Manchester United’s new coach Eric ten Haag called for his team to focus on “unacceptable” second-half lapses after a 2-2 friendly draw against Aston Villa on Saturday. United took a two-goal advantage to end Ten Haig’s winning run in the final game of their pre-season tour of Asia and Australia. United displayed their new attacking flair in the first half, wearing their white shirt, but delivered a header to Villa’s Callum Chambers amidst poor conditions at Perth’s Optus Stadium, which was marked by a wet pitch.
“The decline of attention is unacceptable. It can’t happen,” Ten Haig told reporters.
“We have to learn from the second half that it’s not possible to be comfortable scoring just two goals.”
United finished their tour with England national player Jadon Sancho claiming their third goal from four friendly matches.
They had previously won over Liverpool, Melbourne Victory and Crystal Palace ahead of their English Premier League opener against Brighton on 7 August.
Even though the collapse of the second half ended their tour on a sour note, Ten Haag was still buoyed by signs of improvement from United – who finished last season in a disappointing sixth place in the Premier League.
“I’ve seen a lot of progress in the last two weeks,” he said.
“In the first half, I saw really good football.
“The boys may be tired, but that’s never an excuse.”
Steven Gerrard’s Villa, who finished 14th in the Premier League last season, struggled to match United’s energy before returning to the competition to finish their pre-season campaign without defeat.
Villa’s Premier League opener is against Bournemouth on 6 August.
“People have really jumped into that second half and told me they want to be in the starting eleven, so I’m happy because I was disappointed at half time,” said former Liverpool star Gerrard.
After heavy rain and thundershowers lashed Perth earlier in the day, there were fears that the waterlogged pitch could lead to the cancellation of the game but the competition went ahead as scheduled.
Distressed United captain Harry Maguire, who poked fun at fans in Melbourne last week, received a muted response from a crowd of almost 58,228, reminding him of the negative reaction he had received last season.
He was quickly in action with a brilliant header that was brilliantly saved by goalkeeper Emiliano Martínez, who was under siege.
Argentina were helpless in the 24th minute when the 22-year-old Sancho struck a volley after a well-combined left side from Luke Shaw and Marcus Rashford.
Amid torrential rain just before half-time, Sancho continued to threaten his goal with a wicked cross smack into Villa’s Matty Cash.
Ten Haag resisted making a change at half-time, but Gerard’s decision to bring in winger Leon Bailey prompted the Jamaican from a long-range shot to bring Villa back into the competition.
Tej Bailey threatened a draw against re-formed United in the 68th minute after Ten Haig rang the change bell – but it was Chambers who stepped on the death.
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