Every word from Erik's pre-Forest press conference

Friday 14 April 2023 12:30

Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag briefed the media on Friday afternoon, ahead of Sunday's Premier League clash away to Nottingham Forest.

Less than a day after the Reds relinquished a two-goal lead to draw 2-2 with Sevilla in our Europa League quarter-final first leg, Erik was once more answering questions from journalists, with injuries a hot topic on the tongues of those present.

The boss issued an update on Lisandro Martinez – who was stretchered down the tunnel after being carried off on Thursday – discussed Luke Shaw and Scott McTominay, and reiterated the standards of our football club, among other topics.

With the second part of Erik's press conference not being released until 22:30 BST on Saturday, read every word from the first part below...

Forest v United: Press conference Video

Forest v United: Press conference

Press conference | Erik ten Hag reflects on the Sevilla game, discusses injuries and looks forward to Forest away...

It's not been long, but do you know any more about Martinez or Varane or any of the players who missed last night?
"No, sorry. It is not even 24 hours so I don't have complete diagnosis, so I can't tell in this moment."

You already said that Martinez and Varane won't play this weekend. How much faith do you have in Maguire and Lindelof?
"A lot. I think we have decent centre-halves and they have proved in the past, they have proved this season. We have four or five very good centre-halves who can do the job."

Any players available that were missing?
"For Sunday? Yeah, [there] could be, but we have to see. We have now two sessions to go of training, so I don't know by now, but it can be that Scott and Luke return in the squad, but [I'm] not sure."
A lot happened last night and with all the focus on injuries, it kind of got overlooked how well Anthony Martial started. Were you pleased with his performance?
"When you see the first half, I think we were in a really good shape. Aaron Wan-Bissaka played very well, Antony played very well, Marcel Sabitzer played really well. Bruno played very good and Anthony Martial as well. Also Rapha and Licha, so there were many positives about yesterday's game."

Erik, how difficult is it for you at this stage of the season. You have 11 games to still play, possibly 13 or 14 in the space of seven or eight weeks. You have injuries to deal with as well, so is there any way in which you can rotate the squad?
"We have depth in the squad. We have to use the squad – that's also what we did yesterday. In the meantime, you have to win games so also you have to have a tactical approach to win the games but I think we have good players and when we have problems – so injuries and suspensions – we have depth in the squad."

Your thoughts on Nottingham Forest? They've got plenty to play for as well...
"I know what place they are [in] and we know what we can expect on Sunday. They are in survival mode and they will run for their lives. We have to be ready for that game."

Ten Hag offers update on four Reds


The boss discussed Varane and Martinez, plus McTominay and Shaw in the press conference for Sunday's trip to Forest.

With Martial having played so well last night, do you have an idea of when he will be able to complete 90 minutes? Because it has been a while since he finished a game.
"So maybe he can, but it's a risk and we can't take that risk in this moment, because we don't have so many options in the frontline with Rashford injured, with Garnacho injured. We don't have so many options there, so we have to be careful and also in [an] individual prospect, we know when there is a lot of load he gets injured. So we have to build it and, especially when the games are coming quick after each other, the recovery time is less. We have to take that also in mind and manage that very well and very carefully."

Looking ahead to next week with Harry Maguire suspended for the Brighton game, is that going to have an impact on your selection for the coming games? That you may not be able to risk certain players who may not be available for Brighton?
"We have to take that in mind as well, of course. We know that Harry is suspended but he is good. I think he played very good against Everton, yesterday he came in and also [did] very good. And in the coming games, it is up to him, but around [that] we have to take it in mind that he is suspended for the game against Brighton."

There were some claims from Argentina that Martinez might have a broken metatarsal. Is there any truth in that?
"I can't say in this moment. When we have news we will give it straight to you. But let's do the medical, do their assessment and full diagnose, complete diagnose, and then we will give the news. But I think it doesn't change in this moment."

You have no idea what it might be?
"Yes, I have an idea, but I don't go on speculation."

Bruno: Seville a chance for others to shine


Fernandes says the second leg of our Europa League quarter-final opens the door for some Reds to impress.

Forest have played 30 games this season, last night was your 50th. I think that will happen a lot this season, where you come against a team that hasn't played as many games as you have. Is there any concern about the energy levels of your players for this run-in?
"Yes, but I see [it] also [as] an advantage. We had more games but we are also [in] more routines, so we like to play and that will give the energy. I think [there are] many, many advantages and we want to go for silverware and we have to give energy. If we want to go and make the season a success we have to give energy."

When you get to this stage in the season and every game seems to have something riding on it, how important is it to have players in the squad like a Varane or a Casemiro who are so used to getting into this stage of the year and playing in massive games?
"Of course, they have to help the team with their leadership because they have the experience to win silverware, to win, to get the success. So they have to point and to coach the team."

On that point about leadership. Peter Schmeichel said there was a lack of leadership in the latter stages against Sevilla. Do you think that's fair?
"I think [in] the second half, yes, we dropped down our levels, we dropped our standards, and we make some mistakes and, as I said, we had bad luck definitely with injuries. We had bad luck with the goals – the goals were so lucky, deflected, but you can avoid it and we had to avoid it, so we also have to look in the mirror."

Qualifying for the top four was always going to be difficult, but how much harder is it with the injuries you have? And for those players coming in, how important is it that they step up and show the mental toughness needed to get you through this difficult period and keep you on course?
"When you said that question, it is also the answer. Every game is a battle. Every game is a fight and you have to be ready for that fight. We have a squad, I have said all season we have more than 11 starters. So now others are on and when their time is there, you have to show and to contribute to the team. And you have to be ready and that is what we expect and we demand."

Highlights: United v Sevilla Video

Highlights: United v Sevilla

Watch two minutes of action from the opening leg of our Europa League quarter-final tie…

Is it difficult for the players that haven't played that much to come in and be expected to perform at that level?
"I think then you are finding excuses. And when you are wanting to find excuses and set excuses then you don't have to play at Manchester United and you have to look for another club. You have to wait for your moment and when your moment is there you have to contribute and you have to bring your performance. That is what we demand."

You said about Bruno Fernandes and Antony both playing well last night. And you said you brought them off because the referee had warned you that they could get sent off. Why didn't you just leave them on and trust them to keep their heads?
"Because the next [time] Bruno was throwing the ball away [the referee] said: 'The next he is off.' And he saved him because the player from Seville did the same in the first half and got booked for it. Antony, finally, I think he started out but don't come [involved] in such circumstances, everything is going our way. Two-nil up, we are playing a good game, so don't go into individual battles with your opponents. It is not necessary. You [wind] up the opponent and [increase] the risk to get sent off. I don't want to take that risk and it's easy [to look back at it] afterwards. Where I come from, you call it 'You are looking a cow in the ass.' That is what we call it in my region from the Netherlands. That's easy [to look back in hindsight], but when he gets sent off, you tell me: 'Why don't you get him off, why did you take the risk?'"

So you said the first one, with Bruno throwing the ball away and could be booked...
"That would be his second."