Ten Hag: I know the meaning of derbies

Saturday 14 January 2023 07:00

Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag has hailed Old Trafford's 'special' atmosphere, as we prepare to take on Manchester City in the Premier League later today (12:30 GMT).

The Reds have been in blistering form as of late, with a 100 per cent record since the start of the calendar year and the return of domestic football, following the completion of the World Cup in Qatar.

Set to take on the reigning champions in what is set to be a sold-out Theatre of Dreams, our Dutch boss has praised the desire and hard work shown by each and every one of his players in recent weeks.

Still competing on four fronts this season, Ten Hag has called on the rhythm in the squad to stay the same, and you can read exactly what the Dutchman said in his pre-match Q&A below...

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

Matchday Q&A | Ten Hag on Man City (H)

Erik previews his first Old Trafford derby and explains Wout Weghorst's signing in this matchday interview...

Erik, your first Manchester derby at Old Trafford. How excited are you for it?
''It is always great to enter Old Trafford in any game, but, in a Manchester derby, it is going to be a really special moment when I enter tomorrow at Old Trafford. I know the meaning of derbies and, especially, this game will be huge, great. It is really exciting.''

How important will our fans be to provide that electric atmosphere?
''I think it is really usefully and really important. Finally, we have to do it on the pitch and it doesn't matter if we play home or away. It always give us a push and, away from home, we have a lot of support from our fans, but Old Trafford is special. The environment, the ambience, you see the togetherness between the team and the fans and it is building. It is really growing and we have to use that to beat our opponents.''

What's the latest on the squad ahead of the derby?
''Diogo Dalot is not available, and we have one question mark over Anthony Martial. He was, today, for the first time training after some days training individually. We are positive about it but we have to see about it.''

And on Donny van de Beek?
"Yes, I think it’s quite positive news. Of course, the bad news is he’s out for the rest of the season but good news in the long term, his knee will be okay and he will be ready to play at the highest level at the start of pre-season."

Ten Hag gives Van de Beek injury update


The United boss explains why he is being positive about Donny's diagnosis.

Wout Weghorst is joining on loan until the end of the season, what will he add to the squad?
''He is a striker and we had an open position there to fill in. I think in the balance of the offensive [players], he really fits in. I am really happy and I don't think we had the type what he is. Most importantly, he can score goals from everywhere and he was always a surprise at every club in every league. That is also what I expect here. For here, I expect a team player and someone who can link up, a player who will do his defending work and we are really happy to sign him.''

You spoke about rhythm earlier this week, what is the balance between rotation and keeping players fresh?

''With all the games, it is never about 11 players, it is always about the squad. Weeks like this, the rhythm is so important, so bring in Casemiro, Christian Eriksen and Rashy [Marcus Rashford] at the end of the game, otherwise they wouldn't have trained for a couple of days, which is never good. We have to find the right balance and the right focus with that so that they keep going. I think they are playing at a high level and they have to keep that going, as the team performances have been good. Also the individuals will contribute to it and they will keep their process and their own development going.''
We are the only English side to still be in all four competitions, how big of a challenge is that for you to keep the squad balanced and ready for all the challenges still to come?
''We have a squad and we use that squad. We are looking really good in terms of managing the load of the players to keep that balance. In top football, you live on limits and we are aware of that. So don't go too much across those limits because we have to keep the players fit and fresh, so we can win every game. We want to win every game, and in top football nowadays, you have to act every third day. The players do their work in terms of lifestyle and recovery, from food, then they can act and keep this high level until the end of the season.''