Every word from Erik's press conference: Part one

Tuesday 27 February 2024 13:08

Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag has been speaking to the media ahead of our Emirates FA Cup fifth-round tie away to Nottingham Forest on Wednesday night.

Ten Hag conducted his pre-match press conference at our Carrington training ground earlier this (Tuesday) afternoon, and you can now view every word from the first half of it below.

The manager began with an update on Casemiro’s availability, after he took a knock to the head in the weekend loss to Fulham, and went on to share further reflections from that game, while turning the focus to our important midweek trip to The City Ground.

Part one: Press conference v Forest Video

Part one: Press conference v Forest

Press conference part one | Erik answers questions on Casemiro, the Fulham result, our FA Cup ambitions and more...

Hi Erik, can you, first of all, just update us on Casemiro, because he went off with a cut and a bang to the head, is he allowed to play? Is he available to play tomorrow?
"Yes. So, it was bleeding, so he had to come off. It was not to our advantage that he couldn't continue the game, but he's available for tomorrow."

There was no concussion or anything like that?

Just in terms of tomorrow's game, how important is it to keep going in this competition? Clearly it's silverware that you could win, but also for general confidence around the club, you said you're aligned with Sir Jim Ratcliffe and INEOS but results like Saturday has undermined confidence that the club's going in the right direction...
"When you are unbeaten for January and February and you lose one game… we know our aim is to win every game. As United, you have to win every game. Obviously, it was a poor performance, a poor defeat, we are aware of this, and we want to stay in every competition. So, on your first question, yeah, we have to win tomorrow. But that doesn't change our approach, because that is [the case] for every game." 

When you talk about the future to people like Sir Dave Brailsford, what exactly do you talk about?
"About the future, so I know the future. But also, I have to look at today and we have to work on the team, on the team’s development and the progress and, of course, to win every game. That is also what we are doing. So, a lot of effort is in what is today but yeah, we also already look forward to longer term."
Speaking about working on the team, Erik, I don't know if you saw any of the Monday Night Football coverage last night, but Jamie Carragher was dissecting your team's out-of-possession performance and he was looking specifically at the Fulham game and he said that from what he could work out, you were trying to press high and also do a low block at the same time. When you hear things like that, is that a fair criticism of what you see unfold on the pitch?
"First of all, some analysts are very objective in their comments. [They give] very good advice. Some are subjective. Jamie Carragher is one of them. From the first moment on, he's criticising in how he wants to make his point, and probably in the first half an hour, he had a point. Fulham, in their midfield set-up, surprised us a little bit. We had to find the solutions. After half an hour, we found the solutions. And I was not pleased with the performance in defending, especially over on the left side, how we did the pressing because they came out, especially in the first half an hour, several times over on the left side. That can't happen and that has to do everything with willingness and spirit and passion. So, that, in the previous weeks, was very good from this team and, therefore, we won football games. But I know footballers are not robots, sometimes they have bad days. But it can't be, it's unacceptable and we have to do better tomorrow. But in the weeks before, we have done very well."

So, in terms of the winner Fulham scored, that was a moment on the pitch rather than the strategy of defending?
"It can't happen. They have a throw-in in the corner, how we manage this as a team, that was no good."

Ten Hag's team news for Forest tie


The boss provides an update on Casemiro after his head injury at the weekend.

Erik, you're not frightened to throw younger players in as we saw at the weekend, with Omari [Forson], and Amad Diallo came on late on in the game as well... I just wanted to ask you about Antony and the situation... he's kind of dropped down the pecking order a little bit, is that something between yourself and the player? Has he not been performing the way you want him to perform? And what's the situation going to be with him with the summer coming up also?
"First of all, I brought Kobbie Mainoo [into the team], and everyone was questioning. We are six weeks ahead and the same who were questioning are now telling: 'He has to go in the England squad'. Same people. Garnacho... it's the truth. I brought Garnacho [into the team]. 'What is the manager doing? What is the staff doing?' But they need time and so Omari came on and it's not easy to come into that game because we didn't play our best game. The team, then it's also for him, not easy [to come into] but he plays a reasonable game. And I think he showed abilities, that he can be a player for the future. So, they need some time, but they also have to know in, top football, you don't get time, you have to perform. And when you come in, you have to show it and, as a manager, I know they need the time. So, that is the paradox. I will give them the time because I believe in these players. The second question, Antony, I backed him for a long time and I know his abilities and he has great abilities, when he plays how I know from the past, he's unstoppable. No defender can stop him because he's one of the quickest players in the first 10 yards. So, when he plays that game, then he will perform. I'm sure and I'm very confident he will for the future, and I know, I'm sure he's resilient, he's a character and he will fight back. So, I back him in that place and he is now to wait for his chance and, once he's there, he has to pick up."

Erik, just with the cup game tomorrow and then the derby at the end of the week, does this feel like quite a defining week in terms of how the season will be viewed at the end?
"[There are] so many [defining moments]. there will be, coming up, more defining moments and, for me, it's always the first game is the most important."

Part two of Erik’s pre-Nottingham Forest press conference will be available to view in full on ManUtd.com and in the United App from 22:30 GMT this evening.