Ten Hag was looking to utilise the full squad of players that had travelled to Spain, with most of his stars still at the World Cup, or being given a rest following their exit from the tournament in Qatar. But there were still plenty of experienced players on show against Cadiz with the likes of Scott McTominay, Anthony Martial, Victor Lindelof and Donny van de Beek starting for United.
There were also starts for Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Brandon Williams at full-back, although both were deemed at fault for Cadiz’s opening two goals of the match inside 13 minutes. Martial halved the deficit soon after from the penalty spot, but United were unable to find an equaliser before the break.
Ten Hag made 10 outfield changes at the break to give some of United’s talented youth stars a chance to shine. Kobbie Mainoo scored just minutes after the restart and looked a threat throughout, but United’s youngsters went on to concede two more as Cadiz ran out 4-2 winners.
Ten Hag cut a frustrated figure throughout on the touchline and he angrily called out the “unacceptable” start his side made to the match. “It’s quite clear, we were not awake – still sleeping in the first 15 minutes,” Ten Hag told MUTV.
“They are a threat in transition. We have seen, second goal can’t happen. You are not awake… but especially in the midfield we can’t run off. It’s not possible, unacceptable.
“The first goal is as well. A set play, bad organisation and discipline in the organisation, you concede goal. But after that, we came in the game and a penalty – I think it was a clear one – but we couldn’t make the equaliser before half-time.”
He added: “The first 15 minutes, that cannot happen. That is not our standard. It should not happen. We have spoken about it but then we have to strike it, draw a line and then move on but it can’t happen in the future.”
The United boss was more content with what he saw from the youth players in the second 45 minutes. While admitting there was obvious “mistakes” made, he felt it was a good learning curve for the youngsters to take in.
“They gave energy,” Ten Hag added. “They run, they fight – maybe not always in the right organisation, they make mistakes and they are not used to playing this level.
“But it was a good lesson. You see when you make small mistakes they have big consequences.”