Erik ten Hag: I had to fix Man United relationship with fans

Erik ten Hag said he is working to rebuild the relationship between Manchester United and the club's fans after noticing a disconnect when he took over at Old Trafford in the summer.

United ended last season in miserable form, winning just three of their final 14 games in all competitions. Ten Hag was in the stands at Selhurst Park for the final day defeat to Crystal Palace when the team were given a hostile reception by the travelling supporters and since taking over as manager, he said he has tried to bring fans and players closer together.

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"It was definitely one of our plans, part of our plan that we had," Ten Hag told ESPN. "You need a connection with the fans. Manchester United is that big in the world and you have to show commitment and make an engagement.

"You have to build a togetherness because also, we want to act like that on the pitch as well. The team has to understand that and everyone around Manchester United has to understand that the fans are there for us. You play football for your fans and we have to be aware of it."

On Wednesday, Ten Hag met representatives from 13 supporter clubs from around the world and took questions during a special news conference ahead of the Carabao Cup third round tie with Aston Villa.

And after the 3-1 defeat at Villa Park on Sunday, he told fans to expect a reaction from his players.

"We were not happy with our performance at Villa Park and we make it quite clear in our analysis that it's not acceptable, it's never acceptable," he said. "We have to deliver in every game and that is the culture we have to have here. We can't change it [the defeat to Aston Villa] but we want a reaction. We take every game seriously and we want to win this cup.

"All the games we play, there is only one aim; we have to win. That is the most important thing. We have to win every game so we have to paut the best players on the pitch. We have planned some changes but we want to play a strong team."

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United have two games left before the World Cup when Ten Hag will lose most of his players to their national teams. The break will give the 52-year-old a chance to reflect on his first five months in the job and despite an encouraging start, he says there is still a lot of work to do.

"I knew from the start it was an exciting process but a difficult process," he added. "Manchester United was far away from the standards that we need to be top.

"We worked for the last five months but as you see, it goes up and down. Sometimes we have to swallow bad results to get lessons and get better. We are going in the right direction but there is much more to do.

"At Manchester United, there is always a lot of attention so you know you are at one of the biggest clubs in the world. We want to be the biggest. It's a great challenge and I like it because it gives me energy. I want to do everything in my power to get back where we belong and that is on the top of the world."