Every word from Ten Hag's press conference

Thursday 29 February 2024 14:35

Erik ten Hag has been speaking to the media ahead of Sunday's Premier League trip to local rivals Manchester City.

The boss conducted his pre-match press conference on Thursday afternoon at Carrington, with the derby on the horizon.

Less than 24 hours after our dramatic FA Cup fifth-round victory over Nottingham Forest - sealed by Casemiro's last-gasp header - Erik was quizzed on Bruno Fernandes, Fulham's social media post after Saturday's win at Old Trafford, and more.

You can read the full transcript of his media briefing, and watch it, below...

Part one: Press conference v Man City Video

Part one: Press conference v Man City

Press conference | Erik ten Hag previews the Manchester derby and praises Bruno Fernandes's leadership...

Erik, is anyone who didn't feature tonight coming back for this weekend? And are Bruno and Varane alright after being doubtful for Forest?
"They fought to be part [of it] and they came well out of the game. I think they will be available for Sunday as well. And for the rest, I don't think players will return for Sunday, so we do it with the squad from yesterday [at Nottingham Forest]."

Casemiro's goal and celebrations showed his winning mentality. Is that mentality important for Sunday? How important is he?
"Yeah but that passion, desire, determination, that is the base. But definitely when you go into the game on Sunday."

When you look at the two squads at the moment and players available, you have had a lot of injuries and you look at the form City are in at the moment. How can you convince your players they can go to City and get a result?
"Our form. We are also in a good run. This period is very good, we are united. We are in togetherness and make a good gameplan. We have done [well] before against City and also lately against Liverpool, so we will prepare well. The players are ready for it and looking forward to it. I can smell it. I am around here and speak with the players, so we are really looking forward and excited."
When you look at the City team, do you fear what they have got?
"They have a good team but there are more good teams. They have won in the last season, so this last year, everything, but we know and that is the challenge. But also Liverpool is a very good team and there are more good teams. We like the challenge and we are looking forward to challenge with them."

Sir Jim Ratcliffe spoke last week about wanting to knock City off their perch. Is this an opportunity for your team to make a statement and show you are not as far away as some people think?
"I think that has nothing to do with each other. But we want to win every game. That is always our mentality and our approach in every game. It doesn't matter who is the opponent. But, as I say, you always want to play against the best. So, most of the time we feel, and you can also see it, the opposition get the best outputs against Manchester United. Maybe this game is the other way around but we know we have to give everything and show a team performance, if we want to get the result. But if you do it, it is possible. That is also what the opposition shows in this moment against Manchester City."

What have you learnt from previous matches against Manchester City?
"We did it in several ways, many ways, and been successful. So, from all the games, we look back. We had the opportunity to win one time and you need a great day. That is also what we know, so the players have to give the best performances."
90 in 20: Nottingham Forest v United Video

90 in 20: Nottingham Forest v United

You'll want to watch the extended highlights of our FA Cup fifth-round tie all the way to the end...

You were passionate last night in your defence of Bruno Fernandes and your claims that he had been targeted. Do you feel he gets enough protection from match officials?
"So he is a very passionate football player and he is a very creative football player. He is creating the most chances in the Premier League. You see opponents are targeting him and, especially after Saturday, when he had a knock and they see it, then I feel the refereeing should protect him. They had the chance already in the start of the game because it was obvious they were looking for him."

Do you think he has developed unwittingly maybe a reputation for going down too easily, and sometimes referees can be influenced by that?
"That is your impression."

I am asking you what you think...
"No, that is your impression. I thought it was definitely, on Saturday, a foul and it was really misjudged from media, from social media to blame him for that. Then opponents, they are targeting him and that is not right because then the referee should protect him and there were fouls on him, even after the ball was kicked away."

In that regard, did it not help that Fulham sent out that video on their own TikTok site saying a derogatory comment about Bruno? Has that helped to fuel the situation and not help him?
"I didn't know this but if they did it, I would say it is not right. It's absolutely not right that a club makes such statements because it is totally out of order and they were wrong. So they should apologise for this."

Ten Hag's appreciation for Bruno and Rapha


The manager believes the experienced pair showed the warrior spirit in playing against Forest.

Just in terms of his determination and professionalism, how does he [Bruno Fernandes] rank in terms of those you have worked with in football?
"Highly. Very highly. First of all, his football skills. He is so creative in that final third, creating chances. Absolutely, [he is a] key player in that final third and then also his output and contribution for defending jobs and then leading, reading a situation, reading the press but also being the example, by running and running in the right moments. Pointing to players around him. He is absolutely a leader by example."

If you look at the Premier League, is this a defining weekend to know exactly where you are going to be come the end of the season?
"No. Because there are many more games to play. We are in the FA Cup, in a great game. After City, there are coming many more games and we know we have to catch up but, after that, is coming more games to catch up and to get in the right position."