Erik's matchday Q&A: Southampton (A)

Saturday 27 August 2022 07:00

Erik ten Hag is looking to see his Manchester United side build on the spirited performance that saw us defeat Liverpool on Monday, when the Reds travel to face Southampton this afternoon.

United visit St Mary's Stadium for a 12:30 BST kick-off against Ralph Hasenhuttl's side, targeting consecutive victories after beating our Merseyside rivals at Old Trafford earlier this week. A win would also be the first competitive triumph of Ten Hag's tenure away from Old Trafford, and the Dutchman hopes his side can build on the momentum on the south coast this weekend.

In his exclusive matchday interview with club media, Erik discusses the arrival of new signing Casemiro and the buoyant atmosphere in the Reds' camp heading into today's fixture. He also shares his thoughts on United's Europa League draw, his main takeaways from Monday's win, his appreciation for our supporters and more.

You can see the Q&A in full below…
Ten Hag: We have to act as a squad Video

Ten Hag: We have to act as a squad

The manager outlines his expectations for the game at Southampton...

Firstly Erik, we’ve had the Europa League draw and we will face trips to Spain, Moldova and Cyprus – what are your thoughts on the draw?
"Europe is always something special and you don’t know your opponents that well, but I think they will be good opponents. Real Sociedad are a really great club in Spain, now sixth in the league and I saw them coincidentally play at the weekend against Barcelona and they compete really well so they will be tough opponents. There are the other two teams too – Sheriff beat Real Madrid last year so they must be good. We have to be really well prepared to do well in this competition."

It was a great result on Monday but what was the most pleasing thing about the performance for you?
"I like the ambiance in the stadium and the togetherness with the fans which we created. We fight together and that’s the way we have to act."
Just as you weren’t going to overreact after the results against Brighton and Brentford, is it key to not get carried away after beating Liverpool? How important is it to keep feet on the ground and keep looking forward? 
"Of course we can take the confidence from that game. When you beat Liverpool – I’ve said before that they were the best playing team in the world last year, then this is clearly a magnificent performance [from us]. But also we knew the week before Brentford and again for this game [against Southampton] that it’s the same. We have to learn from that [Liverpool] game and I’m really curious of what we will present [on Saturday], but I’m really confident that if we do the same as we did against Liverpool and we have the same attitude, fighting spirit and team cooperation then we have to win."

How big a part did the fans play in the performance against Liverpool – it really was a great atmosphere…
"The whole pre-season and even at Brentford, we know the fans are always behind us and always there so we have to deliver performances to the standard of Manchester United and that starts by giving 100 per cent in every action, every occasion and in every game."
How has training been this week and how is the squad looking in terms of personnel?
"Of course the atmosphere after such a win is great and also from that game you can take lessons – you have to get into a season and to get into a season is always hard. Not everything will work 100 per cent and therefore you have to work really hard to get that done in terms of individuals and especially as a team to get the right cooperation. So from game to game you need to go in and start from zero and you have to win that game. There is a good spirit, we are ready for this game and we have to collect the points there."

There has also been the huge added bonus of Casemiro’s arrival – how big an influence do you see him having on the team?
"You can see immediately the impact that he can have so we are really pleased that he is here."

He said himself he doesn’t speak much English yet but he has so much support from other players in the team which is a great bonus when you move to a new country?
"Yes definitely. He’s talking Portuguese and the players who speak it will help him and he has already said he wants to learn English very quickly and that’s the way he is. He wants to learn, he wants to adapt and he wants to perform. And I’m sure he’ll do that really quickly so he can contribute to our success."

Confirmed: Casemiro's United squad number


Find out which shirt the Brazilian will wear as a Red following his transfer from Real Madrid.

Sticking with new signings from South America, everybody was talking about Lisandro Martinez after Monday. You told us in advance that he was a warrior – how important was his performance?
"It’s a great habit [to be a warrior]! [Smiles] That’s the way he is. Not everyone is the same, don’t get me wrong, but we want a fighting team and we have to construct a team that is hard to beat, and from there on we will win games."

Were you a warrior as a player?
[Smiles] "Let others judge!"

You’ve got a big squad and only 11 starting spots. The substitutes all came on and did a great job against Liverpool, whether it was for 45 minutes or five minutes – does that show how important the whole squad will be?
"What you said is totally correct. If you are on for 45 minutes or for five minutes you have to contribute. We are not [just] a team, we have to act as a squad so we need everyone. We have a lot of games to cover and in games the subs have to be ready at any moment."
Our back four’s battling performance Video

Our back four’s battling performance

Don’t miss the best bits by Diogo Dalot, Raphael Varane, Lisandro Martinez and Tyrell Malacia…

You’ve got a busy schedule coming up now with three games a week – how much is everyone looking forward to that challenge?
"First of all you have to get into the season and it’s always tough to get into the season. It’s about winning your fights and winning your points and then the confidence will come. From game to game we have to learn and we have to develop the team processes and the way we play."

It’s Southampton away on Saturday – have you been to the south coast before?
"I have been there, but it was a long time ago and I can’t remember it because I was a child!"