Erik: We want to compete with world's best

Thursday 16 March 2023 21:10

Erik ten Hag has stressed he wants his Manchester United side to be able to compete with the best teams in the world, after another polished performance on the road in Spain.

The Reds won 1-0 at Real Betis to complete a convincing 5-1 aggregate success in the Europa League, over one of La Liga's top outfits, to back up victory at Real Sociedad, in the group stages and a fantastic 2-2 draw away to Barcelona in the play-off.

After a questionable previous record on Spanish soil, United seem to have corrected that this term and the boss was satisfied with another professional display, while maintaining focus ahead of Sunday's Emirates FA Cup quarter-final with Fulham.

In his post-match interviews with the official broadcasters, including MUTV, and at his press conference, he answered questions on the game, goalscorer Marcus Rashford, Facundo Pellistri and more...

Erik: We had to avoid energising the home crowd Video

Erik: We had to avoid energising the home crowd

Ten Hag was pleased with the way United defended to avoid Real Betis gaining a foothold back in the tie...


"Of course, what we have to avoid is getting the stadium lightened up, to give them energy by conceding a goal. So don't light up the stadium. We have seen there was some noise at the start of the game. We allowed them some transition moments but, once you score that first goal, the game is gone for them. They don't have the belief any more and you have to manage that away stadium. We could have scored before half-time because the first goal is so important. We created some chances but the final pass was not good, the finish was not good. It was still 0-0 and they still believed but, after the 1-0 for us, I think their belief was gone already."


"It was another step we made in mentality. A winning attitude and how to deal with that [away crowd]. We performed now three times quite well in away games in Spain. Two wins and one draw. That is okay but I think that is the way you have to face these games."


"I think he missed two big chances but then he can deal with that. That is important for a striker, you can deal with not every chance can be a goal. He will always be in the position he can score and he has to be focused on that. He keeps trying and he got his reward. It tells you something about the team performance and something about him [his goal record]. We have discussed a lot about the issue from the start of the season: if Rashy keeps his focus and makes sure he has the energy, the way we play, the way he has to play in that system and style, he will come into scoring positions and then it's about him. He has the abilities to finish. That's what I try to explain [to you] - also good strikers must know not every chance is a goal. On this level, you don't create five or six chances in a top game so one of the two [chances] has to be in." 


"It's not about learning. When you play for Manchester United, you have to perform and he came in a little bit shy. But, after, you could see he got the belief and he was really in the game. Really good actions, really good movement in behind and that was the mark before the game from a tactical approach. Defensively, he did his job really well and, all over, I think it was a good performance. I think he deserved to come on. I see him progressing and getting stronger. He was good when he came in against Leeds and Betis in the home game. He's got belief and then you see his abilities. I'm very pleased with his performance. It was a step up for more but, once again, it is about him - what he can bring and what he can contribute to the team."

How did Pellistri fare on his first start?


We take an in-depth look at the Uruguayan's performance against Real Betis.


"We have to progress every day. We still have many gaps in the way we play. We have to work on that. We have to improve that because we want to compete with the best teams in the world. At Manchester United, we have to win every competition. This competition is important, it's also about the trophy but also about the qualification for the Champions League next year."


"It's a big game on Sunday. We know that so we have to do everything what is in our power to get that done. We have less time, we know, but we can manage that. We've done it several times and also Sunday, we must get the energy, get the focus and get ready for the start. It's the FA Cup and a big fixture, a big match for us. After Sunday, we will see - it's the international break and we can refocus."