Ten Hag: We have to pay the fans back

Saturday 18 May 2024 08:00

Erik ten Hag has promised better times are around the corner at Manchester United, and it will reward the fans who have loyally stuck behind the team.

The Reds have experienced a difficult season but can end it on a high. If we better Newcastle United's result at Brentford on Sunday, in our final-day fixture at Brighton & Hove Albion, then European football will be guaranteed next term.

The following weekend, United face neighbours Manchester City in the Emirates FA Cup final at Wembley.

Ten Hag is embracing the challenges ahead and told club media's Mark Sullivan of his determination that the supporters go into the summer break happy.

Extended Q&A: Brighton v United Video

Extended Q&A: Brighton v United

PRE-MATCH Q&A | Hear from Erik ten Hag and Roberto De Zerbi ahead of our final league game...

It was a really good win against Newcastle, after which you gave that rallying cry to the crowd, which everyone really responded well to. How good did that connection feel?
“It’s fantastic to feel that fight, to feel the strong bond between the team and the fans, and we have seen it through the whole season and in difficult moments. They are always with us and always backing the team, they stuck with us and that is a fantastic feeling, if you can build such a strong bond. We invested a lot, the fans and the team, in difficult moments. Stay with each other and you have good times, and I’m sure the good times will come. We’re building up, the fans see this and they recognise this and, of course, they count on us. We have to pay them back.”

The result was good with some fantastic goals scored as well, so how happy were you with the overall level of performance?
“I think it was a good performance and we achieved good levels – as a team and individuals. As you say, we scored some great goals. It was enjoyable to watch and to give a good finish at Old Trafford but we have still two games to go to finish and the season is not over.”

What's the squad looking like for the trip to Brighton? We appreciate you've not had much time as a group together since the game…
“No, we have some days to go but there are players returning. They’re desperate to play any minute and, of course, definitely in the final in one week but, on Sunday, we have a very important game to play. We need a better result than Newcastle. So yeah, that we will put out a line [-up] what is strong and the strongest we have. But, at the same time, we have to find the balance, that we also try to bring players returning from injury back on the pitch.”

Is a difficult balance to make?
“It’s very difficult because, as I say, we have to win this game.”

It was good to see [Lisandro] Martinez back on the pitch, Marcus [Rashford] back on the pitch for some minutes and Bruno [Fernandes] played well, nearly the whole game…
“Yes, also he didn’t miss so much and he’s fit. I would say that is one of my least concerns, if he can keep going. He’s fresh and he’s in very good form but the others you mentioned, it’s important. They missed some games. Rashford, since Coventry, but, of course, Licha Martinez missed, I would say, almost the whole season. So every minute that he can get, we have to give him.”

Who gets the players' vote? Video

Who gets the players' vote?

Four Reds let us into their thinking for the Players' Player of the Year award...

Brighton just lost to Chelsea but they finish in front of their own fans, they'll want to finish strong. So, how dangerous does that make them?
“Yeah, but we have to make sure that we are dangerous for them and we have to prepare the team very good because we know we're playing a typical style, a style I admire. But they have also the weaknesses and we have to take benefit from the weaknesses, as you should.”

And just finally, the FA Cup was won in sensational style by the women's team at the weekend. Just got a really great result. Now they've finishing their league campaign at Old Trafford against Chelsea. What's your message to the fans who may be thinking to come along to support the team?
“Yeah, I think everyone wants to see the cup winners and the FA Cup winners this season, so we really hope that many fans come to Old Trafford to support the team and I hope they do it in the same way as they support the men’s team.”