Every word from Erik's pre-Wolves press conference

Friday 11 August 2023 13:30

Erik ten Hag says that he and his staff are "happy with the squad we have now" as Manchester United approach the beginning of a new campaign.

The boss conducted his first press conference of the 2023/24 Premier League season at Carrington on Friday afternoon, in preparation for United's opener against Wolves at Old Trafford on Monday.

Journalists asked the Dutchman a series of questions, with topics ranging from new striker Rasmus Hojlund to Tottenham forward Harry Kane, who is reportedly on his way to Bayern Munich.

The boss also offered an update on the likes of Kobbie Mainoo, Amad and Tyrell Malacia, who are currently out injured for United.

You can read and watch every single response from the first part of Erik's briefing below...

Part one: Press conference v Wolves Video

Part one: Press conference v Wolves

Press conference part one | You aren't ready for Monday's Premier League opener against Wolves until you've seen this...

Could you update us on Rasmus's fitness? There was some speculation he was going to be out for longer than first anticipated...
"As we said previously, he had a small issue and he is not on the levels where our players are [at] in this moment. So now we have to train him. So the prognosis is difficult, always to say. We are confident and we are positive."

What is your view going into this game of where the squad is, where the fitness is and the feeling about the form and trying to avoid what happened last year?
"You never can compare seasons with each other but I think we are much further than last season. But you can never compare games. Also different opponents. But I think we had a very good pre-season. Our fitness levels are very good. We are on really good levels. I also think our performance levels during the pre-season were on a high level. We are very confident but I also want to mention, pre-season doesn't say anything. Pre-season is pre-season. It is friendly football. Although I never take a game as a friendly but it is friendly in the sense of in the league. When you are going for the points, it is a different approach for both teams. We are ready, we want to fight. We are looking forward and energetic and we go for it."
It's unusual that a team gets rid of their manager a week before the season starts. What kind of issue does that give you?
"Some uncertainty you don't know. But it is up to them and we have to look at our own. We prepare for the game. If [a manager] doesn't change that makes it also easy. I never look to an opponent. I respect them, we analyse them, but it's always how we play against the opponent."

Rasmus is unavailable and Tom Heaton, the club has done an update on him. Have you got any update on players that got injured in pre-season? I'm thinking Henderson, Martial, Mainoo, Amad, Malacia...
"Some issues you don't mention, are from last season, like Malacia. He came into the season with an issue. We had 30 players on the tour and I think we are really fit. Disappointment, Amad. Disappointment, Kobbie, absolutely. But that is what happens when you go to the limits in top sport and top football. Injuries are not avoidable. But we have a strong squad and we can pick a strong team and I think that has shown in the last two games from the weekend against Lens, the number two of France last season, and against Athletic [Club] Bilbao on Sunday. We played two teams and two strong sides. We can tell we have more than 11 starting players."
Ten Hag's mission statement for 2023/24 Video

Ten Hag's mission statement for 2023/24

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Will they be available soon, and will Harry Maguire be available for selection on Monday?
"Of course."

Will the others be back soon?
"You go specific, Malacia will take some time, the same as Amad and Kobbie, they are really impact injuries. All the others, like Henderson and Hojlund, I think are quite short notice but short notice what is the definition of it? It will take a few weeks."
We understand that some fans are due to protest ahead of the game on Monday. How frustrating is it for you that the ownership hasn't been resolved?
"I think am confident and I am sure that the fans will support the team. We constructed that last season, the connection between the fans and the team. I think we made it stronger in the pre-season, we have seen that in the tour but also we have seen that back here in the UK. I think there is a really strong support and a really good fight around the team and the fans and the team."

How damaging for the Premier League is Harry Kane leaving, and would you have liked him here?
"First of all, we have chosen a striker and we are really happy with our choice but yeah, he is a great striker, it is clear. He is a goal-maker and apart from that he has all the conditions that you want to see and the abilities you want to see from a striker. It is a miss for the Premier League, absolutely."

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You don't have to face him anymore...
"Yeah but what I like and what my players like is we want to face the best."

Were United ever serious candidates to sign Kane?
"I don't think that I have to go into that discussion or to give an opinion about that. We are professional, the processes we do are really careful and we consider a lot of things but, finally, we have to make decisions. We don't take decisions overnight. There is a strategy in every decision and we are happy with the squad we have now."