those players and for the team you have to protect them as well.”

It’s now five league defeats in 10 matches for United in what is quickly turning into a disastrous campaign for the Red Devils. The Manchester derby at home was seen as the perfect opportunity for United to resurrect their campaign.

They came into the match in a good mood having won three consecutive matches, but they were outclassed from the first whistle against Pep Guardiola’s side. Rasmus Hojlund was adjudged to have pulled Rodri down inside the box in the first half and City never really looked back from that moment.

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United barely troubled Ederson while Andre Onana had to pull off a number of remarkable saves to keep his side in the match. But United never really looked likely to get back into it with the likes of Marcus Rashford, Bruno Fernandes and Hojlund struggling to have any impact on proceedings.

Their makeshift defensive unit was punished in the second half as well when Haaland popped up unmarked at the back post for his second goal of the match. The Norwegian star was free again when he was left with plenty of space to pass into the feet of Phil Foden for City’s third with United fortunate the score stayed what it did.

United have just a couple days to recover before hosting Newcastle in the fourth round of the Carabao Cup in a match that Ten Hag may now desperately need to win to turn their fortunes around.

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