Ten Hag wants to replicate Old Trafford form when playing away
LONDON – Home or away, it does not matter for Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag because he just wants to win.
The Red Devils are preparing to welcome Leeds United in the Premier League on Wednesday, the first of two meetings in a week before the Elland Road clash on Sunday.
Third-placed United are in fiery form at Old Trafford, having won 13 games in a row in all competitions and are likely to extend that streak against Leeds, in 17th, who sacked manager Jesse Marsch on Monday following their struggles.
Speaking on Tuesday ahead of the game, ten Hag was happy about his side’s home form but insisted that they should be aiming to do equally well on their travels.
“It was one of our aims this season to get that back,” the Dutchman said.
“It’s part of the process to restore United to the club they once were. Home is good, away we also have good results but away we need to show even more personality.
“That’s the next step we have to make to have the same personality away as we do at home. It’s great to have the connection with Old Trafford but I think we have to be aware when we play away we have a lot of fans following us.
“We can do it away. Pitches are the same size, 11 players. We have to grow but we are happy so far.”
Ten Hag started his first season in charge with defeats by Brighton & Hove Albion and Brentford but the team have remarkably moved up to third, three points behind Manchester City (45) and eight behind leaders Arsenal, who have a game in hand.
A 2-1 win over Crystal Palace over the weekend, when Casemiro was sent off in controversial circumstances, was United’s fourth in a row and sets the team up nicely for these two games against Leeds, and also a two-legged Europa League tie with Barcelona.
United also have a League Cup final against Newcastle to look forward to on Feb 26.
Anything less than a win on Wednesday would be a shock, considering that they have scored at least twice in 12 of their 13 straight wins at Old Trafford – the exception being a 1-0 victory over West Ham in October.
They have also conceded only six league goals at home this season, joint-best alongside Newcastle.
In their head-to-head record since Leeds won promotion back to the Premier League in 2020, the Red Devils have won three of four – with huge 6-2 and 5-1 triumphs at Old Trafford.
Ten Hag, however, is wary of the threat Leeds can pose.
“We have to be aware that when Jesse Marsch was at Leeds, it was clear how they played. Now it’s possible they change but it’s also possible they don’t,” he said.
“We will only find out on the pitch tomorrow but we need good anticipation. We will see but we need to be proactive.”
Casemiro will serve the first of a three-game domestic ban, and with Scott McTominay still injured, loanee Marcel Sabitzer could be given his full debut.
Antony picked up a fresh injury, while Anthony Martial, Donny van de Beek, Christian Eriksen remain sidelined.
Leeds are winless in their last seven league games and are above Everton in the relegation zone only on goal difference.
The odds are not looking good for them as seven of their last nine away matches in the English top flight have ended in defeat.
A coaching trio of Michael Skubala, Paco Gallardo and Chris Armas will be in the dugout as Leeds seek a new manager.
“The mood is OK, we just have to focus on Manchester United and be positive,” said Skubala.
“I’d say it is an exciting prospect. Not daunting, it’s exciting.
“We’ll set up a team that is competitive without the ball. We’ve been really good without the ball, we’ve been on the front foot and aggressive.”
Robin Koch will return after suspension, while the injured Archie Gray, Rodrigo, Stuart Dallas, Sonny Perkins and Adam Forshaw are all unavailable.
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