Every word from Erik's pre-Aston Villa press conference

Friday 28 April 2023 13:30

Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag fielded questions from the media on Thursday night, ahead of our Premier League clash with Aston Villa at Old Trafford this Sunday.

Returning to home soil following back-to-back away games in the league and a trip to Wembley, United host Unai Emery's side as the top-four race continues.

Ten Hag's team were held to a 2-2 draw with Spurs on Thursday evening in north London, after Pedro Porro and Heung-min Son both struck in the second period, cancelling out Jadon Sancho and Marcus Rashford's first-half strikes.

Speaking ahead of our upcoming clash with the Villans (14:00 BST), almost immediately after the final whistle at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, the boss was quizzed on Alejandro Garnacho's fitness, Bruno Fernandes's desire and, of course, our quest for Champions League qualification.

Below you can read every single word from the first part of Erik's pre-match media briefing...

Press conference: United v Aston Villa Video

Press conference: United v Aston Villa

Press conference | Erik ten Hag discusses Alejandro Garnacho, Bruno Fernandes and Villa's form ahead of Sunday's game...

Erik, is Alejandro Garnacho any closer to returning?
"Yes. He will return tomorrow [Friday] in the team training part and then we have to see when he can return totally in the team training and then back into games."

There have been suggestions that because of the Under-20 World Cup that he could miss the run in which includes the FA Cup final. Would you allow him to go to that tournament or would you prevent him?
"No, we don't release him."

Erik what did you make of Jadon Sancho today? Do you think that performance could help him kick on for the rest of the season? Also, why did you take him off?
"He scored a great goal. I think he had to score another one. But yeah, we had quite a good performance, but we lose control and also in the pressing before half-time I already said about the defence organisation of [the] left side wasn't great, the cooperation wasn't great over that side and I hoped also to improve that."

Erik, I suppose this is a big question after a game but how many times this season do you think have you seen United play a full match as you want it?
"We had some games like two weeks ago against [Nottingham] Forest. I think that was, for instance, quite a game [that] was almost [at] optimum and you see it's not so easy to play Forest. You see Liverpool struggling. You see yesterday Brighton is struggling there, but that was a very good performance [from] our side and we have had more games but I have to think which games. But especially I think [against] City there was it was a brilliant game from our side and we had more. I also think Arsenal, both games, we played very well and there were many games where we were very dominant. So I like to play, for instance, Real Betis at home, Barcelona. So we had our games where we played very good football."

Preview: United v Aston Villa


Find out the latest information ahead of United's Premier League fixture versus high-flying Aston Villa at Old Trafford.

Erik you have really embraced the domestic cup competitions since you've come to England and winning the League Cup and reaching the FA Cup final. Would that be irrelevant to you if you don't make the top four? The top four is the bread and butter, is that the key for Manchester United next season?
"I think as Manchester United and as a top team, then you have to compete and go for the win in every competition you are in. So that's what we are doing and that is the culture we want to create and to construct and so that is what we are doing. So that has to be in the mindset of every player and every employee who is working for Manchester United."

Hi Erik, just one on Bruno [Fernandes]. He started tonight after some said maybe he wouldn't be fit enough. How is he doing? How was that?
"He was tough and big compliment to Bruno. He absolutely doesn't want to miss this game and he did everything to get fit. I think he is the example and that you have to suffer, that you have to sacrifice when you want to play at the top level, when you want to achieve something. So once again, he showed there how [much of a] great captain he is, how he has taken responsibility, even if he is not 100% fit. But he did the job. He was important in this game as well, and hopefully others in the team can, not learn, but see him as an inspiration and do the same."