Every word from Ten Hag's press conference

Monday 11 December 2023 13:04

Erik ten Hag fielded questions on consistency, belief and the importance of the fans at Old Trafford as he spoke at the pre-match press conference for Manchester United's crucial Champions League clash with Bayern Munich.

The manager was joined at the media briefing by Scott McTominay, the scorer of both goals when the Reds beat Chelsea 2-1 at home in our previous midweek game, last Wednesday night in the Premier League.

You can find the Scotland international's quotes in our separate story, watch the full press conference below and scroll down to read every word from Erik.
Press conference: United v Bayern Munich Video

Press conference: United v Bayern Munich

Press conference | Erik ten Hag and Scott McTominay discuss consistency, mentality and more ahead of Bayern Munich...

Erik, you're obviously not in a great position going into your final group game. What would the feeling around this club be if you can't qualify out of this group?
“I don't know. What I know is I never think in negative scenarios. I only think positive. We know what we have to do, we have to win to stay in Europe, so it's all about that. So I will prepare the team with that feeling, with that belief that we can do it. I think we have shown in the last weeks, when we are at our best, we can do it.”

Going into this season, going into the Champions League on the back of last season, what were your ambitions for the competition? Obviously not to go out in the group stage but did you believe you could go far in this competition, win the competition?

“First, I don't think about winning the competition when you start the season. First it's about getting into a position where you can win. So now we still have the opportunity, it's not any more in our hands, but we want to stay in Europe and therefore we know what we have to do. We have to win to stay in Europe.”

Erik, I'm just wondering how the team's looking? Is anyone returning or anyone unavailable?
“It's a condensed programme so we have a training [session later], so at this moment, I'm not sure about everyone, who's available for tomorrow. But the question mark is on Victor Lindelof, whether he can make it or not. We have to wait and see until tomorrow.”
You're saying you're not looking in a negative way towards the game. But you're facing a side that hasn't lost a group-stage game in the Champions League since September 2017. You're coming off the back of the Bournemouth match. What does give you hope?
“It's our team. We are not consistent, [that is] clear. But we have also a very good performance and highs. So if we get it, when we are in the right spirit and then we are able to do it, then we are able to beat any opponent.”

Following on from that question, what gives you the belief, Erik, that the team can win tomorrow and extend your stay in Europe? Because the form hasn't been good. It's been 14 goals conceded, three defeats. What gives you the belief? What have you seen that gives you the belief the team can go ahead and do that tomorrow night?
“As I said, the game against Chelsea, the game against Everton and even the game against Galatasaray. And so I know this team can perform at really high levels. We did it three months ago. We did it last week. And so, I know we can do it. When we have the right mood, we have the right spirit and it starts with the right attitude, when everyone is ready for it, we are able to do it.”

There’s a concern you don't know which of your teams is going to turn up, because you have a great performance against Chelsea and then you have what happened at the weekend. Is that the most frustrating thing for you as a manager - you don't know which Manchester United is going to turn up?
“It's not about getting frustrated about it. We have to work on it. So that's my responsibility, to set the team, to prepare the team and that they improve on the fact and I will give everything and I know my players will do as well.”
Erik, how do you inject that belief into your players? What kind of methods do you employ to give them that?
“We have to show them the clips from Chelsea [at home] and how we can play. And if we do that, if we are there all on one page, stick together and we have a good plan, then we go. As I said, we can beat any opponent.”

In the first game against Bayern, there were quite a lot of injuries to contend with but the team responded quite strongly to conceding goals and it was quite a tight end to the game. Do you take encouragement from that performance going into the game tomorrow night?
“Yeah, of course. There were stages in the game when we played very good. It was head to head in that game for a long time in the game. We also suffered some mistakes which were absolutely avoidable. But that is one thing you show when you play against Bayern Munich, you have to play your best because they have a good team, they have very good football players. But as I said, Chelsea also have amazing players and we went head to head with them and we dominated them. So I think we can do that against Bayern as well.”

Erik, the atmosphere was very loud in Munich. It was bouncing in Copenhagen. It was brilliant in Istanbul. What do you want from Manchester United fans tomorrow night at Old Trafford?

“Yeah, it's clear. I think Old Trafford is not a nice place to come for an opponent, and we are aware of it. It starts with us. But then, of course, you hope that the fans, we are together. As long as I am here, I always have had that feeling that we are absolutely together. There is a very strong bond between the team and the fans. They are always behind us, even when we have big setbacks, they stay behind us, they support us, so we are very happy with that. But we have to take the responsibility. It starts with us. We have to energise them.”
Erik, you said on Saturday, that you didn't think this squad was good enough to be consistent. But in the second half of last season, you were considered good enough to finish third. You reached two cup finals. What has the biggest change been from then to now, to make you say on Saturday that you didn't think that you're good enough to be consistent at the moment?
“We had a regular team [last season], not so many changes, I think especially in our backline. For a long time, we had a regular formation and that helps you get the routines in. So we have to wait for that and until that moment, we have to deal with it. As every team has to deal with it. It’s not only us. But I'm sure when we get back to a regular base, then we will play better and you have better opportunity to win games, and you have a better opportunity of a challenge, that you are consistent.”

So it’s simply a personnel issue rather than a mentality issue?
“I think, first of all, it's personnel but I am aware and that is my job. You have to be really tough if you have to do it every third day. But we are not the only team. I see the inconsistency from other teams in this period in the Premier League. I think the players are not robots but the team who can deal the best with it, they will come [finish] the most high.”