Erik: We’re happy but we want more

Sunday 22 January 2023 07:00

Erik ten Hag is “happy” with the progress made by his team in the first half of the season but reiterates that United are firmly focused on getting even better.

The Reds have played exactly half of our Premier League games in 2022/23, with the second split of the campaign getting under way this afternoon, via a trip to league leaders Arsenal (KO 16:30 GMT). 

In his exclusive matchday interview with club media, Erik reviews our league season so far and looks ahead to what’s to come, having provided our latest team news and his recollection of the iconic Arsenal-United clashes of the late 1990s and 2000s.

Below you can find all of that and more in his latest Q&A, prior to today’s Premier League contest with the Gunners at the Emirates Stadium…
Matchday Q&A | Ten Hag on Arsenal (A) Video

Matchday Q&A | Ten Hag on Arsenal (A)

The boss looks ahead to the latest instalment of Arsenal v United, in this exclusive pre-match interview...

Is there any team news ahead of Sunday’s trip to Arsenal?
“Not really. I think we have good squad, a competing squad. As you know, Casemiro is absent, but for the rest, we have a good team who has to battle with Arsenal. We have to go head-to-head and we are convinced we are in a good way. We have a prepared team and a good plan and energy, and we will be acting [that].”

Jadon Sancho returned to training at Carrington this week, how pleased are you to have him back with the group and how important is it that everyone has patience with him?
“It is the next step. He still has a way to go. He will know that, but when he makes this progress, then he can return in the group for games. Of course, we all hope that, because he is a great footballer. He has great skills that can help us. We have to cover so many games and we need quality players and he is definitely a quality player who can make a difference and we are expecting that from him.”

What kind of reaction are you hoping to see from your team on Sunday after the late disappointment of the Palace game?
“We focus on that game and you will have setbacks in the season. Sometimes you win, like at Fulham in the last minute, and now you [feel like you] lose. That feels like a loss because you drop two points, that is totally unnecessary. It happened. But we have to avoid that. We have to learn a lesson, and I think it fits in the process from this Manchester United team as well. We have to take that lesson, there are many games to go, we are halfway where we take the right lessons out of it. I think it will help us achieve what we are aiming for.”

Erik's squad update ahead of Arsenal trip


New | The boss is asked for the latest team news and about Jadon Sancho’s return to training this week.

Casemiro is obviously a big loss for this game, as he is suspended, but do you still feel like we have plenty of options to come in for him? Christian Eriksen has been almost ever-present, while Fred and Scott McTominay have made key contributions…
“Last time, we beat Arsenal without Casemiro as I don’t forget he came [on] in the last moment. But he contributed, he didn’t start. So, we also know we can win without Casemiro despite all the contribution he has to this team.”

We’re the only team to have beaten Arsenal in the Premier League so far this season. What did you learn from that reverse fixture at Old Trafford back in September?
“It was a game where we were close to each other. It was finally decided by details. Tomorrow [Sunday] will not be different. That is why we have to make sure we are the best in the details.”

90 in 20: United v Arsenal Video

90 in 20: United v Arsenal

Watch the extended highlights of our clash with Arsenal earlier this season...

This was the biggest fixture in England for much of the 1990s and 2000s, when Sir Alex and Arsene Wenger were in charge. Did you watch many of those games back in the Netherlands and have many memories of those encounters?
“They were real battles. And when you are part of such a battle, it is great. Of course, the landscape changes. We have several more competitors, Liverpool, Manchester City, Newcastle United, Spurs, Chelsea don’t forget. It is different. But I think Manchester United and Arsenal are big rivals. And that makes football. It makes football more interesting for the fans, and that is why there are so many fans who follow football. So, it is great to be part of such games.”

We’re now 19 games into our Premier League season, so we’re halfway through. How do you reflect on that first half of the campaign? What have you been impressed with and what do you feel we still need to improve on?
“You always want more. But I think we have to be happy with where we are now. But we also know we want to be better. Because third is not good enough. We have to be better, we are in a good position, but we have to battle for more. And that means we have to work hard every day on the training ground, around the training ground to do the right things and be ready for every game. Because in the Premier League, there are no easy games, every game you have to battle. Every game you need 100 per cent energy and a good plan. And when you execute it well, we have a good chance with our team, our players we have to win games. That is what we have to aim for. We have to go from game to game and don’t look to far ahead.”