Ten Hag: The bond with the fans at Old Trafford is key

Sunday 30 April 2023 07:00

Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag has underlined the importance of the connection between the players and the fans on a matchday at Old Trafford, as we prepare to host Aston Villa in the Premier League later today (14:00 BST).

Overseeing another quick turnaround in terms of domestic action, Erik's Reds welcome Unai Emery's side to M16 off the back off our 2-2 draw with Tottenham on Thursday evening, as we look to get back to winning ways and bolster our credentials for a top-four finish this season.

The visit from Villa will be the first of our final four games at the Theatre of Dreams this season, a place we could make it 27 games unbeaten at with anything other than a defeat against the Midlands club.

Speaking to club media prior to the showdown in his exclusive Matchday Q&A, the boss discussed the fortress that we have been able to create at the Theatre of Dreams this season, along with the positives from our draw with Spurs just days ago, Villa's recent revival and the new contract received by Alejandro Garnacho.

Below you can both read and watch everything he had to say to MUTV's Mark Sullivan on Friday, ahead of kick-off this afternoon...

Matchday Q&A | Ten Hag on Villa (H) Video

Matchday Q&A | Ten Hag on Villa (H)

Matchday Q&A | Before today's game, Erik has his say on our home record, Garnacho's new contract and Villa's form...

Erik, focusing on the positives from Thursday night, a great goal from Jadon. How good is that for his confidence and another terrific goal for Marcus?
''Both of them are really happy with their goals and they were also, I think, two great team goals. The set-up of the second was a counter. The first was a good build-up over many positions [with] ball movements. We make a switch and a great overlap from Christian Eriksen and [it was] a good finish from [Jadon]. They are happy with it.''

Another tight turnaround for the game with Villa. So how's the squad looking? 
''Yeah, we are standing [by] for the training that's coming in [on Friday], so I don't know. I can't review in this moment, so we have to wait. We know our task. We have to go again and we have to get back [to it], get the energy, get the focus against a tough opponent. But we are looking forward.''

Villa are in a good run of form, they were 16th when [Unai] Emery took over and now they're pushing for Europe. So how tough a test will they be?
''Yeah, definitely. Big test. We have proven we can beat them in the Carabao Cup [when] we did, [but] in the weekend before, we had a tough day in Birmingham [against them] and we want to get revenge for it.''

Sunday is one of four games left at Old Trafford. It's become a fortress. How important is it to maintain that and make it a place teams don't like to come to? 
''No team likes to come to Old Trafford. We are strong, it's in our minds and we will go on Sunday and we need the fans behind us because I think that cooperation between the fans, the players, the team is so strong and the bond, we have to strengthen it even more. But you have to prove it every time. On Sunday it is a new test and you have to start from zero.''

Finally, Alejandro Garnacho has signed a new contract with the club. I know work continues with him just as work continues here, we can hear the machinery in the background, but how much more is there to come from him and how pleased are you with his development so far?
''I am very pleased with the development. A the start of the season you always hope that you can bring one or two players from the Academy up into the first team, and he made it. Today is a day for celebration for him but it has to be an inspiration and a motivation especially, because it's a new start as well. Expectations will be higher and we expect him to contribute even more to Man United and we want to win trophies and to be successful, to win every game. I need a player who has the standard of good is not good enough. We have to do better.''