Erik feels the foundations are being laid

Saturday 13 April 2024 08:00

Erik ten Hag accepts the injury situation has made it difficult for Manchester United to attain the consistency he strives for but the boss feels the attacking output has been impressive of late.

In his pre-match interview with club media ahead of Saturday's teatime clash with Bournemouth (17:30 BST kick-off), the manager also stressed how the form of Andre Onana suggests his recruitment was well judged and there is confidence Willy Kambwala can carry on from where he left off against Liverpool, if selected, for the game at the Vitality Stadium.

Check out what Erik had to say in full to MUTV's Mark Sullivan at Carrington...

Extended Q&A: Bournemouth v United Video

Extended Q&A: Bournemouth v United

PRE-MATCH Q&A | Erik ten Hag discusses our squad and facing Bournemouth, before we get Andoni Iraola's view...

Erik, firstly, how is the squad looking for Bournemouth?
“So we have seen, last weekend, Rapha Varane and Jonny Evans didn’t play and so they will not act in Bournemouth as well. Scott McTominay, at the last moments, he dropped out of the squad for the game against Liverpool. He’s been struggling all week as well and we have to see. He really wants to be involved. He really pushes himself today and then we have to make a decision. And Rashford also missed one training but, yesterday, he came into the training and we have to see how he recovers and how he will come in the training.”

Astonishingly, we’ve seen almost 30 defensive combinations with issues at centre-back, particularly recently, but does the way Harry Maguire and Willy Kambwala performed give you confidence that they can be relied upon in this busy period?
“We trust the players and we have a squad but, of course, when you have so many combinations, that is too much. You miss the routines and, if you can almost never play the same partnerships, that will have an impact on the performance and then, also, on the results. But we have good players in the positions and we know they can bring the levels and if you can perform like they did against Liverpool, they can do it against any opponent.”

On the other hand, actually only five teams have a better defensive record than us. Andre Onana, the Player of the Month for us in March, has the third-most clean sheets. So that does show the resilience within your squad?
“Yeah, it tells something about we are very pleased with the performance, the development of Andre. It also tells you something about our recruitment and we are doing well. We are making the right decisions there and now it’s to get a team consistently to play together. And you can see the foundation already with this squad and how we can manage it, and that we don’t concede a huge number of goals. I’m sure when there is a consistent base, we can do much better.”

Although there has been talk about the points dropped in the last few games, we’ve seen some fantastic goals and some great spells of football, so that must give you confidence going into this final run-in…
“Yeah, but it’s also the point, we had difficulties to score in the first part of the season. But you see how we progressed in the second part of the season. That is very good and we make the right steps. But, of course, we want to win games. It still gives confidence that we are able to play good football. We are able to create good chances and we are able to score goals. And also that is a foundation, finally, to be successful.”

Just finally then, how important is it to show the sort of fight and desire we had in the second half against Liverpool, against a Bournemouth side who have won their last three home games and who beat us at Old Trafford earlier in the season?
“In particular, against them, it is very important. Again, it’s all about the game, about desire and resilience and determination against them. They want to fight with you and they want to challenge you. So you have to take those challenges and you have to enjoy it, to go into the challenge, and you have to support each other. So act as a team.”