Every word from Erik’s pre-Brighton press conference

Friday 05 August 2022 15:44

Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag has spoken to the media ahead of his first Premier League match in charge, at home to Brighton & Hove Albion on Sunday.

The Reds’ campaign kicks off with a visit from Graham Potter’s side (14:00 BST) and prior to the match, Ten Hag held his first Carrington press conference. 

In the Friday afternoon media briefing, the boss was asked about Anthony Martial’s availability, transfer targets, Cristiano Ronaldo and more. 

Scroll down to see everything the Dutchman said…

Erik, you said given his late return, Cristiano Ronaldo is not up to the full fitness of the rest of the squad but with Anthony Martial's injury, are you tempted to use him on Sunday, to start him or do you feel you have enough options and you don't need to rush him?
"We will see on Sunday."

With Anthony Martial's injury, does that highlight the need for United to be stronger in looking for attacking options in the market?
"We said it before, in the depth of the squad, we're still searching to strengthen the squad."

In terms of the shape of the squad for Sunday, how are you feeling about it?

"I think we will have solutions to sort it out."
Part one | Erik's press conference v Brighton Video

Part one | Erik's press conference v Brighton

Press conference | Get the latest news and views from Ten Hag ahead of Saturday's Premier League opener...

It's been a bit of a concern for the supporters for quite some time that the club don't have a defensive midfielder, are you comfortable going into the season with the midfielders you've got available?
"I think so. We saw pre-season, we did pretty well there in that department so I'm convinced we have a good team, a good squad, what I said before about the depth of the squad, we can still strengthen the squad, but I think the team shows they can play in a good level."

The players that you brought in that only started playing with you in Oslo, [Christian] Eriksen and [Lisandro] Martinez, are they fit enough to start on Sunday and if they are, does that give you a particular problem at centre-half, given you've got people like [Harry] Maguire and [Raphael] Varane who have got a lot of experience?
"I like such problems. I think that is what we are talking about, we need that in this squad, competition is one but also we go into a long season with a lot of games, so we need a lot of good players."

Are they available to start, fit enough to start?
"I think they are fit enough to start."

It's obviously been a long off-season, a lot's gone on, you're here because this club didn't reach expectations last year, so now the season's upon us, how excited are you? What is your overriding emotion, is it nerves, is it excitement or are you just champing at the bit to get going?
"As you said, it's exciting as every season but of course when you are going into the season with a new club and a new team, I think we work really good but also tough in the last weeks to get a base and I think we have the confidence that we have that base, so I'm really looking forward to Sunday."

What are your thoughts on Brighton, what do you expect from them?

"It's a good team, [they] play decent football, [they] play attractive football. I like them for what I saw."
What is the situation with Cristiano at the moment? We saw your quotes to a Dutch media outlet about the Rayo game, there's been a lot of speculation with him all summer so what is the situation with him, do you feel he is happy?
"What do you mean? Clarify your question please."

So, obviously, there's been comments... you said about the Rayo game that it was unacceptable that those that left early, it was unacceptable...
"Wait, now I have to point. Those who left, there were many players who left but the spotlight is on Cristiano and that's not right, so I think, do your research and make out that many players left - which is not correct. That is what I said."

But also, there has been talk all summer about Cristiano, so how do you feel starting the season with him?
"Good but I don't understand what the relation is. He was part of it, once again, there were a lot of players."

I'm talking in a broader sense...
"So, what do you mean?"

With Cristiano, are you happy he's content? Have you spoke to him since you got back from the tour of Australia and Thailand?
"I'm really happy. I had told you before, we planned with him for the season. We have a top striker and I'm really happy he's here, he's in the squad and we stick to the plan."

Ten Hag happy to have Ronaldo on board


The boss responded to media questions about Cristiano during his pre-match press conference.

Do you feel you currently have a squad strong enough to finish in the top four?
"I think what our aim is, is to win every game, this is what Man United is standing for."

Would top four for you be a good first season, fourth for example in the first season and show progress?
"I think we have to look forward to the first game and the approach has to be, we want to win every game. So, let's start Sunday."

Going back to Cristiano Ronaldo and the other players who left, how can it be that they would think this is okay because I have never known any player involved in a match leave early, and I'm singling out Ronaldo because he's the only one we know played... but just generally, aren't you disappointed that your players think that's okay under you?
"I think we said enough of it, it's not correct, [that’s] clear."

Is Anthony [Martial] unavailable for Sunday?

And how long do you think he will be out for because of this injury?
"It's always difficult to say with such injuries and I hope not too long."

Ten Hag reveals team news for opener


The Reds boss delivers an update on his plans for Sunday's visit of Brighton to Old Trafford.

Sorry to bring you back to Cristiano again, but how has he trained this week, do you get the sense he is ready and willing to give his all when he does come onto the pitch for you?
"I think I'm totally satisfied with the whole team, and they are really working good. It's a good culture and Cristiano is working really good, really tough and hard."

The game against Brighton at the end of last season was seen as it a bit of a low point for Man United fans, did you watch that game? Have you watched that game as part of your preparations for this game and are you confident that progress has already been made in the offseason to avoid something like that happening again?
"Last season is last season, I'm not looking back, I'm looking forward to prepare the team for Sunday, for the future and that's it."

In terms of it being unacceptable, is it a case of explaining it to the players and then you move on? Or is there another reprimand that you need to give in that kind of situation? When leaving early from the game...
"[It's clear]. You mention it, you correct them and then you move on."

Can I just ask on the full-backs, what's your view? Is it Luke Shaw and Tyrell Malacia competing on the left and Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Diogo Dalot competing on the right, or in your mind are you clear on who is going to be in those positions?
"In the start of the season, that is all open and we have to cover many, many games so we need players, we need quality players to cover all the games, but I can tell in advance that no one can play all the games."
Predicting the line-up v Brighton Video

Predicting the line-up v Brighton

Have you made your United Predictions? Before you do, see what an ex-Red and a fan think about our line-up…

A lot of your predecessors here have been frustrated or perhaps surprised at the difficulty of bringing in players for a club of Manchester United's size - how do you feel about the activity in the transfer market this summer and would you have expected to have those players in place for the start of the season?
"That would be a good situation, but I have a squad and I'm happy with the squad, the current squad, they make good progress, I'm happy with the signings until now. We just don't need any player, you need the right players and that's the point, where we're working all together."

Would you be happy not to sign anymore if, as you say, they're not the right players?

"If it's not the right player, no. Then I'm happy with the current squad. We need the right players."

Just on that, you're obviously very clear that you want to a holding midfielder and you're very heavily linked with Frenkie de Jong, are you getting to a point though now where you might have to draw a line under that and get an alternative player in, or are you prepared to wait and wait and wait with him and if you don't get him, leave it and wait until another transfer window?
"We want Frenkie? I don't know. It's about the right players and there are many, but I cannot give comments about a player who is under contract in another club. When we have news, we will bring it."

But for you and your style of play, the importance of the holding midfielder to that role, can you stomach the idea of the transfer window closing and a player of that ilk not coming in, is that acceptable to you?

"You work with the current squad and then you develop players who are in your current squad. In this moment, there are players in that position, and they are performing really well."