Ten Hag: Victory at Villa is massive for us

Sunday 11 February 2024 20:11

Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag was particularly pleased with the opening and closing stages of his side's 2-1 victory over Aston Villa, a result he described as a "massive win" in the race for Champions League places.

Had the fifth-placed hosts triumphed in this fixture on their turf, just as they did last season, they would have been 11 points clear of the Reds. Instead, the gap between the sides is now just five points, and both will harbour hopes of at least overtaking Tottenham Hotspur in fourth.

Ten Hag felt his team dominated the first 20 minutes at Villa Park, a period in which Rasmus Hojlund opened the scoring with his fifth goal in as many league games. And he was also pleased that his players found a way to overcome the blow of conceding an equaliser to Douglas Luiz and decisively regain the lead, as Scott McTominay once again came on as a substitute to head in a late winner, this time in the 86th minute.

Below, you can watch Erik's post-match interview with MUTV, or scroll down to read the key quotes from his conversation with Sky Sports.
Ten Hag: We have to keep this going Video

Ten Hag: We have to keep this going

Erik ten Hag says his team must continue to fight for results, after our crucial victory at Villa Park...


“It was massive. It's a massive win for us. So, we get closer. And that was the aim for today and was absolutely our target. And we did it. And I think also the way we did it, I think I liked it, and of course, I liked especially the first 20 minutes. And when we are dictating the game, after I think we are dropping a little bit too much. We had our moments in the counter attacks, but yeah, I think then at 1-1, to fight back, we are really happy for today.”


“In that moment, you always have to to see how a game progresses. And I think it was really high intensity and you could see how many players were so, so fatigued by the end. It was so open and it could go two ways. But then finally, I think we found the mentality, the character to win this game. And I think also the subs, they have had an impact.”

“[It meant] Bruno could become more of a midfielder then in the offensive. I understand the players see the spaces and go for goal in such moments because they are offensive, they want to score goals. But I think it was better in certain situations to keep the ball and let the opponent run, drag them out and then it will open up. And so that was more the idea to bring an extra midfielder there. But with Scott, you have a player who can score a goal.”


“I think our defensive organisation was, in the first part, very good. And once we were winning, then we changed our mindset. For me, you should play on and you can do this when a game is going to the end and to play out the result. But when you show you are dictating the first 20 minutes and you score, why not keep going?”

“[It was a] precaution. He mentioned some complaints and we can't take a risk with, especially Luke Shaw, because he has had so many injuries in the past. We took him off so that it did not become an injury. We have to see how it develops in the coming days.”


“It's not an advantage. Everyone knows my philosophy, to have Licha Martinez and Luke Shaw, two left-footed [defenders], and we also we haven't had Tyrell Malacia available for the whole season. So all the way, all the time, we have to make compromises. And that is not in our advantage. But today we managed it, and hopefully it's not too bad with Luke.”


“I never think in negative scenarios, I'm thinking positive. We know we have to catch up, but we are not there yet and still we have to catch up. But I think we are in a good mood and we have to keep this process going and we have to still improve. If we do this, with many games to play, we will see what happens.”

Match videos:

  • Ten Hag's post-match press conference Video

    Ten Hag's post-match press conference

    Press conference | Erik is asked about Scott McTominay's impact, Luke Shaw's withdrawal and more...

  • Maguire: We stuck together Video

    Maguire: We stuck together

    Harry Maguire identifies team spirit as a key trait in our victory at Villa Park...

  • Arriving for action Video

    Arriving for action

    The Reds turn up at Villa Park ahead of our approaching Premier League clash...

  • Going through the gears Video

    Going through the gears

    Watch the Reds up the intensity ahead of kick-off at Villa Park...