Every word from Erik's press conference

Wednesday 27 December 2023 00:21

Erik ten Hag's Manchester United secured a 3-2 victory at Old Trafford on Boxing Day, following a terrific comeback from two goals down against Aston Villa.

Goals from John McGinn and Leander Dendoncker before the half-hour mark looked to have built a difficult challenge for the Reds, but it was one they were equal to.

The Dutchman's side took the game by storm, a double from Alejandro Garnacho drew us level, before Rasmus Hojlund stepped up to seal the victory, getting himself off the mark with his first Premier League goal in the process.

Following the dramatic turnaround, the boss took questions from journalists inside the stadium. Here's everything he discussed...

Erik's post-match press conference Video

Erik's post-match press conference

Erik ten Hag is asked about Rasmus Hojlund, INEOS's investment and more...

Quite a second half, quite an atmosphere there. Dave Brailsford was watching in the directors' seats, what do you think he and Jim Ratcliffe would have thought of that performance?
"I don't know. You have to ask them the questions."

Is it fair to say it was the best and worst of your team though?
"No, it wasn't the worst. I think already, the first half and we played solid, only it was a little sloppy to give two goals away from set-plays. I think only [at] half-time we slightly changed a little, the pressing, but there was a really slight change. But we said keep going. Already [in] the first half we created chances; twice Rasmus Hojlund, or Marcus Rashford, Bruno Fernandes, Diogo Dalot, and were all very good, created chances from open play. So, we said keep going, and believing in ourselves, and I said that that is what I demand from a team. And I said it before the game, I said during half-time. Keep believing and we will win this game."


You switched Garnacho to the right tonight and he was terrific. I mean, he can play very well on the left and he can play well on the right. Is it getting to the point now where it doesn't necessarily matter where he plays, he's that influential?
"I think we did it previously as well, and then he was almost more comfortable on the left. But yeah, I think he can play on the right as well. And, today, I think he was from that right side, over 90 minutes, absolutely a threat, and scored twice. But I think the whole frontline played very good, and invested so lot runs behind, and the timings were so good, and I think it was continually a threat for the opponent."

I know Rasmus has scored in the Champions League, but how important is it for him to get that goal in that atmosphere? And also, have you had to keep him confident, keep him upbeat during this period?
"Yes, of course, I have had several talks with him. And every time I pointed out; you scored for Denmark, a lot, you scored in the Champions League, so that's demonstrated ability. So you can do it, so believe in it and it will come. And I'm sure now the first goal's in, he will net more."

How was he in the dressing room?
"Yeah, of course, when strikers don't score that's always a problem. But he has a strong character. He's so resilient, he's so determined. And so he has a big personality. And I think that is what a striker needs. And when you keep investing, the goals will come."

United 3 Aston Villa 2


The Reds made a magnificent Boxing Day comeback, with an all-important first Premier League goal for Rasmus Hojlund.

It's the first game since the INEOS deal was announced, was there any frustration about how long it was taking to be confirmed? And now that it has been confirmed, has there been any sort of pressure taken off the players, or has there been any kind of impacts?
"I don't think it has had an impact on the players. And so for me, I kept informed and during the whole process, first from Richard Arnold, later on from Patrick Stewart, so I knew what's going on. Yeah, we're looking forward. I think it's positive for the club that they are in, they're stepping in. They have a lot of experience in sport on the highest level: F1, [the] cycling team, other football clubs. So, it can only help and support us to catch our targets. So we are looking forward. They want to work with us, and we want to work with them."

You need to follow this result up with some consistent form now, too often this season you've had a good result followed by a poor one. How do you change that?
"Yeah, but you also have to analyse why. And so, we have to so often change the team and you don't get the routines in. We know football is about solid performance, and consistency, and top football. But we know we have to make a step there. But I'm sure when we have more players often available, and especially in key positions, then we will get a consistent role."

Marcus Rashford hasn't started for three weeks. He's come in tonight, he's had a few shots, set up the goal. How did you think he did? And were you happy to see him back?
"I think he played very good. But he was ill during a period [of time]. But also, he had one or two games that we prefer to play Garnacho over [on] the left side, and because he [Garnacho] deserved it. He showed he was not only a threat, but he had key actions: assists, shots on target and scored goals. So yeah, there is also internal competition, but we have to see how we fit them in with togetherness. And today we played Alejandro on the right side, and that can be a solution, but it can also be fluid. But also, I know Rashford will also score from the right side."