Erik ten Hag says Manchester United let the fans down with their “unacceptable” lack of fight and desire in Thursday’s humiliating Europa League exit to Sevilla.
Last week the Red Devils threw away a commanding quarter-final lead as late Tyrell Malacia and Harry Maguire own goals saw the first leg end in a chaotic 2-2 draw.
But United wilted rather than rallied in the return leg in Spain, falling to an embarrassing 3-0 loss as Ten Hag’s side bowed out of the Europa League 5-2 on aggregate.
Youssef En-Nesyri capitalised on an early Harry Maguire mistake on Thursday and, after Loic Bade’s header, punished David De Gea’s slip in a chastening defeat.
Put to Ten Hag that Sevilla appeared more up for the game than his team, he said: “I have to acknowledge (that). It’s the truth.
“It’s hard, it’s tough, but it’s the truth. It can’t be and it’s unacceptable, but I think we showed in the past we can quickly bounce back.
“We did it between games many times this season but what we have to learn is to start games better, with more desire, more composure on the ball and when you get the setback you have to deal with it and carry on.”
United’s Europa League exit will be compounded if they put in a similar performance against Brighton in Sunday’s FA Cup semi-final.
Ten Hag’s side lost at home to the Seagulls in his first game in charge and knows he has a big job to lift them for Wembley.
“I already started,” he said. “We lift them and we have to pick them up.
“But also we have to face that we let ourselves down, we let the fans down and if you want to win trophies, if you want to be successful, you need other character.”
The Sevilla loss is bracketed alongside other chastening defeats, from the 4-0 loss at Brentford and 6-3 shellacking at Manchester City to being beaten 7-0 at Liverpool.
Asked if going from highs to such lows shows the team has a lot to learn, Ten Hag said: “Yes, it’s the truth that we have to be better.
“It’s not about playing skills. No, it is about character, so be composed, desire and passion.
“They had more willingness to win. It can’t be and I think it’s unacceptable.
“After City, after Liverpool, after Brentford, and every time we bounce back.
“So in that perspective this team has character so have very good mental skills but in some occasions we are not there.
“I think we have to accept that now but it’s unacceptable because everyone can see the demands and standard has to be higher in a club as Manchester United.”