Erik ten Hag believes Manchester United’s 1-0 win at Burnley can prove a turning point in a troubled season as Bruno Fernandes’ stunning strike snapped a three-game losing streak on Saturday.
The United captain produced a match-winning moment of quality when he connected sweetly on the volley from Jonny Evans’ long pass just before half-time.
Victory hauls the Red Devils up to eighth in the Premier League table and eases the mounting pressure on manager Ten Hag.
“This is only one win but what we have seen is that there is togetherness and fight – a real good spirit in the dressing room,” said Ten Hag.
“What we have seen is when you have to defend with 11 and do it together, it is very difficult to play against this Manchester United.”
Zeki Amdouni hit the post for Burnley and forced the under-fire Andre Onana into a fine save in the first-half, but the Clarets remain without a win on their return to the Premier League and sink to the bottom of the table.
“We’re very calm. We knew we had a very tough start in terms of the fixtures,” said Burnley boss Vincent Kompany.
“The start is difficult in terms of results but hopeful. I don’t see any reason to think this team lacks character or margin to grow.”
United’s injury crisis meant that 35-year-old Evans started at centre-back for the first time in his second spell at the club.
The Northern Irishman went on to play a major role at both ends as, on top of teeing up Fernandes’ stunning strike, he had a goal ruled out and helped marshall a United defence that had conceded 10 times in their last three games.
“It was the best night of my life,” said Evans, who won seven major honours in his first spell at Old Trafford.
“I loved every minute of it. That was my 200th game for Manchester United, I never thought I would ever reach that figure.”
United goalkeeper Onana took responsibility for his side’s 4-3 defeat to Bayern Munich in midweek after a howler from the Cameroonian gifted the German giants the opening goal.
Onana got a much-needed confidence boost when he flew across his goal to prevent Amdouni’s header giving Burnley the lead.
Amdouni came even closer moments later when he struck the inside of the post after a flowing Burnley move cut through the United defence.
Under the tutelage of former Manchester City captain Kompany, the Clarets play a very different brand of football to the physical side that survived six seasons in the top flight under Sean Dyche between 2016 and 2022.
However, they have only one point to show for their opening five games and a soft touch at set-pieces was nearly exploited by United.
Evans took advantage of some slack marking to head in Sergio Reguilon’s corner, but Burnley were handed a reprieve by Rasmus Hojlund standing in an offside position in front of Trafford.
United had been guilty of being too pedestrian in their build up until Fernandes’ bolt out of the blue eased Ten Hag’s half-time team talk.
The Portuguese midfielder hit Evans’ long cross-field pass flush on the volley and arrowed the ball into the bottom corner.
Chances were scarce at both ends in the second-half.
But the three points were all that mattered for United to lift the gloom over Old Trafford and they held out for a gritty win that could be the spark to turn their season around.