Every word from Erik's press conference

Wednesday 12 April 2023 12:30

Erik ten Hag was in positive mood on Wednesday, as the Manchester United manager welcomed journalists to Carrington ahead of Thursday's Europa League quarter-final first leg.

The Dutchman was joined by David De Gea and fielded questions about the fitness of Marcus Rashford, Luke Shaw and Alejandro Garnacho, while also discussing the form of Antony and the return of Christian Eriksen.

He also spoke about the pedigree of Thursday's opponents, with Sevilla's six Europa League titles being three more than any other side in the competition's history.

All of these topics and more featured in Erik's responses during the pre-match media briefing. Watch the full press conference and read Erik's answers below...

Ten Hag and De Gea's press conference Video

Ten Hag and De Gea's press conference

Press conference | See how Erik ten Hag and David De Gea answered questions from the media ahead of matchday...

Erik, we've seen the club statement on Marcus Rashford. Does that mean he'll potentially be back for the FA Cup semi-final? What's the timeframe and what's the injury?
"A few games. So that's the statement. So I can't give more details of it because we don't know it. We have to see how it develops, the injury."

What about other injuries - is there any chance Shaw and Garnacho will be available for tomorrow?
"No, both are not available."

[Are they out for] a few games?
"Definitely the injury of Garnacho is more severe. It's more strong but Luke Shaw, I expect him back at short notice, yes."
You've waited a long time for Anthony Martial to come back. Is there a concern now with Marcus out, you need to rely on him more than you would have wanted, given he's been out for so long with injury?
"No, we don't have to force things. But we were careful of course. I have to say that the frontline against Brentford and Everton worked really well. I think continually we were a threat. It was difficult for the opponent to defend."

Is Anthony Martial in contention to start tomorrow night?
"I think he is ready, yeah, to start a game but as I said the frontline against Brentford did really well and we decided to continue with that against Everton and again they did very well. The advantage was also that we can bring Anthony Martial back slowly in the team, give him minutes, get him used to game at the highest level, to a higher intensity. But I think already against Everton he was ready to start the game."

With Christian Eriksen coming back, I know you spoke when he was injured about his importance to the team. How much more dangerous are you as a side with Christian Eriksen in it?
"I think the balance in the midfield was [for] a long time very good with Casemiro, Christian Eriksen and Bruno [Fernandes]. And Christian alongside Casemiro, I think the co-operation between the two of them was very good. Casemiro, the balance player, the link-up player, and then Christian can support him in the link-up but also go to the final part of the game as he creates chances, key actions, key passes, final passes. For us, he was a really important player. I think he had seven or eight assists in the Premier League. I think that tells the story of how important he is for our front players because he sees the pass and he gives the pass."

An update on Rashford's injury


The club provides an official diagnosis on Marcus after he was forced off against Everton.

Erik, you've always defended Anthony Martial when he's constantly in and out [of the team]. Isn't this the time for him to really step up?
"You say I defended him, yeah, but I just point to the stats. The stats are telling you that the moment he is on the pitch, the time he needs for a goal is really less [than other players]. When he is in the team, I refer to games against Man City and Liverpool, when he is in the team we play our best football and we have the best results as a team. So yeah, if you can say I defended him, I am just pointing to the stats and I see how he contributes to this team."

You talked about the team defending. Is that a big part of it this season, and is Harry Maguire in contention to start against Sevilla?
"I think he isin contention for every game because he is a very good player and we have also seen on Saturday how good he is in the team. He was doing well so he is always in contention, but we have more [players]. I think I am happy with how my team is defending. I think we are defending with 11 and we have a great goalie and that gives us and brings us so many clean sheets and we are happy with that. But we have to do it every game. We know that. We have to keep the discipline, in a defensive transition especially and in defending the set plays. I think we are making good progress but we have to keep that progress and the process going because we are not satisfied. We want to do more and we know [that] if you want to win leagues, if you want to win competitions, clean sheets is always the base of it."

I wanted to ask about the development of Marcel Sabitzer. Could he possibly be a long-term United player?
"He is doing fantastic so he is really well adjusted to Manchester United, to the Premier League and, as a person, he is a great person. He really suits our dressing room well and in our game. He is an intelligent player and we are happy with the role he takes in this moment."

Rashford still optimistic, Martial ready to start


Erik ten Hag reveals how Marcus has reacted to his injury setback and backs Anthony Martial to make an impact.

You spoke about Eriksen before and we have seen McTominay and Sabitzer coming in. Is that for Christian as well or will it push Bruno forward again?
"We want to play dynamic, we want to surprise opponents. It is difficult to read our game and we, as I just remarked, we are defending with 11 players and I want my team to attack with 11 players. That is what we have to give, and without giving away big chances and big moments in the defending transition. We are working on our game every day and in every game. We have to improve every game."

I know that Sevilla are not having the best season so far in La Liga but like Real Madrid in the Champions League, Sevilla are the kings of the Europa League. What are you expecting of them tomorrow?
"Your question already tells the answer, because they have a big reputation winning the Europa League. They have won the Europa League more than all clubs in Europe. That's a magnificent record so we have to be aware of it because that's their target. We are 100 per cent motivated to go again. If we want to beat them, we have to play our best football and everyone has to deliver their best performance and if you don't do it, we have a problem. We are fully focused and fully prepared for this game."

How to watch and follow United v Sevilla


Everything you need to know ahead of Thursday's Europa League quarter-final first leg at Old Trafford.

I wanted to ask about Antony. I thought he played well against Everton but he still hasn't scored since October and he has no Premier League assists. Did you expect more from him, given how much he cost and what is he doing about trying to improve his goal tally?
"Of course, we expect from frontline players [that] they are not only a threat but also that they have an effect in the final third. He has to work on that of course but he's a young player and I think when you see his record - you mentioned - he is not scoring in the Premier League but he did score against Real Betis, a really important goal straight after half-time. He did score against Barcelona, the winner. You can't say these are not big games. He did also score in cup games and if you can do it in such games you can also do it in Premier League games, so I don't have a concern about that. But like many more players from us, we have to step up and he has to step up as well. We have to win games together. My experience with him is he is a fighter, he likes challenges and with him in the team, teams are winning. That is why I think he is in the Selecao. That is also why he is selected in the Selecao to play in the starting XI. He is still a very young player but he can kill opponents. We have seen it on Saturday, when the manager from Everton after half-time brings on another player because he is killing the left full-back. He is able to do it but also for him it counts. You have to do it every game because he is capable of doing it."

Just coming back to Marcus. How has he taken the news that he will be out for a while and what can you do to keep his spirits up this season?
"Of course it is a setback and he is disappointed about it but he is not totally broken because he knows he will return quickly. He is optimistic and he has started straightaway on his recovery and his rehab. That helps him to get back soon."