Every word from Erik’s Galatasaray press conference
Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag has been speaking to journalists at our pre-match press conference before Wednesday’s game away to Galatasaray.
The boss was joined by Bruno Fernandes for the media session at Carrington on Tuesday afternoon, with both previewing our crucial UEFA Champions League group-stage clash in Turkey.
Erik fielded questions on the latest team news - shortly before the travelling squad was announced – the hostile atmosphere that awaits at RAMS Park, 18-year-old midfielder Kobbie Mainoo and more. You can see all of his responses, in full, below…
"I think so, yeah. But probably it will be the same for Galatasaray. I think we improved, so it's good progress. You see how we are stepping up, we are more stable, we are winning games, so definitely, there's a big difference from the first moment we played them."
Erik, are Rasmus [Hojlund] and Antony both fit to start the game against Galatasaray if needed?
"They are in the squad."
Just on Kobbie, he played so well at Goodison, that was a bit of a hostile atmosphere but Galatasaray will be another level - do you have any concerns about starting him in such a game of importance and in such an atmosphere?
"No, we don't have fear. If players are good enough, then they are old enough."
"You [the journalists] can always find [something]. Last year, we couldn't win away from home, that was 'an issue'. Now we can't win at home. Now we're winning away games and you're bringing up we don't win away games in Europe. We know we can do [it]. We are confident because the last games in the league away from home were also very hostile environments and we played very well. We were very calm and composed, this team also [did it] last year in Barcelona. So, we know how to deal with it and tomorrow I'm sure we'll be a confident team on the pitch."
Is that something you'll stress to the players and Bruno as well as captain, that you need to keep your heads, you need to be disciplined tomorrow night, not react to anything? Because the opponents will be trying to do that to you... how important is that to not rise to that?
"Absolutely. You have to stay calm in your head and don't get too emotional. You need emotions but you have to control it. Don't give them anything, don't give the refereeing as well that moment that they are going to take. So you have to stay away from such moments. But we know how to deal with it. You have to play confident and make it your game, it's not that important how the opponent is playing, it's important how we are playing, how we are dealing with possession, out of possession. We will make a good plan, but at the end of the moment, the players have to decide, they have to manage the game."
Hi Erik, a bit like winning at Everton, how much of a boost would a win be in Turkey for the development of your team and where you would like to go this season? Because you're obviously getting better and this would kick you on again I suppose...
"Yeah, of course it would help. But as the previous question to Bruno, I don't think in scenarios. First we have to do it, rise to the occasion, get the performance and then we will see what it will do for the team. You can point out what it will do, the same as [when] we beat Everton, a difficult game in that environment, an opponent in form. If you beat them, it gives belief and confidence."
Just with regards to Bruno giving the penalty to Marcus [Rashford] at Everton, as a manager do you support that? Because you're 1-0 up, needing a win, it's great that it went in but if it didn't, do you just say fair play to Bruno for showing leadership? Or do you sort of think: 'You're the penalty taker, you should have taken it'?
[Bruno answers]: "We have a list of penalty takers, and their number in the order of penalty takers - who is going to be the first, second or third. First being myself because in the past few years it has always been me. But when I arrived at the club, Marcus was the penalty taker. He was injured when I arrived so I started taking penalties. He was always respectful on the side, saying ‘you're doing it now, you're doing it well, so keep going.’ At moments he had his moment to take the penalty and sometimes we’ve had moments to give the ball to each other. I think it's not important who takes it, because I think the manager puts a paper out there with the penalty takers and the two names for that game was me and Marcus. So, it's just about deciding who’s going to take that. It doesn't have to be always Bruno. It doesn't have to be always Marcus. But it has to be someone where we are 100 percent sure that the ball is going to go in. We are never 100 percent sure because it's 50/50 every time. I could have taken the penalty and missed and we will never know. But the thing is that Marcus took it and he scored."
Erik: "It's not 50/50 [that they will score]! With them, we are confident, with Rashy and with Bruno, we know they will score. But I want to emphasise I think it's great leadership, if you understand that your team-mate needs a goal and you have confidence in each other to give the penalty away. But I'm sure Bruno would have made it as well."
Is that a good example why Bruno is your captain?
"That is one of the examples, yeah."
I just wanted to ask about Kobbie Mainoo, there's obviously been a lot of attention on him since his performance against Everton, praise for his performance but even looking longer term and talking about his international future... do you welcome that kind of attention or do you need to calm it down given his is such a fledgling career at the moment?
"We are very pleased with the performance but it's one performance and you have to do it on a consistent basis. But Kobbie is so mature, he knows that. We are confident he will do it. But first you have to prove [that], you are only as good as your last game."
But when he's getting that kind of attention, how do you, Bruno as well, look after a young player in this kind of environment?
"Enjoy it first, but keep the focus on the game, so don't get distracted from it, that your focus is going to things next to football. It's about the game. You have to focus on your game, on your performance and get the right levels in. When we observe, if a player is getting distracted and moving away from football, we will tell him. But until that point, we don't do. I see in training the levels, so I am not concerned in this moment that Kobbie is getting distracted from it."
"For Pelli also, he has to make a step from a bench player - often having a very good impact - to a starting XI player. We will see how quick that process will go."
Galatasaray's victory over Manchester United in 1993 is a very important milestone in Turkish football and was the game that created Galatasaray's famous chant: 'Welcome to hell.' How do you plan to protect your players from the feverish atmosphere in Istanbul, and what are your plans to get out of 'hell'?
"We have to make it our game, and that's the history. Obviously, Manchester United has a great history but you can't take any guarantee from it in the future, we have to make our own future."
In the previous three matches played against Galatasaray in Istanbul, Manchester United have failed to win or score a goal... do you feel pressure because of this? And looking back to your defeat to Galatasaray last month, in your opinion, what did you think you did wrong in that game and what lessons did you learn from it?
"I think a similar answer [to the previous question], it's the past. So, tomorrow it's about the future. We have to make it our game. It's on us."