Erik Ten Hag's interview in full

Saturday 13 August 2022 07:00

Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag is targeting his maiden Premier League victory when his side travels to Brentford on Saturday evening.

The Reds are on the road in the Premier League for the first time this season as we make the journey to the capital to face Thomas Frank's side in a match which kicks off at 17:30 BST.

Ahead of the clash, the boss sat down with club media’s Stewart Gardner on Friday to preview the game, and he gave his opinion on behind-closed-doors fixtures, the growth of women's football, and much more...
Ten Hag: Eriksen's dynamism is vital Video

Ten Hag: Eriksen's dynamism is vital

Exclusive | Erik ten Hag praises Christian Eriksen, remarks on Monday's behind-closed-doors match, and more...

What’s the latest team news Erik? Anthony Martial and Victor Lindelof were both missing last weekend…
“It’s still the same.”

They’re both still absent for this weekend?

Is there any injury update on Facundo Pellistri after he got injured in pre-season and could that affect the possibility of him going out on loan?
“Yes I think so because he’s injured. The prognosis is that he will not return before September.”

Do you expect any more loan departures, particularly for young players before the end of the window?
“Yes I think so as well.”

How has this week been in training after what was obviously quite a difficult weekend?
“When you lose it’s always difficult. But you have to deal with disappointments and setbacks and learn lessons and that’s what we’ve done.”

There was a behind-closed-door game this week and you’ve had a couple of them over the summer – how useful are those?
“I don’t like them being behind closed doors but it was behind and we needed all the players to get the minutes in the legs. Of course it’s best to get that in the league, but we have a squad and we need the squad. We need double positions and of course they can also show their capabilities to me and to the team, and get to the right fitness levels and work hard. That’s the most important thing.”

United are always the focus of media attention whatever the game and whatever the result – are you able to just block out all the external coverage of the club which is every day?
“Yes. Here it is huge, but I’m used to it – in Amsterdam it was the same. The Netherlands is a small country but Ajax is the middle point of that small country so all the results – positive and negative – always get a lot of attention.”

Christian Eriksen was outstanding for Brentford last season. He told us that the club helped him in every way – how special will it be for him to go back there on Saturday?
“Of course it will be special, but he’s also used to it because he’s experienced and he did this before and in the end it’s about playing a game and he has to focus on the team result. And of course in the team result his performance has to be good. It’s important for us that he’s acting well and he will do.”

We’ve seen him play as a no.10, a bit further back as an 8 and a bit of a false 9. Do you think he has one best position or can he play three or four?
“We as a team want to play dynamic so I don’t tell a player you are playing in a position that is really static. No, it is dynamic and he is a player who can play in several positions and that’s what we need. He’s important in building up because he can give a final pass or score a goal.”

How to watch and follow Brentford v United


We travel to London on Saturday for our first away match of the season.

It’s going to be something like 35/36 degrees at Brentford on Saturday which is very unusual in the UK – could the conditions be a factor?
“Yeah. That demands a lot mentally and physically and it will definitely be an issue so we have to be prepared for that and deal with it.”

Brentford had a tremendous first season in the Premier League last season – what do you make of them and their qualities?
“They’re a good team with a good structure and you can see they work together. Their style is quite direct and they work for each other. They’re good physically but there are opportunities to win this game and we have to win this game.”

United’s away fans are famed for their amazing support and the huge numbers that travel – are you looking forward to experiencing that for the first time in the Premier League?
[Smiles] “United fans are everywhere! And I’m really pleased about that. We have to be unified – team and fans – and we have to co-operate once again to get the right result.”

Regarding your coaching staff, how is Benni McCarthy settling in? Is he getting involved straightaway?
“Yes of course, Benni is relaxed and he’s straight into the team and it’s good to have him here. He has a different voice and this can be really helpful to get the right results.”

It was announced this week that the Manchester United women’s team are going to play another match at Old Trafford in December – how important do you think it is that we continue to help grow the women’s game and they get an opportunity to play at Old Trafford and other main stadiums?
“You can see the women’s sport is developing and that’s good for the development of total football. I’m really happy with that.”