London: Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag expects to face a “mad” Tottenham on Thursday following Spurs’ humiliating 6-1 defeat by Newcastle but has insisted no opponent can be “hungrier” than we are.
Spurs’ embarrassing loss to the Magpies led to the sacking of acting head coach Christian Stellini, with the 48-year-old spending less than a month in charge after replacing Antonio Conte.
Tottenham have now appointed Ryan Mason as their caretaker boss.
Fourth in standings
United are currently fourth in the Premier League, six points clear of Spurs and with two games in hand.
They travel to north London still eyeing a Cup double, after Sunday’s FA Cup semi-final penalty shoot-out win over Brighton at Wembley, having already lifted the League Cup this season.
But United themselves have had to recover from some disappointing results this season, with Ten Hag telling a pre-match news conference on Wednesday: “We had some, not so often, that we have to bounce back.
Kane a huge threat
“Definitely (more than I would like) but it happens with all the great teams, even Real Madrid, eh?
“It’s obvious they (Tottenham) had a really bad defeat. Of course, then they are mad. That can be fuel for bouncing back.
“But it’s about us. An opponent can never be more hungry than we (are), so that is how we have to prepare the game.”
Regardless of Spurs’ problems, England captain Harry Kane remains a threat. The 29-year-old striker has scored 26 goals in all competitions and faces one of the clubs reportedly interested in signing him at the end of the campaign should he decide to leave Spurs in pursuit of his first major trophy.
“It’s quite clear his impact on the game for Spurs,” said Ten Hag.
“We have a plan of course for that. The home game we did very well, so for tomorrow we need a very good plan as well.
“You have to defend him as a team.”
Meanwhile, Ten Hag played down fears Bruno Fernandes had suffered a serious injury, even going as far as to suggest the midfielder could face Spurs.
The 28-year-old suffered a knock against Brighton before eventually being substituted in the 101st minute.
Fernandes’ wife posted a photo on Monday of the United playmaker with his right foot elevated next to a protective boot and pair of crutches.
But the Portugal international was seen without that boot and crutches on Wednesday, with Ten Hag saying: “There are some unavailable — (Lisandro) Martinez, (Raphael) Varane.
“We have to see how Bruno Fernandes is. We don’t know yet, he’s a question mark.”