Every word from Ten Hag’s press conference

Friday 22 July 2022 09:39

Erik ten Hag conducted his final pre-match press conference of Tour 2022 on Friday morning (UK time), ahead of our meeting with Aston Villa in Perth.

The Reds will face Steven Gerrard’s side at the Optus Stadium, looking to continue building towards the new campaign and maintain our 100 per cent record in pre-season. 

Prior to the match (10:45 BST kick-off), which you can watch live on MUTV, the boss met with the world’s press again to conduct his latest media duties.

During the session, which you can read and watch in full below, the boss was asked to preview the fixture, as well as fielding questions on Christian Eriksen and Lisandro Martinez, Cristiano Ronaldo’s return, the squad’s progress and more…

Erik, it's the last game of this part of pre-season, do you feel you have made the progress you wanted to? Are you further ahead than you thought you might be? Where are you?
"I think it's always difficult to answer such questions, in football how far you can be. In the end, you construct a team that's ready for the league start and I think I said it before that I know in the first half of the season, no team is playing the best but it's about getting the right constructions. But you also need results, so what we built in those weeks, we need a platform from where we can start and that's a good construction where we can get results."

Watch Erik's press conference from Perth Video

Watch Erik's press conference from Perth

The full video of Ten Hag's media briefing ahead of the Villa game is now available to view...

You said in your press conference in Bangkok, 'look, the midfield and attack were priority positions to strengthen in the transfer market'. Are the club any closer to any additions in those areas and how many more signings would you like before the transfer window closes?
"We signed Eriksen for the midfield department, so we are really happy with that. I am really happy with the performances from our midfield and our offensive department in this moment. I also know, this season, we talk about Bangkok, Melbourne as well, it's a lot of games, the World Cup, so we need more options. You have a good team, it's only about the team, you need a good squad to get the right results at the end of the season, so we have to strengthen the squad even more. So, we are looking around, but we need the right players."

What do you think of Perth?
"In this part, it's really nice and I think you feel the tourism is really great. I think a lot of tourists are willing to visit this incredible, nice city to stay here. What I always like from Australia, I smelt it in Melbourne, and I smell it here in Perth as well, that it's a sports culture. It's really important for this country, I think top sport but also in the part of socialising. I think the Aussies are really well connected with that, the attitude, the mentality. The minister of tourism and sport already talked about the game against Manchester United. They are famous about fighting back, that game it didn't happen, but I remember many occasions in sport history when Aussies did and that I really admire from them."

Some of the younger players perhaps haven't got as many minutes; [Alejandro] Garnacho, players like that. Are you going to give them a run out tomorrow? Also, we haven't spoken to you since Melbourne. Were you impressed with Harry Maguire and the way he reacted to the negative reception from the crowd at the start of the match?

"We have a squad here and as you know, we don't have a lot of time. We have to be ready for 7 August, the squad which are here is divided in generations. We have experience players in [the tour squad], but we also wanted to give some young talents the chance to show why they deserve to be here. Of course, I cannot give all young players the chances that they maybe deserve because we have to construct a team. But it's good to have them in. I see them daily in training, so I get a good impression from them, and from there on we can develop them by good plans. That is the idea, so not all the youngsters will get minutes. I have to set priorities and, in the future, they will play an important role in my thinking for building Manchester United. The other question you had about Maguire... we heard. But if you see, if you perform, then it slows down. I think the team and Harry Maguire impressed me by the way they play and then it quits."
Can I ask you about Fred, the type of player you think he is, what his strengths are, playing in various systems that you like to use?
"In the moment, he is playing in the role of connector, defending to offence. I think he is playing that role quite well, so I'm satisfied with performance, with his improvement until now and I think he can even be better, and I will support him with that. He brings energy in the team by his attitude."

You've shown a lot of support for Harry, kept him as captain, spoke well about him. Can you understand the negative reaction he gets even over here? We've seen it at home, in an England game, but it's happening over here as well - do you understand it?
"I don't think it's a matter to find out if I can understand it, it's about how we can change it, the team and by Harry himself performing. That's what we're working on and that's the only focus."

The start of the season is just around the corner, from the opening three matches, would you take seven points now? Would that be a good return?
"I don't think so far. I think always on the first game. The first game is the most important one and we want to win every game, so the first win the first game."

We've seen Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho, Bruno Fernandes and Anthony Martial combine as a front four, training together - is that in your mind for the opening game of the season, bearing in mind you're talking about getting close together? Or does Cristiano Ronaldo's return come into consideration for that?
"It can be. You see they connect really good together and I think when you see that, you are lucky as a manager. The team is lucky. We have a threat, we have weapons. We have to improve that every day and develop that further."

Erik hails quartet of attacking "weapons"


Find out what Erik ten Hag had to say when he was asked about his forward options on tour.

When Louis van Gaal came away on his first tour, he was quite critical of the travel, the commercial side of things that has to go around these tours. Just in terms how you prepare your players for a new season, how you've found that, have you found that you've been able to focus on football and that has everything else just been sidelined a little bit?
"I think it's part of nowadays' football, you have to accept it as a manager, as a team and you have to get the best out of it and that is what we did. I think it's great for the team spirit that you are together for so long, so you can really develop that. You have a lot of time to work on your team because you are so close together. It is great I would say to have that experience. Also, to come in nice cities like Bangkok, Melbourne, Perth, it's not every day you're coming in. There's also disadvantages, it's clear, but as a professional you have to deal with certain things that are decided where you don't have influence. But where you have influence is on your game and that's our focus point."

This game's been sold out pretty much since it's been announced, what sort of show can Perth fans look forward to tomorrow night?
"Show, eh? We have an intention to play brilliant football, only one thing, we have an opponent every time and they don't cooperate! First, it's about, in our philosophy, we want to play attacking football, proactive football and I know the opponent tomorrow is a really tough opponent so it's a great test. In that sense, Perth is really lucky."

Are you any clearer to when Cristiano Ronaldo will be in pre-season with Manchester United, do you have an update on that?
"No, it's the same as last week."

Are you not concerned with the longer he stays away, the less time he has to be fit for the start of the season?
"Of course. Maybe concerning is not the right word, I focus on the players who are there, and they are doing really well, they are in good shape. I have further focus on developing that and I cannot wait to see him coming in and then we will integrate him."

Extended open training highlights: Perth Video

Extended open training highlights: Perth

Watch our full show from the WACA in Perth, as Ten Hag's squad train in front of fans and media...

You brought a lot of Academy players on this tour, do you think they will be able to help you and be up to Premier League standard?
"We have to wait if that's the case. I think they need some development and we're working day by day on that but that will not come overnight. That will take time, patience. But if they show they can have an impact, I am the manager who will throw them in."

Are you at all concerned by your shortage of options in attack going into the new season? You appear to be maybe one injury away from trouble in those positions...
"That is a reason but also the number of games. You need more options in offence, that is clear."

For you, is it vital you add in that department before August 31?
"I think it's vital if you want to get success, the season is really long but we also have time to still fill that in."

One signing here training with you so far, does it make your job more difficult not having the players you want here on tour training with you now? Considering the likes of City, Spurs have all their signings in place and on tour training with them now...
"It's definitely an advantage, I would have, I would have been in that situation but we're not and you have to deal with the situation and then you develop the team with the players you have, and I think we do. Back in Manchester, Eriksen, Martinez will join in and then we have more options and I think they can quite quickly integrate in the team."

Martinez and Eriksen will be joining yourself in Oslo, Norway, as part of the tour?
"We'll set conclusions when we are back in Manchester, then we have some days to train, and we'll make our choices."

Erik's view on Garner and Hannibal


Ten Hag was asked about his plans for the young midfield pair in Friday's press conference.

Just in regards to Hannibal Mejbri and James Garner, we haven't really got to see much of them on this pre-season tour, I know James Garner was injured, what are your plans for them, for the coming season? I know we've had similar questions, but will James Garner go on loan, will he be part of the first team? And a similar question for Hannibal...
"James Garner just integrated in training this week so I haven't seen him, I don't have a full impression from, so I want to see more and then we will make conclusions and decisions. Hannibal, he plays some minutes now, I think he did quite well, in training as well, he makes quite a good impression but it's also to do with the balance in the squad."

What have you made of the maturity from young players, we see them on the pitch, shouting to each other, we’ve seen the way they’re carrying themselves, there seems to be a real maturity from the players...
"I think they do well, but I also know the standards in the Premier League, European football are really high. It's always about ‘are they ready to take the responsibility, to play, to contribute, are they conscious of those situations?’ That is what I have to approve and then I will take my decisions. They have potential some of them, it's quite clear."