Every word from Erik's pre-Newcastle press conference

Friday 14 October 2022 13:30

Erik ten Hag briefed the media ahead of Manchester United's game with Newcastle United on Sunday, as our busy October schedule continues.

Erik held his pre-match press conference on Thursday evening, after the Reds had defeated Omonia Nicosia in the Europa League, courtesy of an injury-time winner from Scott McTominay.

United enter Sunday's fixture looking to record consecutive league victories, following the win on the road at Everton last weekend, and Ten Hag is looking forward to locking horns with Eddie Howe on the touchline in just two days' time.

Ahead of the fixture, which pits the Reds against a side just one place below us in the table, the Dutchman fielded questions about Marcus Rashford, potential midfield combinations and more.

You can read every word from Erik's media briefing below...

Ten Hag's pre-Newcastle press conference Video

Ten Hag's pre-Newcastle press conference

Press conference | Ahead of Sunday's Newcastle game, Erik discussed attacking freedom, midfield combinations and more...

Hi Erik, I think the top scorers at the moment have three goals: Antony and Marcus. Are you confident that you have strikers or goalscorers who will score 20 goals this season?
“Yes I am confident. In my teams there are players who will score. They come in the position and in the last part it’s also about the freedom from the player. The intuition, the space they have to take and when they have that feeling you will have players who when they have the talent, when they have the potential, they will score that number of goals. I think we have in our squad, we have the players who can score that number of goals. But they get also divided because we have many goalscorers across the whole department, but I think you need also something from the midfield and defending department.”

You’ve got a really important week now in the Premier League, with three matches back-to-back against tough rivals. What difference does Scott’s goal make to that week?
“I go always from game to game, and it gives another impetus on the team to believe I think. The spirit is already good but it will give a push in that spirit again and it will help the belief in the squad. But for the rest, we have to go game to game, and we’re going to be against tough opponents but we are really looking forward. They are really [good] tests for us as a squad to go in the battles and it delivers energy.”
How highly do you rate Newcastle?
“They do really well. I think it’s a team that can play in high intensity with a lot of energy so that makes it a tough opponent and we know we have to play our best to get the right result.”

We’ve seen a couple of midfield combinations, such as Casemiro and Fred, McTominay. Do you know what your strongest midfield pairing is?
“Difficult to say in this moment, when they have to play longer together, but what’s important once again is that you need a squad. I think Fred played a good game tonight and he [did] really well in the counter-press; he wins a lot of balls. Unluckily, he didn’t score the goal. It was a really good move from him and he received the chipped ball, and [didn't score] the header. That’s the kind of impact he has to give to the team. But I think we have some combinations and in the midfield it’s always about balance. So I am happy with all four and I hope they keep going in this way.”
90 in 20: United v Omonia Nicosia Video

90 in 20: United v Omonia Nicosia

90 in 20 | The extended highlights of our home match against Omonia are now available internationally....

Marcus Rashford could have maybe scored four goals tonight. What can you say to him about his performance?
“He did a lot of things well, but finally, he knows that he has to be more clinical and he has to score a goal. When you have such good movements, when you have such good combinations, you have such good actions, then you have to finish. But I know sometimes it’s the game, it’s not your night, it’s the form of the day. But it can change to another game, because I think he is on a really good run and that proves the chances he creates. Now, in [the last] two games he’s a little bit unlucky. On Sunday he deserves a goal that they cancelled, and today he didn’t score and maybe it was maybe more by himself. So what I say is save it for the coming week.”

Can we check on team news for Sunday, especially Maguire and Martial?
“Anthony Martial can be [fit] but we have to wait how it develops in the coming hours. Harry Maguire will not make this, but it doesn’t take long, I think.”

Will it be another couple of weeks for Harry?
“No, no, no. I think that next week he will be back in the team training or over next week.”
Ten Hag's verdict on United v Omonia Video

Ten Hag's verdict on United v Omonia

Watch our post-match interview with the manager for his take on the action at Old Trafford...

Erik, can I ask about Antony? He scored in his first three Premier League matches since joining, but it feels like there’s more to come from him. What can United fans expect from him?
“Development. I think we have seen a few now from his dribble capabilities, his speed. His finishing, also his creating, but now also he has to work on more variation. He is a player who can adapt quickly to a high level and is a player who likes challenges, and he needs the challenges. Every training for him is a challenge, every game is a challenge, and that will make the best out of him and he likes that. So I think there is really a lot of space for improvement with him, but I think he’s already at a really good level when you are the first player who scored in three in a row, three goals for Manchester United in all history. That already shows his potential.”

The next three games are against the top-six teams in the league. Have the FA given you an idea of when there will be an outcome on Cristiano Ronaldo’s charge and whether he will be available for those games?
“No, I don’t know when the defence, when it will be. So we don’t have a timeline.”