Every word from Erik ten Hag's post-Forest press conference
Erik ten Hag had plenty of positives to discuss during his post-match press conference, following Manchester United’s 3-0 Carabao Cup semi-final first-leg victory over Nottingham Forest.
It was just not goalscorers Marcus Rashford and Wout Weghorst – who netted his first goal for the club on the night – whose names were on the lips of the ensembled journalists at The City Ground, but those of exciting wingers Antony and Facundo Pellistri, too.
There were also nods from the manager to our next test against Reading, in this weekend’s FA Cup tie, as well as the return leg against Forest back at Old Trafford in seven days’ time.
You can read every word from Erik’s post-match press conference below...
How happy were you with that after the Arsenal defeat?
"We are [happy] from a result perspective, we bounce back well, that is quite clear. I think the performance over 90 minutes was also okay, and it was only one moment in the game what could have changed the game and we have to work on that. It's a learning moment, in a way to develop a really good team. But I think, in the game, the first 20 minutes was all ours and I think we played really well on the ball. From the start, of course, a great goal, Rashy again, with the opening goal and then after, we create some good chances. But then we allow them almost to come back in the game and that can't happen. So, I think it is a learning moment, I think the second half was much better, much more calm, and I think that we never allowed them a counter. We created still ourselves more half-chances. To finish early on at 3-0, I think that is better, but I think 2-0 just before half-time was an important one. Because that brings calmness in the team. I think it was a great action from Antony and the rebound from Wout Weghorst, he is the striker and why we got him in."
You said you wanted Antony to be more direct and he was, how do you rate his performance?
"I think he played a really good game. And I think he was a threat, he was good in between the lines, and [played with] good physicality. He had also some good actions to [take on] the opponent. He had to score, it was a great combination and we want to see that more. The more combinations and more dynamic [play] in the front line, we are working on that part. That is the most difficult part, and I saw some good movements today and also I think in the last couple of games, and I'm happy with that."
That's 10 goals in 10 games for Marcus now. Do you see anybody in the country who is playing better than him at the moment?
"There are more players who are playing really well, but I am happy with Marcus and his performance and his development. From the start of the season, he is growing, and he keeps doing that, [that's what] we have to aim for with him, [but in the] first place, he is responsible for that, to keep the process going. If he is in this moment and this spirit, I think he is unstoppable and then it is about the team to get him in the right positions."
Have you given him [Rashford] the confidence to go on those solo runs?
"In possession we have a plan, but finally also the intuition, the creativity of the individual – like Rashy – is to create chances. So we have some of it, like Rashy, like Bruno [Fernandes], Antony definitely as well, Jadon Sancho is one, [Anthony] Martial is one, so we need these style of players; Christian Eriksen, don't forget him. Be creative and in the final third do something that no one expects. Some crazy stuff. We also give the team some fantasy and adventure."
Facundo Pellistri, what do you think he brings to your team when he plays?
"We have seen some physicality and he has some good movements and some good runs in behind. He has speed, so he has to bring that in our game. I think he is also a player who can play really good between the lines because he can be ball secure. That, he has to bring in our game. A little bit different, we have a left-footed right winger in Antony, and Facundo is right-footed and I think his best chance was – not our best chance – but a good chance he created was his cross for Wout Weghorst."
Is he [Pellistri] in consideration for Reading on Saturday?
"After today, I have something in my head, but I have to settle this game down and look into my plans and I have to look into Reading, and then we have to make a good plan to beat Reading."
A word on Wout Weghorst and his first goal for United...
"Yeah, but of course for strikers, it's always important [to score]. I think he did a great job in Crystal Palace and in Arsenal with pressing and targets, with movements, because I think the goal by Bruno in Crystal Palace, he was part of it because he makes the movement to the front post. The goal of Rashford in Arsenal, he was part of it because he made the space for Rashford by dragging the centre half away. But finally, strikers are there to score goals, and when they don't score, they are not happy. So, it's important for him, for his confidence as well, that he scores that goal, and I think this is the way, this is one of the ways he can score goals; by being in the box and being present."