Press conference part two: Read every word
Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag believes injuries at the top level of professional football are things that you often 'cannot avoid', following recent setbacks to Mason Mount and Luke Shaw.
The boss was quizzed on a range of topics during part two of his pre-match press conference, including the current state of his squad. He also failed to rule out any further activity in the transfer market.
Here, you can read every word from the second half of Ten Hag's media briefing...
“Of course I back him and I think he has to also to make his point and it's justified and it was a clear penalty. So I think also then you have to express it, but also don't get distracted from it. You have to keep focusing on your job.”
How have you found it since he took the armband permanently, how have you found him as your captain?
“Yeah. Last season when he did it as a replacement. He did already brilliantly. And now as well. It's really an inspiration. He is an example for the team. The personality [he shows]. So, yeah, I think he's a very good captain.”
I understand you don’t want to talk about Mason Greenwood, but given that you can't play him now, do you feel that you're short in attack?
“No, because we have when I count, seven front players and we have also coming up young talents, as we have seen in the pre-season, who are getting close.”
“No. The outcome in Brazil was clear and he completed a good pre-season. He's also scoring some goals. He is more often in the situations where he is a threat for the opponent, but not only a threat. He's in the key moments there, where he should have been. Now we have to finish. In pre-season he scored two goals and, also, I think, one assist. So I think he is in a good direction. And now he has to speed up because for us, good is not good enough. So don't get distracted. Focus on football and on performing.”
Erik, the transfer window closes next Friday. Do you hope to get more reinforcements in before the window? And with Rasmus Hojlund not yet available and the prospects of Greenwood coming back are now over, would a striker be in your thoughts?
“No, because Rasmus will be available from next week on and then we are with Rasmus, with Anthony Martial. We have coverage and also, of course, we have Rashy [Marcus Rashford] as well there. So we have enough players to cover and quality players to cover that position.”
Erik you said earlier that when you were asked about being overrun, that it was the front and the back - they were the problems. What specifically was it that those areas of the team weren’t doing?
“They didn’t run. And when they did run, it was in the wrong moment and it was too late. Especially the front, they didn’t recover.”
“It happened. You can't turn it around. It's a demand here if you want to win games. And we were, for the first 35 minutes, we were so good in the game and we dominated the game totally. We should have scored a minimum once but I think two and they were nowhere. Nothing. And then things happened in the game and then they got distracted, not doing the jobs anymore. And that's not the demands from a Manchester United player, from our team and I'm not used to it from this team because they always do. And that is what the players and what the fans can expect. But we have to demand.”
You lost three pre-season games, I know one of them was against Wrexham, with a junior team. You struggled against Wolves and lost against Spurs, why is that happening? Considering you have been here a year, you have won a trophy, the players know what you want, the game plan. Why has it been so flat?
“So that's what I say when I came in. We are in those games over the full course, we didn't match the standards we had, but nevertheless we beat Wolves. We played the first 35 minutes, very good at Spurs. But you have to demand from Manchester United that you must do it for 90 minutes and you do it every game. No matter what.”
Did you become angry at your players for that?
“I told them, I give them the feedback. This is not acceptable and we have to work as a team. We have to do it in togetherness and everyone individually has to take responsibility. We need accountable players.”
“Oh yeah. We are in the same boat. So I'm responsible for it. So me as well. We have to do that in togetherness and we have to face the first two games were not good enough. But still, we won one and from the other, we can take the positives. If we do the right things in the first 35 minutes, we have a very good team and we will win games if everyone is doing their doing their job.”
Gary O'Neil after the Wolves game said that he got an apology for the penalty at the end. Did you get one for the Spurs one after that?
“It happened. And I know in football, sometimes the decisions are on your side, sometimes it's against you. You have to accept it. Sometimes it's annoying. You of course hope for a consistent line. But as I say, we have to accept it. And still, if the decision is against you, you still have to win.”
Is it annoying that in one instance their manager got the apology, and you didn’t?
“Make your own opinion.”
“There’s always a reason but you can't avoid it in top football. Players go to the limits and you see it across all kinds of teams, their injuries are coming. But it's our job to do research. Its up to us to find reasons and maybe you can learn from it to the future.”
Will that affect what you do next week, with Luke being out?
“It can be, because we have to anticipate situations. So if there are opportunities, yes. But it has to be the right player. And otherwise we have to deal with the current squad. And, as I said before, I know we went through the scenarios before the season with our transfer strategy and if that happened, we have the solution.”