ERIK TEN HAG went all Corporal Jones as he told everyone at Manchester United “don’t panic”.
That’s despite saying he’d be “panic” if no one panics after an opening day loss.
Jones shouted “don’t panic” in the vintage TV sitcom Dad’s Army whenever he sensed danger.
And after losing their Premier League opener at home to Brighton last Sunday, many were losing their minds.
Ten Hag said: “When Manchester United don’t perform, they don’t win, that’s normal.
“I would be more panicked when there was no panic because we have to win.
This is the demand. Still, I’d say panic isn’t the right word. It’s more like “come on, we have to act.” We have to think carefully and do the right things.”
In fairness, some fans did wonder if the club were trying to become Dad’s Army when they made an abortive attempt to sign 33-year-old Marko Arnautovic this week.
There was certainly an air of foreboding in Ten Hag’s voice yesterday at Carrington when asked if he needed a stronger squad at the end of this transfer window on September 1.
“We must. I’m convinced we will,” he said.
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The Home Guard didn’t even form last time as United faced similar trauma leaving their base as they prepared to face Brentford today.
They finished last season on a six-game losing streak away from home in the league.
The last time they lost seven on the trot was during a 10-game league losing streak between September and December 1936.
However, if he loses, at least he’ll be in good company.
Including the interlocutors, none of the last seven managers to take charge of Manchester United have lost their first league game away in charge, winning four and drawing three.
The last manager to lose his first away game was Alex Ferguson in November 1986, a 2-0 defeat at Oxford.
Ten Hag says he’s been working all week to right the wrongs of last Sunday’s loss, to make sure that doesn’t happen to him.
He said: “I analyze the game, what went well, what went wrong, where we can improve, what we need to improve, how we can train and we tell the players and show them how to improve and find solutions.
“We learned a lot but I think it’s normal when you start the season.
“Put the team together and you have a way of playing and it’s a new beginning and you make mistakes, football is a game of mistakes. We know that we have to improve in many things, that’s clear.”
“I know there’s always pressure, I have the experience, what it’s like, I know we have to win every game, I know the fans, I know everyone expects Manchester United to win every game, we have to deal with that and everything . What I can do is prepare the team as well as I can this weekend.”
United fans are angry at the lack of action in the transfer market since the captures of defenders Tyrell Malacia and Lisandro Martinez and midfielder Christian Eriksen.
Still without number one target Frenkie de Jong, attention has had to turn to Adrien Rabiot at Juventus.
Then there was the Arnautovic farce.
How did it get to this point?
Ten Hag said, “It’s hard to answer. When you have an hour, then…
“It is very complicated, but I think we are very happy with what we have done so far.
“I think that was the positive point of last week and the week before, Tyrell Malacia did very well, Christian Eriksen and Lisandro Martinez did very well in the game against Brighton. We’re very happy with that.”
When asked if he is on the same page as United’s board and recruitment department in what they were doing, Ten Hag insists he is.
He said: “I am happy, I think we are cooperating very well.”
Isn’t it a disaster that two weeks into the new season he still lacks the players he needs?
“No,” he said. “Of course, once again, it would be my preference because we could start the process earlier, that’s clear, but in the end the season is long and the right players have to be brought in.”
Whatever the ‘complicated’ reasons, they have to introduce a Ronaldo player who wanted to return to the club 12 months ago and now wants to be there.
Ten Hag said: “In every press conference we already confirmed that it is in our plans.”
So don’t panic, don’t panic.
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