(Reuters) - On the heels of an abysmal loss at Newcastle that sparked more reports of unrest in Manchester United's dressing room, beleaguered manager Erik ten Hag said his team wanted to send a message to their fans at Old Trafford on Wednesday.
Mission accomplished. Scott McTominay scored twice and United thoroughly dominated Chelsea in a 2-1 win - a score that flattered the visitors - to climb to sixth in table with their fourth Premier League win in five games.
"We are pleased with the result and the performance. We deserved this," Ten Hag told the BBC. "We wanted to send this message to the crowd, but this is also our style. In the first 30 minutes we did it perfectly on the pitch.
"When you are not on top form on the day, you get beaten," Ten Hag added. "You need to be at your best. When you are not, you get killed. We know that and we need the right attitude every game."
The club had banned four journalists from Tuesday's pre-game press conference after they reported that the manager had lost more than 50% of the dressing room. The club said in a statement they barred the reporters because they did not give United right of reply to negative stories.
Ten Hag said again that he is not concerned.
"I don't care about the noise," he said. "They are used to it. It was the same (when he managed at) Ajax, but in a smaller country so less people."
Wednesday's win had Old Trafford's Stretford End singing "Erik ten Hag's Red Army" in the game's dying minutes while midfielder Sofyan Amrabat defended his manager post-victory.
"He's one of the best in the world," Amrabat told Amazon Prime. "He's a fantastic coach and we are all behind him."
Ten Hag praised McTominay's performance. While he scored twice and is United's top league scorer this season with five, he had numerous other chances, including two rapid-fire shots that forced keeper Robert Sanchez into an acrobatic double save.
"He did great," Ten Hag said. "He had an important role to play. He is a very good player. In possession he was very dynamic. He scored two and could have had more."