Every word from Erik's press conference: Part two

Saturday 01 April 2023 22:30

Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag believes his players are fully focused on the task at hand, as we prepare to return to Premier League action against Newcastle United on Sunday afternoon.

Following the completion of the recent international break, the Reds will make the trip to St James' Park, in the first of our nine fixtures scheduled for the month of April.

Erik, who was joined by journalists at Carrington on Friday afternoon, was quizzed on a wide range of topics, including Wout Weghorst's future, Champions League football and the resumption of our season.

As we edge nearer to kick-off, you can now read, and watch, everything the boss had to say in part two of his media briefing, ahead of a highly anticipated encounter in the North East.

Newcastle v United: Press conference part two Video

Newcastle v United: Press conference part two

Press conference part two | Erik talks Wout Weghorst, summer additions, Champions League football and more...

Hi Erik, you just said [in part one] that the team plays better when Wout [Weghorst] is in it. Could you explain why and does he have any chance of maybe becoming a permanent Manchester United player for next season?
''Of course. I think he is doing a lot of elements of football really well. He is doing a really good job for us in pressing, so he is the leader of the process in pressing. He starts the press and he is very good in the backward pressing. He is taking other positions and his link-up play, he is doing really well. He creates movements and makes good movements. He is also good in the set plays. He is really a contribution to the performance of this team and this team after Christmas, we played 25 games and we lost two games. So you can see and he played nearly almost all those games. He was really a part of that success.''

When it comes to signing new players in the summer which you clearly are going to be looking to do, how vital is it that you can offer them Champions League football? How vital is it to finish in the top four when you have got others who are going to looking around the same pool, Liverpool, Newcastle, people like that? If you can offer them Champions League football, that gives you a clearly vital edge ahead of them?
''But let's make one thing clear, we have to play Champions League football and a club like Manchester United has to play in the Champions League. So there is no misunderstanding.''

Does that mean for all it’s great for the fans and everything to give them one cup and ideally give them another cup, but you've got to be in the Champions League? Is that the be all and end all if you want to be in the market for the players you want to be in the market for? You've got be able to offer them that?
''Of course, we are more interesting when we are in the Champions League, but when we are not, we are still attractive for players. I have noticed that last year when we were not in the Champions League but I want to make my point clear, we have to be in the Champions League. So we have two parts, one is via the Premier League and be in the top four, or by the winning of the Europa League, so that is the two parts.''

You spoke about last summer attracting big-name players to the club. How were you able to sell Manchester United to players like Casemiro, Antony, when you were in the Europa League? Was it that vision that you would return to the Champions League eventually?
''I think that is a very good example with Casemiro. He won everything, Champions Leagues but also that he is willing to come to Manchester United, even when we were playing in the Europa League. This club attracts people and it is very interesting for them, they want to be part of this club.''

Erik you've been an outstanding cup team this season, now you have three league games. Has there been a difference in approach or the levels do you think between the league and the cup games?
''We want to win every game and I think that is when we talk about culture. To construct a culture you have to win every game and I think that is the approach we have in every game, so we will prepare every game 100 per cent, we don't want to miss things in any game. I think that is what people can expect from us and that is the demands we have to set.''

Erik you have mentioned a few times this year about how seven or eight teams could be able to win the Premier League of which Newcastle are probably one now. They have almost unlimited wealth available to them in the transfer market and wages and things like that. How hard is it to compete with that over the long term and what do you need to be able to do to compete with that when at least a couple of teams in this league have monies that others don't?
''But money is one thing and the thing is also strategy. When I was at Ajax, we had a low budget in comparison with many opponents in the Champions League and still, we won the groups, we came to the semi-finals and we were really close to [reaching] the final. It is also possible with a lower budget to beat teams with a higher budget.''

Read the positive news on Martial


Erik ten Hag gave an update on our no.9 during Friday's pre-Newcastle press conference.

And is the strategy right at this club do you think from what you have seen over the last year? Do they have the right strategy in place to succeed?
''From my analysis, we are in a good direction, the right direction. I think we are building a base this season and from here on, we have to progress and develop. You can do that by developing a team and that is every game, you have to play a better game, so every training you can develop your way of play and that is what we are doing. We are also setting, every time, high demands and standards to our players, and then for the rest, in the summer, we will see. That is not, in this moment, a focus point, the focus is now on the way of play and to make a better way of play so we have a better chance of winning games.''