What Ten Hag told the media in Spain

Wednesday 02 November 2022 20:00

Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag answered questions on topics including David De Gea's footwork, Cristiano Ronaldo's mindset and the attributes of the player sat alongside him, Casemiro, during the club's pre-match press conference in San Sebastian.

The media briefing was held not long after Ten Hag and his squad landed in Spain for our final Europa League Group E game against Real Sociedad, and the importance of claiming pole position was also discussed once again as both teams seek to avoid a two-legged play-off in February - the forfeit for finishing second.

Erik's first answer provided the reasons why Jadon Sancho and Anthony Martial were not on the flight from Manchester.

"Jadon Sancho was ill and Anthony Martial is still in recovery. He is in rehab, he has to finish that. He did train this morning so we're going in the right direction."

Below you can watch the press conference and read everything else Erik said...

Ten Hag and Casemiro's press conference Video

Ten Hag and Casemiro's press conference

Press conference | See what Erik ten Hag and Casemiro said to the European media in Spain...

Erik, given how congested the fixtures will get because of the World Cup, how big is it for you to top the group and miss the next round, miss two games?
"Obviously it's important. We can win tomorrow night. We know what to do. We have to win with two goals difference. But finally if you want to win the trophy, you have to win all the games, so we have to beat every one."

What has changed in your team from the team that we saw in the game that Real Sociedad won at Old Trafford? And does it matter that, because Real Sociedad won 1-0, you have to win by two goals?
"It's six weeks ago or so and it's a different team. Not all of the players who were on the pitch [then] are with us. I think we've been growing in the last games, we develop, we make some good progress so we are confident. We know it's difficult to win games here. But we like the challenge and we know we have to win with two goals difference. So we have a plan for that and we'll do everything to get that done."
Do you think Real Sociedad will be less proactive because they don't have to win the game?
"I think their coach likes proactive football. Their coach has a philosophy I like, they want to play, and I think they will stick to that. We have to read, if he has a different approach, then we have to adapt as well. But we know what to do."

Erik, are these the sort of games you will learn most about your team, how far they have come since you took over? It's a knockout game in effect and you have said you want to win trophies...
"How far you have come, I don't think you speak in autumn about how far you come. You can't win anything in this moment in the season. It's like Casimero says, it's game by game and we have to win every game."

Erik, when you look at the quality of the clubs coming down from the Champions League, if you can't finish top of this group, it could prove fatal to your hopes of going further?
"It's clear you face a heavy opponent. But we like those challenges. So for us it does not affect and as I said, if you want to win the trophy, you have to beat them all."

Ten Hag confirms team news


The boss discusses his options for the clash against Real Sociedad.

How long can Diogo Dalot keep playing at his current level and would a right-back be a priority for you in the January transfer window?
"I hope he keeps progressing, so not only sticking to this level. Our approach, our philosophy is that good is not good enough. We have to do better. We're happy with the development and the performances of Diogo so it's quite clear. But I know that every club in the top elite clubs need competition and I think we can replace him, with Victor Lindelof, with Tyrell Malacia and luckily also Aaron Wan-Bissaka is back in the squad. So we have replacements but it's clear, it's heavy when you have to play every game but physically he's got a really good profile and I'm sure he will keep going and he will keep developing. That is what we demand and I am confident he will do that."

I'd like to ask you about Cristiano Ronaldo. How does he feel now that he is playing from the start again? Do you think he feels more comfortable and what can he bring on the pitch tomorrow?
"First of all, to talk about his feelings, you have to ask him, not me. But he is really professional, he's in the group, he's an important part of this group. He's a leader type and as you know in Spain, he's a threat to every defence and you always have to keep an eye on him because every gap he will use."

Why Ten Hag loved his first chat with Casemiro


The manager has provided a fascinating recount of their conversation following August's transfer from Real Madrid.

How important is it to have a player like Casemiro, with so much experience and having won so much, in your rebuild of Manchester United?
"I said it the other day. For me he is the cement between the stones, in and out of possession. You see him growing from game to game and with that, also, our team is growing. So we are really happy with the progress but also we have to keep that process going because we are not satisfied. We have to approach it like 'good is not good enough'. Tomorrow we have another challenge and another test to do it better."

Also in the past, Manchester United have bought players who have achieved things elsewhere - and haven't achieved for United. What did you see in Casemiro that made you think he still has the hunger?
"He told me when we had the first talk that he needs a new challenge because in Real Madrid he won everything. He was a big part of Real Madrid still, they didn't want him to go. But he had a feeling, he told me, that 'I have to go to another club, to another league, to prove myself' and that shows his hunger. I really liked that and from the first day on, he has been coming with that attitude to every training, to every match, and he proves it. I really like it and, like I say, he will be more and more important to our team."

United announce travelling squad for Spain


Find out which Reds are flying to San Sebastian for the key game against Real Sociedad.

Erik, I wanted to ask you about David De Gea. We have seen him sweeping and his distribution is improving. Is that something you are asking him to improve and do you think he can continue to improve at that, at this stage of his career? Or do you see it as a situation of he is still making fantastic match-winning saves and you are not too fussed about how he is with his feet? What is the focus for you?
"The focus for me, the main part of the goalkeeper, is always the clean sheet, protect his goal, that's the main part. But nowadays in football, it's also important he can do something with his feet. There was maybe in the past a different style for him. But from the first day I was here, but also before, I saw some video content and you see David is capable to do it. When I see David playing our possession game, he is very composed. He is very good in boxes so it's no problem for David to do that. He proved in the last games in that aspect he will grow and grow. And the other part, what is the most important, keep doing that, keep progressing and keep more clean sheets."