Erik ten Hag was full of praise for “dominating” defender Harry Maguire and Wout Weghorst after Manchester United cruised into the FA Cup quarter-finals with a 3-1 comeback win over West Ham.
United struggled to get into a groove for most of the Old Trafford encounter and fell behind to Said Benrahma’s opener after half-time, but a Nayef Aguerd own goal and late strikes from Alejandro Garnacho and Fred sealed their path to a last-eight home tie with Fulham.
Ten Hag highlighted Maguire’s performance after the England centre-back returned to the United line-up after three games away from the starting team.
The United manager said in his post-match press conference: “He was dominating the defence, but in offence, he had some really good moments, good passes and was engaging and outplaying opponents. He played a good game.
“How do we help him? In training. Not long ago, I showed him a video [on] how to outplay opponents and how he can have more impact in possession and building up with his skills.
“He is really high-skilled for a centre-back. He has so many skills and he has to use that in a game.”
When asked if that video showed clips of Maguire or other top-level centre-backs, Ten Hag replied: “Both.”
Ten Hag also described striker Weghorst as “one of the best players on the pitch” – saying the Dutch forward had a hand in all three of the goals.
The on-loan forward put pressure on the West Ham defence which led to Aguerd’s own goal, before closing down the Hammers backline which led to Fred’s late strike.
“He was one of the best players on the pitch,” said Ten Hag of Weghorst. “He was involved. He was in front when he got up there with Harry to force the own goal from the opponent.
“The goal from Garnacho he was pressing and he was definitely [pressing] in the third goal when he was doing a good press and forced the opponent to make a mistake so Fred can score. He understands positioning. In and out of possession he is doing a really good job for the team.”
Asked if just a goal is missing in Weghorst’s game, Ten Hag replied: “That will come.
“I have experienced that with so many players. I refer to Rashford at the start of the season, he was not scoring in every game but I know in my experience it will come once he is more settled down. He is now a lot of games with us but not in a long period. But the routines will be there and when he has the first goal, more will come.”
Keane: West Ham were useless, laughable
Meanwhile, Sky Sports pundit Roy Keane hit out at David Moyes’ Hammers for a “shocking” second-half display, accusing the Londoners of gifting United three goals.
Asked if he ever felt that West Ham would hold on for a win, Keane told ITV: “It never happens. Seen it all before. They come, get a bit giddy, get an opportunity.
“Loads of teams, the Spurses of this world, they come to Old Trafford, get a few chances and they get all excited and they end up getting beat.
“Defensively, West Ham were shocking. Absolutely shocking [and] useless in the second half. They gave up three goals!
“Give United credit, you knew there would be a reaction. The really good games find a way to win. We saw the set-piece delivery at the weekend, and contributions from substitutes. Fred scored. But there are no surprises at what we’ve seen tonight.
“I’ve seen it over the years, West Ham are laughable. You get chances, you’ve got to take them. You talk about small margins, players have to do their job!”
Asked about the role of West Ham goalkeeper Alphonse Areola in Aguerd’s own goal, Keane added: “The goalkeeper has to come out there. I remember the goalkeeper coach I used to work with used to say: ‘Come out with violence.’ You come and take people out.
“But you look at [Areola and his West Ham defenders] there and they’re having a discussion like they’re in Starbucks.
“Go and take people out. Come with violence. That’s your job.”