Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag has told his squad they must learn how to “play nasty” if they are going to be successful this season.
The Dutch coach accused his players of being too passive during the 6-3 derby defeat to Manchester City and was also forced to defend their performance against Cypriot minnows Omonia Nicosia on Thursday as they were forced to come from behind to claim a narrow 3-2 win.
United next face an Everton team who are unbeaten since August, and Ten Hag is expecting a battle at Goodison Park on Sunday.
“I have to keep the reminder to play smart but they have to play nasty as well,” he said.
“You have to deliver and every player in the squad has to take that responsibility individually and they have to do it in a team culture. That is the demand from us, from the coaches to the players. I expect my players are brave on the pitch.”
Ten Hag has called for patience as he tries to implement his methods but said there have been enough positives already this season to show that they are heading in the right direction.
“It’s not something that you build or progress in a week or a month,” Ten Hag added. “It’s quite clear City is the standard in that. There are more teams, but I think we can deliver that, we have seen it against Liverpool and we have seen it against Arsenal but now we have to do it on a consistent basis.
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“That is what we have to work for now. It will not come overnight, it will also take more than weeks, it will take months.”
Meanwhile, Ten Hag is hoping to have defender Raphael Varane available for the trip to Everton after the French international missed the win over Omonia.
“Varane made progress and I hope he is available but I think it will be close,” Ten Hag said.