Every word from Erik's press conference: Part two

Wednesday 03 May 2023 22:30

Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag fielded further questions from the media, in the second part of his pre-match briefing ahead of our clash with Brighton and Hove Albion.

The Reds are in Premier League action on Thursday (20:00 BST) and can take a huge step towards a top-four finish with victory at the Amex Stadium.

Speaking ahead of our showdown with the Seagulls, the boss was quizzed at Carrington on a whole host of topics, providing an update on Lisandro Martinez's injury while also outlining how he feels his squad are ready for the test of Champions League football.

Scroll down further to read every word Erik said earlier today...

Press conference part two: Brighton v United Video

Press conference part two: Brighton v United

Press conference part two | Erik discusses our recent away form, Champions League football and more...

Erik, a lot of supporters appreciated you when you picked up the gold and green scarf at the weekend. Was that an act of solidarity with fans who want new ownership?
“No, it was just polite. But I know what is going around and what the symbol of it is, but this matter was just polite.”

Just going back to the away form, I think it's one win against the top 12 teams. You have played 10 of them and there is just Brighton left to play. Can you put your finger on why you have struggled away from home, because I suppose if you want to be title challengers next season, you are going to need a better away record against the better teams?
“That is absolutely true. It has to do with personality and character, that is where we have to step up and we have to face this. We have to definitely improve.”

Erik, just on the takeover process, there was a hope that it would be resolved one way or another by the end of April. That's obviously not going to be the case and it has dragged on. You can't influence those plans but depending on what happens, it could influence what you want to do in the summer. How important in your mind is it that the situation is resolved soon, so that you know exactly what situation you face in the summer?
“Yeah. I think it is clear what I want but it is not up to me. It's about others in the club and finally it is only the owners who can make that decision. So it is not up to me and I can do everything I can, and I influence the processes I am in charge of.”

Do you think there will be people that will try to buy the club that will be very mindful themselves of the importance of the summer and they themselves will hopefully want the situation resolved quickly, to assist you in whichever way they can?
“Yeah, but still, as I keep telling you the same answer, I can take my influence and I will do with those processes. That is not my job and that is not my responsibility and so I don't also have the power to influence that. I am focusing on improving the squad, improving the team, improve the team's development and I have to make sure the team is progressing. I am focusing only on that.”

Erik you have said the aim is the Champions League and you're getting closer to that now. Do you feel this team and squad is ready for the Champions League because you obviously beat Barcelona who are La Liga leaders, then you went out to Sevilla. Do you feel the squad you have now is capable of competing in the Champions League next season?
“Yeah, I think so. But of course, I and we see this as a project. In the project also it belongs that in [transfer] windows you strengthen your squad. Or to make refreshments so that you can get more balance, that you bring more players in but I think we have already shown and proved that we can beat the best teams in the world. So yeah we can compete in the Champions League but at the end of the day we also want to still be in the Champions League in the winter. We want to compete and knock them all out. But still we have a long way to go.”

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Just on Lisandro Martinez, is there any chance now he has had his surgery and is into his rehab that he is ready for the FA Cup final or is that ruled out completely?
“Completely no chance.”

In this sort of modern era of football you have directors of football at clubs, but do you think, actually, at any successful football club, the manager has to be the football person, therefore you get that power of authority through winning and building squads? So in the end, the manager is like what Ferguson was here or like Guardiola is at City, he becomes not only the manager but the chief scout, the director of football and in the end it is all about the manager still?
“I don't know if that is true because look at Txiki Begiristain [at Manchester City]. You cannot underestimate the role of what he has done.”

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Get all the information for United's trip to the south coast, as we look for a big result in the top-four race.

I am not underestimating it, but my question is do you think the manager has to be by definition, the most important football person at the club because that person lives or dies by results?
“Definitely. This is true that the manager, you have to back the manager, to believe in his strategies and his methods. So you have to back him to go and build his squad. At the end of the day, it is always about co-operation, no one can do it on their own. I don't believe that one person can do it, because there are so many jobs and tasks to do. There are so many aspects you have to take control of, you have to appoint and I don't think one person can do it and it always about co-operation. Then it is about quality that makes a strategy and you need more people and people to do it with togetherness. You can see that in reflection to the football and on the pitch because 11 players have to do it with togetherness.”

Hi Erik. Just another question on the whole takeover thing. I appreciate you have no power over what happens next, but are you confident or have you been told that you will have the funds to do what you want this summer, irrespective of how it goes and who takes over?
“No I don't have. I don't have influence on that also, I don't know. So the only thing that I know is that Manchester United is one of the biggest clubs and it is among two to three of the biggest clubs in the world from a fanbase perspective. I think this club has to compete for the highest [honours] in the world: Champions League and Premier League. But for that, you need funds, to construct squads because, at the end of the day, the levels from your players dictate whether you are a success or not.”

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But when the whole thing started, you say that any takeover would mean more money for you. I was just wondering as this thing has been drawn out over time, whether or not you have been given certain reassurances that whatever happens from May of course, that you will have the funds that you thought you were going to have?
“Again, everyone knows you need funds to construct a squad and high-level players, they cost a lot of money. That is nowadays the situation in top-level football.”