Every word from Erik's pre-Real Sociedad press conference

Wednesday 07 September 2022 12:50

Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag spoke to the media on Wednesday afternoon ahead of his side's 2022/23 Europa League opener against Real Sociedad, which is due to take place at Old Trafford on Thursday evening.

The Spanish side are our first opponents in Group E, as our European campaign gets under way at 20:00 BST at the Theatre of Dreams.

As United look to emulate our 2016/17 run, which culminated in the Reds lifting the trophy, Ten Hag previewed Thursday's fixture from Carrington.

The boss fielded questions on United's ambitions in the competition, the form of Marcus Rashford, squad rotation, and more.

As the countdown to kick-off continues, read every single word of the Dutchman's briefing below...

Watch Ten Hag and Dalot's press conference Video

Watch Ten Hag and Dalot's press conference

Press conference | See how Erik ten Hag and Diogo Dalot addressed reporters ahead of the Real Sociedad match...

Regarding team news, is Anthony Martial still out?
"Yes, he is still out. He is progressing but he is not ready to get back into team training or in a game."

Comments were made by Eric Bailly about English players being selected more often. In your analysis of last season was that the case?
"I cannot [comment]. I have nothing to say about that because it was last season. I wasn't in charge so I don't know the situation."

But nationality would never come into your thinking regarding selections?
"Not for me."
Erik, is this a tournament that you see as able to rotate your players, given the hectic schedule you have?
"We have to win every game, and we want to win every tournament, so we have to take everything serious. We not only have a team, we have a squad, that's clear. But we have to win every game. That is the mentality that Manchester United needs."

You have a squad, when you look at the substitutes' bench, you have players itching to start. You've got to try to keep them all happy?
"Maybe I cannot keep them all happy every game but everyone gets their game-time if they perform well, it's quite clear. But what I say, we need everyone - we have a lot of games to cover. There is a lot coming in front of us, and the national teams of course - the World Cup - but also all of the cups in England. The Europa League where we are now getting in and, of course, the Premier League."

The Premier League can be a hard place to be. Can I ask you for your reaction to Thomas Tuchel's sacking?
"Of course, I feel sorry, but there's nothing to say about this. It's Chelsea, not Manchester United."

Are you surprised?
"It's early in the season, yeah."
Erik, if I could just ask you: You chose Scott McTominay again at the weekend. Is that a sign that no matter how much you cost and how big a name you are, if you perform well for you, you stay in the team?
"You can see it like that. When a team is acting well, when players are acting well, I think we have more than 11 starting XI players and then you stay in that's clear. The team is improving, it's getting better, but, on the other hand, for players who are not now in the team, we know they can, at any moment, they can come in and they will do the job. And they can maybe even do it better than the players who are in but you'll never know. I know that you need more than 11 players to get successful and I know we have a really good bench in this moment and also, when they come on, they really contribute to the success we have now. That is also what we expect but I know also that the players on the bench, they will have their games as a starting-XI player."

Marcus Rashford looks reborn this season. What's changed for him in your opinion? What have you said to him?
"Once again, it is difficult for me to talk about the past. but what I see - I see a happy Marcus Rashford and I see some phases in his game that we could improve. And we worked really hard in the last two-and-a-half months with him on different aspects. He likes it and he wants to transfer it to the pitch, and that is what you see in this moment. It started with happiness. He is coming here every day, he really enjoys it, he's really smiling. He has a really positive vibe and, if you put all of those things together with the way of play and you want to transfer and improve different aspects of your game and you are happy, you will have more contribution to the team, to the performance, to the result, and also to your development."
Ten times Rashy showed his quality Video

Ten times Rashy showed his quality

Watch 10 moments of quality from Marcus Rashford across our four consecutive wins...

Is Cristiano [Ronaldo] ready to start now?
"He started the game against Brentford."

But then not since...
"But then not since, but he is ready to start, yeah."

Given his age and your demands on that position, is it possible for him to be a starting centre-forward for the majority of the season?
"Of course."

I think Marcus is out of contract at the end of the season. Would you like to tie him down for the future?

And are talks ongoing?
"I don't think he is out of contract, I think United control the situation."