'The bigger picture looks very good!' - Erik ten Hag's surprising assessment of Man Utd's loss to Fulham

  • Man Utd lost 2-1 to Fulham at Old Trafford on Saturday
  • Red Devils beaten by 97th-minute goal from Alex Iwobi
  • Erik ten Hag saw positives in defeat

Ten Hag was surprisingly upbeat
Ten Hag was surprisingly upbeat / Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/GettyImages

Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag was optimistic for the future in the aftermath of Saturday's 2-1 defeat at home to Fulham.

The Red Devils are now eight points off a top-four spot after being beaten by the Cottagers - their first loss of 2024, but their 15th in all competitions already this season.

Calvin Bassey gave Fulham a deserved lead midway through the first half, only for Harry Maguire to scramble in an 88th-minute equaliser. That seemed to galvanise United and they pushed for a winner, only for Alex Iwobi to score on the counter attack and seal the points for the visitors.

Speaking in his post-match press conference, Ten Hag insisted United are still moving in the right direction, but it's harder to see the progress when they don't have all their star players available to them.

"I'm not that opportune after one defeat. You have to see the bigger picture and the bigger picture looks very good," he said.

"We have to catch up in certain positions, get the injuries back and then we will be in more balance. That is one thing and also strengthen the squad, and strengthen the squad in the transfer windows.

"You see there are many good players coming up, real high-potential players, so they will be getting better and better. So definitely we are in the right direction. When we have the players in the squad available we have a good team.

"We have seen that we have done lately very good, now we have some setbacks. Today, we could've won this game, we should've won this game. The team showed great character.

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"We had two slow starts in both halves. Second half, definitely it was a big loss of Casemiro. We lost some stability in the team and we concede in that moment. Also the goal was very avoidable.

"Then we fought ourselves back and I have to credit the team for showing great character. Then we went for the win but by the end we let them slip away.

"We don't have a left full-back, then Casemiro drops out - a big dropout for us - Licha Martinez, in the front. But still we have players and we have a squad to deal with it.

"Today, we could have won this game, we should have won this game by the end, the team showed great character and we have to do it with these players.

"We have had a good run, now we have to recover from this setback, look forward, prepare for the next game, get ready for this and do better than today."