Every word from Ten Hag's press conference

Wednesday 15 March 2023 21:30

Erik ten Hag discussed team news, squad depth, six-horse title races and more in his press conference to preview the away leg of Manchester United's Europa League tie against Real Betis.

Joined at the top table by his Argentinian centre-back Lisandro Martinez, whose quotes you can find in our separate story, the Reds boss was in ebullient mood despite having only just landed in Sevilla from a mid-afternoon departure.

Below you can watch the media briefing in full or scroll down to read all of Erik's comments...

Watch Ten Hag and Martinez's press conference Video

Watch Ten Hag and Martinez's press conference

Press conference | Erik ten Hag and Lisandro Martinez field reporters' questions before Real Betis v United...

We saw the update from Alejandro Garnacho saying he’s going to be out for the upcoming games. What’s the severity of the injury and when would you expect him to be available for Manchester United?
"I can't say exactly at this moment but it will take weeks. So it’s a serious injury I didn’t expect. A foul and a serious injury once again, after Christian Eriksen, a serious injury after a contact."

Why is Antony absent? Is he unwell. or injured?
"Yes, unwell. Illness."

Given those two are absent, might this be an opportunity for Facundo Pellistri to start? He has had a few substitute appearances…
"You will see tomorrow. We have some options. Of course we have Sancho, we have Elanga, we have Bruno. So we have several options but Pellistri is definitely also one and he is doing really well lately when he came on.”
You’ve got Casemiro and Bruno both one booking away from being banned in the next round, if you get there. Given you’re 4-1 up, do you risk them tomorrow or do you keep them back on the bench?
“No, we play both because it’s a very good opponent. Last week we had a good result but we have to go again and you need your best players. We need a result, we need a win, so then we need our best team.”

Just on Alejandro, he stayed on after the injury so what was the process there and also the type of tackle it was, did you have any grievance with that?
“It was a scissor tackle, so not a good decision after all. It was difficult to make a diagnosis that quickly. I saw him limping and that's why I took him off. Also, because it was my last opportunity to sub and I had to bring ‘H’ [Harry Maguire] on as well.”

It's 4-1 from the first leg so is there any change in tactics? I know you’ve been asked about resting certain players, you’ve not rested many players through all the cup competitions this season. There have been very few changes so is it the same again, even with the 4-1 lead and injuries are piling up? Does it change later on in the season, now that’s everything getting more serious and competitions are coming to the end?
"It's always serious and we will play our best team. We have to put up a team that can adapt during the game. We know our opponent can because they have a good team, they have really good players. They have a lot of variations, so we have to be aware of that and we have to be ready to go and battle with them.”

Will Garnacho be back this season?


Erik provides an update on the young Argentinian forward and discusses who could replace him against Real Betis.

Erik, as you said, you’ve lost Alejandro Garnacho to a serious injury and you lost Christian Eriksen to a serious injury as well because of a tackle. You spoke on Sunday about the inconsistency in refereeing. Is that something you have spoken to the Premier League about, is it something you want to see addressed?
"We have the injuries, and we have the red cards. That is the combination.”

Is there something you have approached them about in particular?
“We have had some talks with them. It's not about the referee, it’s about us. We have to bring our performance and we have to focus on that.”

Just on Alejandro, he was obviously having a very good season, so how difficult for him is it to have the injury now?
"Of course, it’s difficult. He makes good progression and he was selected by the national team. It was a big moment for him and he was in a really good development. You don’t want to disturb that process. Now we have to step away from it but he will be back before the end of the season. What he has to do now is deal with that, deal with that setback and then work, invest, to get back before the end of the season. Because this season we can win a lot so he has to be ready to get back as soon as possible."

United name travelling squad


Find out which 21 players are on the plane for the flight to Seville, ahead of facing Real Betis.

With the schedule you’ve had to go through this season and the injuries you’re picking up now, do you think there will come a point in the season when you have to prioritise the Premier League over this competition?
"I think we can manage. We have players that can recover good between games. So we do that very carefully, and have contact with medical [staff], with performance [staff] on what a player can handle. Also we have a lot of positions where we have double [players] so we can mix it, so when we are going to the final stage of the season, we can bring our best team."

You’ve been here two thirds of the season at Manchester United and you’ve experienced the Premier League. How short do you think the team is of challenging for the title?
"I think we have made good progress. Also, we have to acknowledge there is still a gap. I couldn’t expect that we close that gap that quickly. What we want is we want to win every game, no matter which opponent. I think in all of the games you have seen till now, I think that was our approach. We tried to win every game. Also we have beaten all the top teams so we are capable to do it. So now we have to make the next step to do that more dominant, more consistent. So we have some steps to take. But we know, there is time, we can do it.”

Can you tell Manchester United fans that with another transfer window in the summer that next season, this is a club that will be challenging for the title?
"You see the competition. I also heard comments from other players and other managers in the Premier League. The Premier League was never as difficult as now, there are so many competitors. It is not a two-horse race. It’s five, six, seven-horse races so you have to be very good if you want to win that league. But we are aiming for that. What we want, so do six, seven more clubs. And they will invest and they will spend big money. And they have great managers, so they have great players. So it’s a lot about details in the end, you can win it. But as I said, we have beaten all the teams in the Premier League so we are capable to do it but we are aware of it at the club and also in the team. We are aware of it, we have some steps to go.”
You have several injuries at the moment, so do you have any concerns about the depth of the squad? Are you possibly one or two more injuries away from possibly being in a bit of a crisis because you also have Casemiro suspended now for four domestic games?
"When you see the whole season, we had some setbacks more, also some shortages of players more. But every time we dealt with it and it’s about the players who are available and every time there was a team on the pitch. But what is true is I think, till now, we had only one game when we had a squad available totally. One game where I could say, ‘okay now I can pick my team [only] for a tactical approach’ and that was perfect. It was against Man City at home. It was the only time in this season. At other times, in every game we had one player suspended, one player is injured, or has illness so we have to deal with it now. Of course, you hope it is like Arsenal. All the time, they have their squad in total available.”

When you lost to City, you went on a long unbeaten run. Can you see the team going on a similar run now to the end of the season because the team has always bounced back and shown a lot of character? Can you see the team potentially going unbeaten for the rest of the season?
"We have done it after Brentford, we have done it after City, so we are capable of it. But now we have to show it again and don’t think too far ahead. We have to think about game by game. That is the base of our success.”

You said you had spoken [to the Premier League] about the officiating. Did you speak to them after the Southampton game?
“I just commented on some decisions and it was clear about Casemiro, and it was the handball, it was the penalty situation with Rashford. It was a penalty situation probably with Bruno. There was the foul and a bad injury on Garnacho so there were wrong decisions, you can discuss it, but now it’s gone. Now we look forward to the next game, to tomorrow’s game and focus on that.”