Ten Hag: Rasmus is really excited for home debut

Saturday 16 September 2023 07:00

Erik ten Hag is ready for Manchester United's season to resume at Old Trafford this afternoon, after an international break in which many of his players performed well for their countries and, importantly, the vast majority returned to the fold without any new injuries to report.

A fortnight's hiatus in the domestic campaign has enabled the manager and his staff to reflect on the Reds' last outing, the dramatic late defeat away to Arsenal, and to plot the way forward, beginning with today's home Premier League game against high-flying Brighton & Hove Albion.

And from what the boss told us about a debutant against the Gunners, Rasmus Hojlund, it would seem that our summer signing from Atalanta is set for another big day at his new club.

You can watch and read our exclusive pre-match interview with Ten Hag below as we count down to kick-off at 15:00 BST...
Matchday Q&A | Ten Hag on Brighton (H) Video

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

Matchday Q&A | Erik discusses the Premier League's return, Brighton's threat, Sofyan Amrabat and more...

Erik, after a long wait during the international break to see if the players return fit, how are things looking with the squad and are you happy to have them back?
“Yes, always. You wait for the return and then, hopefully, they're all good. So it looks like they are all back very good. And if you see the results from all the internationals, they did quite well, I would say really well. And they all had good performances. I think they came back with a lot of motivation, back after good performances, and now they're looking forward. We know what to do. We are in the season, four games now we have played, and you see the progress.”

It has probably been a long two weeks for you and your staff between Premier League games. Are you, yourself, excited to be back on Saturday?

“Yeah, of course. But it was also after the pre-season, very intense, the first games and you need some time to reflect, reflect on yourself, reflect on the team, see where we are, and we use the time very good to make that reflection, but also to plan and to go forward. And what we have to do is keep the progress.”
Our game against Arsenal was so close to having a very different result. But what moments of that performance are you looking to build on when we face Brighton?
“As you said, it was a good performance, we didn't get a result and we had absolutely, in the 86th minute and in the 88th minute, two big opportunities to win a game. So it is really disappointing when you don't get the win and then, finally, you lose. It was, of course, a bad moment and you go in a bad mood into the break, but after one day, you reflected that we are really progressing as a team. Spirit is good and they fight together. We get more consistent and so we are happy. We have to be happy. But of course, we know football and you have to win. And at United definitely.”

A lot of people admire the way that Brighton play. What do you think of their attacking threat?
“It's a very good side but I love to play against them. And, last year, we had two incredible, good matches. One we won, in a semi-final against them at Wembley. One, we lose in the last dying seconds of the game. So it's really head to head. We know we have to be good, so we have to do and put in everything to get the right result.”

You mentioned it just there, we were unable to get the better of them in the Premier League last season, but came through a pretty tense FA Cup semi-final. Are you after that similar mentality going into this game?
“Yeah, that should have been the mentality, every day, every game, and you need that winning mentality and, therefore, you need spirit in the team. But everyone also has to take responsibility for their performance.”

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Every Red is excited to see Rasmus Hojlund again and, equally, Brighton fans are looking forward to seeing Evan Ferguson because he has been making plenty of headlines. How important do you think both players are going to be in the game?
“I hope Rasmus is really important in this game, but he's so excited. It's his first time [playing at] Old Trafford. He's really looking forward to it. He’s so excited, he wants to [feel] the reception, experience the reception from the fans, from Old Trafford, and that's incredible, isn't it? And as he is a really big Manchester United fan as a young kid, so it is amazing for him to enter Old Trafford tomorrow with our home fans and I'm sure they will all be behind him and behind the team.”

You look pleased just talking about how much of a United fan Hojlund is. Does that excite you as a coach working with him?
“He gives good spirit in the team. He gives energy and he's so dedicated. Dedicated to play for this team and to play for this club, but also dedicated to scoring goals.”
Brighton kicks off a very busy few weeks of fixtures for us, especially with the Champions League and Carabao Cup returning. How important is utilising the whole squad with these busy fixtures coming up?
“Yeah, that will be the case, but we have to go from game to game. The first game is always most important. So we focus on tomorrow.”

And when it comes to extra options, we've now got Sofyan Amrabat and Sergio Reguilon. Can fans expect them to see them involved soon, do you think?

“I think so, yeah. We are a little bit short of defenders, so [Reguilon] can come quickly. Amrabat, he came back unfortunately with the injury so he will not be available for tomorrow, but I think, in short notice, yes. And I'm sure we will all get joy from them.”