MANCHESTER, England (AP) — So complete was the humiliation of Erik ten Hag’s first derby in Manchester that he chose to protect Cristiano Ronaldo from enduring the shame associated with such a display.
A 6-3 defeat by Manchester City at the Etihad on Sunday flattered United, with substitute Anthony Martial firing twice late on to add some respectability to the scoreline.
But it could not mask the sheer dominance of Pep Guardiola’s Premier League champions or Erling Haaland’s status as arguably the most feared striker in world football.
What a contrast between the Norwegian – who scored his third hat-trick of the season – and Ronaldo, who was watching from the sidelines.
Ten Haag was scathing in his criticism of his team and revealed he chose not to bring in his 37-year-old striker to protect the player’s reputation.
“I wouldn’t bring him on because we’re 4-1 down,” said the United manager. “Out of respect for Cristiano, for his great career.”
Ten Haag made no effort to protect his fellow players, who were 4-0 down at half-time and 6-1 down before Martial’s double, with Phil Foden also bagging a hat-trick.
“The plan was to show bravery and confidence, but we didn’t do that from the first minute,” Ten Haag said. “We left Haaland and we weren’t tight.
“For the first goal we won the ball and could have created a big chance but instead we gave it away easily and then it was like a pack of cards.
“I criticized them, I told them. Me too because I didn’t get the message. With this lack of confidence we cannot win games. I don’t think this attitude is Manchester United, we can act much braver.
“We’re in the process and I knew beforehand that big teams like City, when you’re not good, you get beaten and we weren’t good. We didn’t follow the rules and principles of how we play and you’re going to get hit.”
United fans began to leave at half-time to avoid further humiliation after a traumatic first 45 minutes.
Foden struck after just eight minutes and then again on the stroke of half-time, with Haaland scoring twice in between.
Antony scored a superb goal from distance after 56 minutes but City were soon on top again, with Haaland completing his treble and then setting up Foden to do the same.
Martial’s goals – the second from the penalty spot – made it the highest-scoring game ever between the rivals.
Guardiola, meanwhile, is at a loss for words to praise his unstoppable centre-forward, who now has 17 goals in 11 games for City – and scored his third hat-trick in successive home league games.
“Of course, the quality we have next to him helps him score,” Guardiola said. “But what he’s done, I never told him once.
“When the ball is right and he’s attacking the box, how he moves behind the centre-back away from the action, he’s got incredible instincts that the ball is going to get there and that comes from his mum and dad. He was born with it.”
But Guardiola warned the Norway international that there are still improvements to be made in his game.
He said, “I’d rather touch the ball five times and score five goals.” I don’t like that,” said the City manager. “I want him to touch the ball more and more.
“That’s how he became a footballer to score goals. I like that he’s more a part of situations, but don’t forget his biggest talent is putting the ball in the net.”
DRAFT FOR 10 PEOPLE LINZ
Luis Sinistera was sent off as 10-man Leeds held on to draw 0-0 with Aston Villa.
The Colombian was shown a red card by referee Stuart Atwell for a second bookable offense when he failed to clear 10 yards for a free-kick just after half-time.
Sinisterra had already been booked for a foul on John McGinn in the first half at Elland Road.
But Leeds, who had manager Jesse Marsh watching from the stands as he saw himself banned for his own red card against Bradford last month, managed to secure a point against the visitors.
Illan Meslier was called into action twice in the first half to deny Ollie Watkins and Leon Bailey.
After Sinistera’s red card, Philippe Coutinho hit the post with an acrobatic effort.
Leeds are 12th in the Premier League and Villa are a point back in 14th.
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