Ten Hag: We have to get the job done

Wednesday 01 February 2023 07:00

Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag insists his players remain fully focused on the task at hand, as we prepare to take on Nottingham Forest in our Carabao Cup semi-final second-leg tie at Old Trafford this evening (20:00 GMT).

Holding a commanding 3-0 lead following the first-leg at The City Ground last week, the Reds are bidding to reach a first Wembley cup final since our 2018 trip to the capital to face Chelsea in the Emirates FA Cup.

Goals from Marcus Rashford, Wout Weghorst and Bruno Fernandes ensure United are firm favourites to progress to February's showpiece event at Wembley Stadium, with a huge 90 minutes still to come against Steve Cooper's side.

Erik was able to provide updates on his playing squad ahead of the clash, as well as his views on young players and the English loan system.

Below, you can read, or watch, everything the boss had to say ahead of tonight's second-leg showdown in M16...

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

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

New | Ten Hag discusses Eriksen's setback, our recent loan departures and the latest United team news...

With the scoreline already at 3-0 in our favour in the tie against Nottingham Forest, is it a test of your consistent message to the players, which has worked so well to date, to avoid any complacency?
''We have to go into this game with know-how, it’s another cup and we want to go to Wembley. It’s a long time ago that Manchester United went to a final, and to win the final - that is our aim. So we have to do everything for it and that means we have to be fully focused, full energy and a top game-plan. We face a good team, Nottingham Forest, who are having a really good run. We have to be aware of that so it’s up to us.''

Can you sense from the fans singing about Wembley how big a deal it is to them to try to get back there for the first time in a final since 2018?
''Ah, it’s great and that vibe with the fans is there and, tomorrow, it has to be there. And not only with the fans, also with us, but we know what we have to do. We have to be professional and ready for this game so front foot. That is the mark and has to be our approach, to our players, and then we have to get the job done.''
Forest have had a weekend off and will be keen to make up for the first leg - what did you make of their performance at The City Ground and what are you expecting from them at Old Trafford?
''I just said I expect a really ambitious Nottingham Forest. They will go [hard], of course, they are well prepared but it’s up to us. As always, it’s up to us. It doesn’t matter which opponents we face, we have to take it seriously and, more importantly, want to be better. Better than the day before - our approach is good is not good enough. We have to be better. The first leg was 3-0 but the game is starting tomorrow with 0-0. We want to keep the momentum going.''

Fans will be concerned to hear about the extent of Christian Eriksen’s ankle injury – are you hopeful that he can get back in time to play a part in the final stages of the season?
''I hope and it’s a disappointment for him, in the first place. For the team, second, but we have to deal with it. It’s up to him to get back as soon as possible and I know he will do everything what is in his power to return as quickly as possible. In the meantime, we have to keep winning games.''

And is there any other team news to share on other absentees or returning players?
''It’s also we have some issues. I think, tomorrow, Martial and Sancho will return in the game squad. Scott McTominay will still be absent so I think it will also be the next game [against Crystal Palace on Saturday] he will be absent. We have to see how that process will go. For the rest, I think everyone is fit.''

Eriksen injury update


The club provides the latest on the ankle problem sustained by our influential midfielder.

Should we expect to see more opportunities for some of our younger players tomorrow night, for example Kobbie Mainoo has forced his way into your plans recently?
''I think they are there because we need them. They are there because they perform. They are there because they deserved it and so, when they get called up, they have to be ready. That is what I expect. It doesn’t matter if you’re young or old. You have to be ready if the team needs you.''

What are your thoughts on the loan system in this country? How beneficial will senior football be for the likes of Shoretire, Savage and McNeill?
''I would rather prefer that they stay here, in our way of playing, but what we miss is a good league where they get the right resistance to act every week or twice a week, and face the right level where they can compete because, finally, the competition, the league games that is the best tool of development. That is what we miss, therefore, the loan system is a good replacement for it.''
Just finally, we’ll speak more when the competition resumes, but the FA Cup draw has pitted us with West Ham at home - what are your thoughts about that tie?
''I’m happy for our fans that it is a home game. It’s definitely an impact opponent. We have to be really good to throw them out and that means we have to play our best game to get that done. But that is over a month, even more than one month away. First, we have to deal with a lot of other games. So the focus, in this moment is not right on that. Of course, we are looking at that, the FA Cup, it is a great opportunity, a great competition. We want to go as far as possible and are aiming to win that cup. But, at this moment, it is not our focus point.''