Every word: Ten Hag's Forest press conference

Friday 23 December 2022 13:30

Manchester United will welcome Nottingham Forest to Old Trafford for our first Premier League game since the World Cup.

The Reds have already hit the ground running domestically with a 2-0 win over Burnley in the Carabao Cup in midweek.

In his latest meeting with the press, the boss talks returning to league action, the situation regarding Raphael Varane and Lisandro Martinez, and analysis of our opponents. 

Read the full transcript below... 

Erik, after so long without a Premier League game, you are still on a high after that late goal at Fulham, but you are still outside the top four. How important is it to pick up from that and keep pushing towards that?
''We are aware. The competition is tough, but I think it counts for all of the seven or eight clubs who are competing for the top four. For those who follow the Premier League, it is great because it is exciting and you have to battle for everyone to get those points. What I am looking at is the process and how we are performing, we have to get the results and then also we have to make the right progress, and then we have a good chance of getting into the top four.''

The pressure on the manager of Manchester United is maybe something you feel a little bit more than others?
''I get it and I understand it. This is also the same for the manager of Chelsea and for Newcastle United. At all of those clubs, they invest a lot in their clubs, there is a big pressure at all of those clubs because they all want to get into the top four. We want to fight for those [other] trophies and that is clear.''

How difficult is it to prepare for a Premier League season that is now restarting following the World Cup?
''It is. When we had a plan on how to do it, how to manage the load of the players, it is all individual based and we have to manage the load of the players. No-one is the same and no has the same programme or the same minutes, they are all playing in different positions and they are all at different ages. We are really trying to cater for everyone's plans but we know the restart is five or six days after a World Cup final. We all know that after a World Cup, the Premier League continues quickly and everyone has to be ready for that. You have to accept it for the managers, the coaching staff and also the players. They have to accept it and they want trophies, so we want to have a strong team to battle for the trophies. We have just spoken about the competition for that and be ready for it but it is not easy, nothing in top-level football is easy. We have to do it smartly, that is clear and hopefully we get the right results and the right performance."

Could Varane and Martinez be available for the game?
''I can't answer that question now, he is still celebrating now in Buenos Aires now going around in the touring car! Going around in Buenos Aires and I can understand it, it is a very emotional, very loaded when you achieve this World Cup success in your country. It is magnificent, it is the highest that you can achieve [in football]. Licha [Lisandro Martinez] also has to understand that on the December 27th, the Premier League is back.''

Ten Hag says Martinez is right to be celebrating his World Cup win.

What about Varane?
''He is disappointed, as anybody would be after losing the World Cup final. I think he can also be proud again in the final, with all what he has achieved in his football career, it is a massive performance as a team, and a player like Rapha [Raphael Varane] when you win so many trophies. Even though he finished second it is a massive achievement, because the level of the nation is so high. They came into the final and even in the final they were very close.''

Sancho, will he be available?
''I don't think so.''

Is the sports psychiatrist helping with Sancho and Rashford as we see with his [Rashford’s] PMA [positive mental attitude] at the moment? What is his role?
''He is here continually, the whole season and working with the coaching staff. Under my management, he is working with the squad and also the staff and the departments. That is his job, one of his jobs, to get the right spirit with the individuals and the team.''

Ten Hag's team news for Forest encounter


Erik ten Hag provides an update on his squad ahead of next Tuesday's clash at Old Trafford.

What do you know about Forest and Steve Cooper?
''First, I was focused on this game and now we go into detail on Forest. They were also playing in the Carabao Cup and we know about all their games as we have followed their restart. We know enough from the opponent, but most important is finally how can we play around that opponent.''

Can I ask about [Cody] Gakpo, were you a big fan of him at the World Cup? How did you assess his performances?
''There were many many good players in the World Cup.''

PSV boss Ruud van Nistelrooy has said that there becomes a time when you just can't say no? Does that suggest it is getting closer?
''I think you can say that about many players.''