Ten Hag's pre-match message to fans

Wednesday 08 February 2023 06:59

Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag says his players must be 'well prepared' for the test that Leeds United will provide at Old Trafford later this evening.

Set to face the Yorkshiremen in the first of back-to-back Premier League clashes this week, the Reds will hope to continue our fine run of form at the Theatre of Dreams, with the game kicking off at 20:00 GMT.

Having recently parted with ways with former boss Jesse Marsch, an interim management trio will be in the visitors dugout in M16, with United's sole focus on registering yet another precious three points.

Speaking to club media ahead of the clash, Erik was quizzed on his team's togetherness following Saturday's victory over Crystal Palace, as well as outlining the role Marcel Sabizter can play during our busy February scheduling. Scroll down to read every word from his interview with MUTV's Ben Ibson...

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

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

Erik previews the first of our back-to-back clashes with Leeds and provides the latest United team news...

Erik, thanks for joining us. Firstly, it's Leeds up next and it's very rare to play the same team twice in succession in the league, I think the last time was 1967 it happened. Does that change anything in the way you approach the game?
"No, we have to go from game to game. It is a big week for us, as twice we face a rival team and we have to be ready for that. It gives a different emotion, always when you play against rivals, so we have to be [on the] front foot and be ready for the game. We have to be well prepared but also giving off good energy and look forward to facing them."

Leeds, just a few days ago, parted ways with manager Jesse Marsch. Could that impact the team positively or negatively?
"It will always have an impact. But also it has to be about us and how he deal with that. Are we proactive? Are we anticipating? If we do that, we have a good chance to win the game. It will be close and we will have to give everything. Nothing is easy in football, especially games between rivals are not easy, they are never close games. You have to be [at] your best."
Manchester United versus Leeds has always been a huge game, a big game in the schedule. How much do you know about the rivalry between the two teams?
"I know something about it, as I know it is about the match between the roses. The red and white. The red has to win and we know what to do. We have to give everything for the battle for our fans."

Looking at the squad, are there any updates? Scott and Anthony Martial, in particular?

"They are not available. Antony dos Santos, as well, and we will miss them tomorrow. We will see how that develops in the coming days but it is about who is left and they have to do the job. We have a good squad and they have to deal with that, we have to bring a good team tomorrow on the pitch and, if we perform well, we have a good chance to win."

Switching our heads back to the game against Crystal Palace on Saturday, there were plenty of positives to take from the game, including the second goal, the way it was scored and the amount of players who touched the ball. Is it important for you to see that brand of football and is it pleasing to see it out on the pitch like that?
"It is fantastic, the second goal we made. The first 70 minutes, we played a high-quality game, intense and [it was] perfect. The game-plan but also in the way we played. That goal was definitely the symbol of that game with the possession between the lines and the switching of play, the speed of the game and, finally the cross and we scored. It was great team goal, I think we have already made more such goals, the first goal against Arsenal at home as well was brilliant. This is definitely one as well if you see, after the season, you can say this is the way you want to play."

Don't miss Ten Hag's team news update


In his press conference, the manager confirmed two forwards will miss the match against Leeds, plus Casemiro.

You also mentioned the togetherness on Saturday from the players and the fans, especially in the last 20 minutes, where the players really dug in and the fans also appreciated the commitment?
"You can see in this team there is the right mentality. We [are] creating a winning mentality and we do that with the togetherness we have with the fans. That has to do with commitment and that also has to do with the approach of togetherness. We want to win games and, at this moment, we have the right characters on the pitch. They can bring the right mood in the game but they also know when they need to bring the right mojo. The fans coming in, that gives us such a high level and helps us with these performances. If we stick together, we have a good chance of being successful together."

Someone who was introduced in that game, Marcel Sabitzer, could he play an important role, especially in the next three games coming up?
''Not only in the next three games coming up, we signed him and we said from the start of the season, we only want to bring in outstanding players, he is one of them. He has a good profile and he already has a good record in good clubs. He has already performed at the highest level, we are sure with his character, also he is a winner, and he can contribute to success. I think in the 20 minutes he played, we have already seen a little bit, but there is more to come I am sure he will do [that]."
There look to be many players who are playing with a smile on their face at the moment, to pick out one in particular, Jadon Sancho. He came on in the Carabao Cup with a smile on his face but couldn't quite manage to get on at the weekend. Could you tell us about the journey about he has been on, as it seems he is enjoying his football again?
"I think the best moment was how the fans embraced him. That reception, it will beckon and it will motivate him to bring even more. The fans like his game and he is a brilliant football player. We are happy to have him back because he can contribute with his creativity, speed and intelligence. He can decide football games and that is also what we expect from him. He will do just that."

Finally, you attended the memorial service yesterday for the 65th anniversary of the Munich Air Disaster. And also paid your respects before the game on Saturday, how did it feel to be a part of that ceremony for the first time and has it increased your understanding that the Busby Babes and the legacy they had at this club?
''Definitely. Like you said, it is the legacy of this club and it is so important, the history of the club and it gives the club direction from playing attacking football and playing with adventure. Also the young players and developing a team, the team is above everything. I think it is also about friendship. Friends who were lost in a terrible accident and we can never forget them. It is good that we remember them every year."