Ten Hag’s matchday Q&A

Monday 22 August 2022 07:00

Erik ten Hag expects to see a Manchester United performance that our home crowd can feed off during this evening’s game against Liverpool at Old Trafford.

The Reds go head-to-head with our old rivals in the latest Premier League instalment of the historic fixture at 20:00 BST, searching for a first win of the new campaign and the Dutchman’s tenure, following two tough defeats to open the season. 

In his exclusive matchday interview with club media, Erik discusses the desire for his team to put on a showing that the fans at the Theatre of Dreams can get behind. He also provides the key team news, as well as speaking about the rivalry, his United philosophy and more.

You can see the Q&A in full below…

How is the squad shaping up for the game, physically? Could we see Victor Lindelof or Anthony Martial return?

“Victor has not returned to the training pitch yet, but the good news is that Anthony Martial is back in training with the team.”

That’s great news and a massive boost ahead of what is a massive game. There’s always a lot of excitement and passion around this fixture. Do you see this as the ideal opportunity to show its fighting spirit?
“I think in any game you have to show that: it’s a way of life. But especially against Liverpool, it has to be one bracket extra.”
Ten Hag: You love football for games like this Video

Ten Hag: You love football for games like this

Ahead of our game against Liverpool, the boss discusses this fixture, his United team, the fans and more...

You’ve experienced De Klassieker in the Netherlands, you know what a big derby is all about. Are these the matches a manager lives for? Is this what you really look forward to?
“I think the manager [and] the players. Let’s say this: you started to play football to have the experience of a game like this. So, we are really excited and we’re really looking forward to this game.”

We know you have a strong vision of what you want to see in your team – has pre-season and the start of the campaign only reinforced your commitment to the strategy and philosophy you first outlined?

“Yeah, definitely. It confirmed my philosophy and now we have obviously [had] a setback but I know the reasons and we have to work on that. We will clear it. But we stick to the philosophy and the plan.”
You described your ideal team as a ‘fighting machine’ in your first interview. What does the Erik ten Hag United team you’re beginning to build look like?
“It was clear that last Saturday I was unhappy with that factor. I think it’s the basic stuff, what you have to bring at least as an individual and as a team on the pitch, but also what the fans can expect from us. That is what we didn’t do. I feel really sorry after Saturday’s game what we delivered for our fans.”

Each time we speak to the players, they are all fully committed to your philosophy and plans and they’re taking on board what you and the coaches are aiming for. Do you see progress on the training pitch over the first two months?
“I’ve seen really good things, until Atletico Madrid [the friendly in Oslo]. After it, it’s a drop. We have to turn that around quickly, but it’s normal in the process. You grow and then you get a drop. But it’s about keeping the right pattern and the pattern going up.”

Ten Hag: We stick to the plan


Erik's faith in his philosophy has not been shaken despite a disappointing start to the season.

You are trying to build a squad – and recruit new players – with the correct mentality and characteristics. How would you describe the ideal Erik ten Hag player?
“It starts with the basic stuff: reliable, you have a drive, you have the motivation – highly motivated. You want to fight, and you bring it every day on the training pitch. You want to maximise, you want to strengthen the squad. You are a unified club, a unified team and most of all you are prepared to win.”

Is it during challenging times like these where we see a manager and a player’s true character? Do you expect a reaction over the next few weeks?
“I don’t like to react. I want to act.”

What does Erik look for in a player?


The manager outlines his preferred characteristics as the final stages of the transfer window approach.

Your management ethos is all about bringing players and staff together – how do you achieve that unity and commitment to the strategy in these early days and how important will that be, the unification of everyone on Monday night against Liverpool?
“It’s always important but be honest, be transparent. Tell each other the expectation, the demands and stick to that. You have a philosophy, you have a plan, and then finally the people they make the difference.”

Finally, do you have a message for United’s supporters? What do you want to see and hear from 70,000 Reds on Monday night?
“Of course, I can say I hope they are behind us. But first the team has to act, to show and then I’m sure they will be behind us.”