Ten Hag: We must be absolutely ready

Wednesday 21 December 2022 12:00

Erik ten Hag is hoping his meticulous planning will bear fruit when Manchester United return to competitive action in tonight's Carabao Cup contest with Burnley (20:00 GMT kick-off).

The manager admits in his programme notes that Vincent Kompany's men are particularly tough opponents because of their earlier return to league matches, fine form and sky-high confidence, after quickly regaining their rhythm.

However, much work has been undertaken in a bid to ensure United are in a good position for the restart, following training at Carrington and in Spain, while those who participated at the World Cup will be carefully managed, as our schedule ramps up again, particularly from 27 December.

Training highlights: World Cup Reds return Video

Training highlights: World Cup Reds return

Training highlights | Our squad was bolstered on Tuesday, with many of our World Cup stars back at Carrington...

"Of course, this is a very unusual campaign," wrote the boss in his exclusive column. "Totally unprecedented, with a six-week break from club football because of the World Cup.

"But we have prepared the players in such a way that they always knew what would be happening, whether they were involved in the World Cup or not.

"The aim has always been simple: be absolutely ready for our season resuming and now that time is here.

"I have been in regular contact with our players who were involved in the World Cup, and it was great to see so many of them do well and, in many cases, go into the later stages of the competition," he added. "But there have also been a lot of players here at Carrington, so we have tried to take advantage of this rare opportunity to spend time together without competitive games.

"I am happy with the state of play as we resume the campaign tonight, but I am well aware – as we all are – that we are not restarting with a straightforward game. Burnley are on top of the Championship, which is a difficult league to contest, plus they have been back in competitive action for a couple of weeks already.

"We want to do well in the Carabao Cup this season and, although we are in different divisions, there is no question that we will have to be straight back into our best form tonight if we are to progress."

Read the full column from the manager and much more in tonight's United Review, the official matchday programme.

Clarets boss Kompany expects a less-than-welcoming reception from the Old Trafford faithful, due to his time captaining Manchester City, which included scoring a vital winner in the derby during the 2011/12 title race.

"I’ve been on the pitch a lot of times as a player," he told the club's official website. "But I’ve never gone there with Burnley.

"For me, it’s going to be about discovering how close or how far we are, everything else around it will be what it is.

"I’d be slightly offended if I didn’t get a bit of stick when I get there but, ultimately, it’s going to be about the team’s performance rather than me.”