- Douglas Luiz celebrated directly in front of Raphael Varane after equalizing
- Erik ten Hag admitted that this could have encouraged his players to recover
- CHRIS SUTTON: Erik ten Hag is still on trial. He needs more than incremental improvement this season to keep his job. Podcast Everything is beginning
Erik ten Hag admitted Douglas Luiz’s joyous celebration may have spurred his Manchester United players to beat Aston Villa and close the gap in the race for the top four.
The Brazilian began his routine against the Holte End when he canceled out Rasmus Hojlund’s first goal in the second half. But he also seemed to be aimed directly at Raphael Varane, who spread his arms in protest.
When Scott McTominay headed United’s winning goal in the 86th minute, Varane headed straight for Luiz and the confrontation between the two players only ended when referee Rob Jones intervened.
Former United favorite Rio Ferdinand mocked the Villa man on social media afterwards, posting a photo of Luiz making his move with the caption: “Are you okay?”
Ten Hag tried to be more diplomatic, but admitted that celebration may have “fueled” his players.
Erik ten Hag admits Douglas Luiz’s joyous celebration in front of Raphael Varane may have fueled Man United’s victory over Aston Villa
Ten Hag admitted he wasn’t sure, but said the celebration was perhaps “nurturing” for the players.
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“I don’t have an opinion on it,” said the United boss. “I haven’t spoken to the players. Maybe it’s fuel, I don’t know.
‘I don’t think it’s important. “It’s about us, we have to think about our game and not about the opponent.”
Ten Hag was frustrated that United did not do more to close out the game after taking the lead through Rasmus Hojlund in the first half.
‘The way we did it, I liked it. I especially liked the first 20 minutes in which we controlled the game. But once we scored we changed our way of thinking. For me, you have to keep playing.
“It was a lot like a tennis match, we had problems on the counterattack. It was very open and could go two ways, but we found the mentality and character to win the match.”