Erik ten Hag believes Douglas Luiz’s flamboyant Aston Villa celebration may have spurred his Manchester United players on to a crucial victory on Sunday afternoon. The Brazilian appeared to direct a shimmy towards Andre Onana after turning in from close range, although he would later come to regret his show of cockiness.
The stakes were high and so were emotions at Villa Park as Unai Emery’s fifth-placed side took on sixth-placed United. Rasmus Hojlund gave the visitors an early lead by scoring in his fifth consecutive game, before Luiz pulled Villa level in the second half.
After finding the net, rather than wheeling away to celebrate with the home supporters, Luiz dropped to one knee and shimmied his shoulders towards beaten goalkeeper Onana.
The 25-year-old would find himself humbled later in the game, however, as Scott McTominay emerged from the bench to head in the winner and send United back up north with three points in the bank.
When asked for his take after the victory was sealed, Ten Hag tried to make light of Luiz’s conduct but admitted that it may have fuelled his players to grind out the result. “I don’t have an opinion about that,” he began.
“I haven’t spoken to the players. Maybe it fuelled them, I don’t know. I don’t think it is important. It is about us, we have to think about our game and not the opposition.”
“He is [a super sub] but he can also start,” Ten Hag explained. “You have to credit a player like Scott. He is an example for many players these days.
“There are not many players anymore who are ready for every minute they can be on the pitch. Today we have seen another example. He is always ready to come on and make a difference.”