Erik ten Hag: I'm not Harry Potter
“I'm not Harry Potter.”
This was Erik ten Hag’s witty response to journalists when he was asked about the scintillating form of Manchester United forward Marcus Rashford, prior to this weekend's Emirates FA Cup clash with Reading.
That victory gives United an advantage going into the second leg of our Carabao Cup semi-final at Old Trafford next Wednesday, but Ten Hag’s side must first negotiate an FA Cup fourth-round fixture against Paul Ince’s Royals, in Saturday's 20:00 GMT kick-off at the Theatre of Dreams.
Part two: Ten Hag's pre-Reading press conference
Press conference | Erik discusses the packed fixture list, Marcus Rashford and the transfer window...
Marcus will no doubt be wanting to find the net once more against the Championship side, having scored against Everton in the previous round. Ahead of that match, Ten Hag was asked to reveal the secret behind the forward’s success this term.
“I'm not Harry Potter,” responded the manager, before contemplating the real reasons for Rashford's hot streak.
“Confidence [is important] and every player has to make and get his own confidence. He fights for this, and he invests in this.
“With me and my coaching staff, we bring structures and especially with the way of play. That gives him some routines [with] what he needed to get into the right position, but finally it was up to him.
“If the player has confidence and he is confident in the way we are working - the environment and the culture are also important - then the player can perform at his best.
“Marcus is obviously performing at his best at this moment and he is in really good shape, from day to day, game to game, training to training. More and more routines are coming in.”
Part one: Ten Hag's pre-Reading press conference
Press conference part one | See what Erik said about the squad, potential loan moves and our in-form defenders...
“I think the front line also now gives me a positive feeling that they are getting stronger,” continued Erik.
“That gives me the feeling that they can all benefit from each other.
“In the first part of the season we had many problems in the front line, and we often had games where we didn't even have players who were 100 per cent physically and mentally fit. Now I think it is much more that case and Marcus can now take much more benefit from certain situations.”