Every word: Part one of Erik’s pre-West Ham press conference

Tuesday 28 February 2023 12:50

Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag is firmly focused on Wednesday’s Emirates FA Cup fifth round tie against West Ham, which will be three days on from our Carabao Cup final triumph at Wembley.

Speaking in the first part of his pre-match press conference, to preview Wednesday’s cup fixture at Old Trafford (KO 19:45 GMT), Erik made clear that he isn’t looking back at Sunday’s win over Newcastle, or ahead to the weekend’s Premier League trip to play Liverpool. 

His, and everyone’s, concentration is on our next outing. Ahead of it, he answered questions from reporters on the upcoming assignment, Antony Martial’s fitness, Harry Maguire and more, as you can see below in part one of his latest media briefing...

Part one: Ten Hag’s West Ham press conference Video

Part one: Ten Hag’s West Ham press conference

Press conference part one | Erik’s winning mentality is clear to see in his Emirates FA Cup fifth-round preview…

Hi Erik, congratulations for Sunday, you've obviously got a busy schedule coming up, have you had any chance to celebrate? Any chance to take stock, beyond what we saw at Wembley?
"No, nothing beyond. [We] get back to work."

You've changed the culture of the group, from the way they speak and the way they seem to be leaders on the field - has it actually been quite easy to get them to refocus? Because this hasn't been something they've done, they've not won a trophy for six years, but they seem to be just getting on and back into it...
"Of course, yesterday, the players were still enthusiastic, and they had to celebrate this momentum, but yesterday, after we settled down, we get back to work. What we had to do was recovery and the ones who played less did a good training session."
The team that started on Sunday obviously started, but the ones who didn't, people like Maguire and Lindelof, are they going to be important in periods like this? Because clearly there was a lot of energy expended against Barcelona, against Newcastle, but this is a big game as well and you do want to keep the momentum going...
"Let's make myself clear, we didn't win with 11 players, we did win with a squad, and I think the squad is already, the whole season, so important. Every time players are coming in [to play], if it's for the whole game, for minutes or a couple of games, I think also during games we can change the dynamics. We do it with many more than 11 players, so I count on them, and I know they will be ready because every time players play games, they take responsibility and it's about that. Take responsibility, but also you have to fight for your position. We have great months ahead of us, also great games and I think everyone wants to play games. The players who form the best teams will play. Also, for Maguire, when he plays well, he can come into the team."

It does feel like Maguire, because he's an England international and the captain of the team, people like myself focus on him, but it does seem as though he was part of the celebration and it feels as though there's a collective spirit within the group rather than just individuals looking at it and thinking: 'I'm not playing, I'm not happy'...
"It was not my perspective from the celebrations, I think everyone was involved and everyone was happy. Everyone had the idea, we did it collectively and not individual or one, two, three players did this. It was the performance of the whole team, of the whole squad."

Ten Hag reveals team news


The boss identifies a couple of doubts for the Emirates FA Cup fifth-round tie with West Ham.

It does seem like this is the start of a new era at Manchester United, we spoke to Luke Shaw yesterday and he was very praiseworthy of the work ethic and the discipline you've instilled and the reaction following those opening two game defeats, when you look back now, how important was that in your role at the football club?
"I know from previous jobs that it takes time before you get into a way of play, before you get into the rules and principles. You get routines in a team and time is not always going with the right results. The results were not there at the start of the season, I didn't panic because I know it's part of the process and you can find out, you learn a lot in those weeks. When you lose, it's not nice. You hate to lose, also you get some good lessons and a lot of view [on] what are the opportunities, what are the deficits, so you can work on that and your way of play."

It's a really big week - they're all big weeks it seems at the moment - how difficult is it for you not to have an eye on Liverpool on Sunday? Because for the fans, this is the biggest game of the season, going to Anfield where you've not won for seven years, it probably links to the question earlier about other players in the squad...
"But I think every game is important and every game until now, this dressing room has the right attitude and the right approach they take, game by game. Not looking ahead. You said it's the biggest game, but Barcelona is it not a big game?!"

Every game gets bigger...

Ten Hag's bullish message to the squad


“The players who form the best teams will play,” says the boss before another hectic month of fixtures.

I wanted to ask about team news, the players are obviously mentally ready by the sounds of things but how are they physically? But will Anthony Martial be ready for tomorrow? And if not, when can we expect to see him?
"Anthony Martial is not available and Luke Shaw and Fred are questions for tomorrow."