Erik ten Hag frustrated with Manchester United's crossing tactic against Aston Villa
The Red Devils failed to extend our unbeaten run to ten games across all competitions after being beaten 3-1 in Birmingham in what was Unai Emery’s first game in charge of the Villains.
With club captain Harry Maguire on the bench and Bruno Fernandes out suspended, Ten Hag handed the captain’s armband to Ronaldo who started his fourth consecutive game since being reintegrated into the side following his refusal to come against Tottenham Hotspur, which resulted in him leaving Old Trafford early.
There is no denying that the five-time Ballon d’Or winner remains a big threat in the air, but United’s game became somewhat predictable at Villa Park.
It seemed no matter the angle or distance, Ten Hag’s side had adopted a cross the ball into Ronaldo at the earliest opportunity philosophy.
Ten Hag frustrated with Manchester United’s tactic against Aston Villa
In his post-match press conference after losing his fourth Premier League game in charge of the twenty-time league champions, the former Ajax boss explained that tactic wasn’t something he asked his players to carry out.
Ten Hag said: “No, I think it was stupid to do that because we delivered crosses too quickly from too far away, we were forcing and that doesn’t help him [Ronaldo].
“We need to bring the crosses in the right moment. The right moment was from Christian Eriksen in the first half when he found the moment, when I think he was in the pocket to deliver the ball to Cristiano at the far post – that was the right moment.”
After falling 3-1 down, it looked like the wind was taken out of United’s sails and for the remainder of the game we lacked imagination of how to find a route back in the game.
Ronaldo’s only shot on target came via his head, but Villa stopper Emiliano Martinez managed to usher the ball to safety via his right foot.
Given how irked Ten Hag was with United’s one-dimensional attacking approach, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the Dutchman working specifically on when crossing the ball into the box at Carrington ahead of Thursday’s Carabao Cup tie against Villa at Old Trafford.