Erik ten Hag

Every word from Erik's press conference

Sunday 03 March 2024 19:18

Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag believes the Reds had the opportunities to defeat Manchester City, as we fell to a 3-1 defeat at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday.

Despite Marcus Rashford's first-half stunner, the hosts struck back through a Phil Foden brace before Erling Haaland notched late on.

After the match, the boss spoke to the media and praised the way his team performed, explaining that we could have added a second goal and that there were fine margins between the sides.

Read every word from Erik's post-match press conference below...

Watch Ten Hag's press conference Video

Watch Ten Hag's press conference

Press conference | The boss fielded questions from journalists in his post-match media briefing at the Etihad Stadium...

You were in front early but you didn't have a lot of possession or many shots. Do you think you deserved to get anything out of the game?
"Football is not only about possession. Of course, you need the ball to score a goal and I think we scored a brilliant goal at the start and also after that. I think in the first 20 minutes we had some opportunities more. And also before if Garnacho passes the ball in that first moment to Rashford. It was another good opportunity. After it as well, Rashford had more and I think we defended brilliant out of possession and on defining moments we didn't have it on our side. Because I think at 1-1 Rashford was on another break and just before the 2-1 Garnacho was on a breakthrough. I think we were really close to win or at least get a draw here."

You were unhappy with the Kyle Walker tackle on Marcus just before City equalised. I don't know if you watched it back but do you think that was a foul?
"I will not say. It was a tackle from Kyle Walker. They both run but Rashy confirmed to me that there was contact. I watched it back and it was very soft but I understand that when you are in a full speed run and you get a little touch you are out of control. I think that is what happened."
With the injuries in your squad, with that style of play, of counter-attacking, how far away do you think United are from coming to the Etihad and playing proactive football?
"I think also proactive you can do it defending. For a long time in the game we were very proactive in defending. Protecting our box and keeping them away from opportunities and then go in the counter-attacks and then we had our moments. We know City is a very good team and very consistent in the way they play. They had their chances but we had our moments and could have scored the second goal."

Were the Marcus Rashford and Jonny Evans withdrawals due to injury?
"I had to take them both off. They fought to be part of this game but after 60, 70 minutes we had to take them off and it was not in our advantage at all. Jonny was playing in the backline brilliant and Rashy was a threat. Not only goalscoring but as I said already in this press conference, I think he had three or four moments when he could have scored. He scored one but could have scored even more."

Talking points from the Manchester derby


The Reds may have fallen short at the Etihad Stadium, but there were some positives to take for United.

You are 11 points behind Aston Villa now and six behind Spurs who have a game in hand. Do you think the top four is out of reach and your hopes of Champions League qualification hinge on England getting a fifth spot?
"We caught up from January and you have the same questions and we have the same questions. It can be a quick turnaround and we go into another final and try and get closer to them. It can be an advantage that the fifth spot can also be Champions League spot. So we have to go for it and win our games.

You've scored the same number of goals as Luton and only had one shot on target today. Is that becoming a problem for you?
"I don't think it is a good question today. As you see from January we scored many goals. I think we are really progressing on that side. Our frontline is absolutely a threat. We have to see that Rasmus Hojlund is getting back. But see Garnacho, Rashford and Bruno behind they are in good form and can score goals, will create chances. I think we can score more goals and we can score enough goals to win football games."
Fernandes: Our dressing room is disappointed Video

Fernandes: Our dressing room is disappointed

Bruno Fernandes has his say on United's display at City, and explains what he felt was the difference in the game...

You mentioned the injuries to Jonny Evans and Marcus Rashford. The injury list is becoming quite lengthy. Is the squad going to become a bit too stretched now between now and the end of the season to get near the top four?
"We are working on the players returning. I think players will return in the coming weeks, especially after the international break. Hopefully Jonny Evans and Marcus Rashford is not too bad and they recover and we can use them in the next game against Everton."

The position Bruno Fernandes played in today, did you like the way he played an is it an option for the rest of the season?
"I think he played very good in defending but also offensive wise, very smart. Dropping in the right moments but also running in behind like he did for the first goal. It can be an option."

Is this defeat a reminder of the gap between Manchester United and Manchester City, despite the first half?
"No I don't think so, absolutely not. We have many problems now in injuries and still we had an opportunity. By a very small margin. We could have scored the second goal. We could have scored the second goal in a debatable moment and in the second debatable moment. You see it is not that big. When we have everyone on board we can be really competitive and also we showed for instance in the cup final against them when it can be really close. But don't forget this, City is, at the moment the best team in the world."