Erik ten Hag in the dugout against Wolves

Every word from Ten Hag's pre-Everton briefing

Thursday 05 January 2023 18:02

Manchester United are back in action on Friday as we take on Everton in the third round of the Emirates FA Cup.

The Reds are unbeaten in four games since the restart of club football, following the conclusion of the World Cup, scoring nine goals and keeping four clean sheets. 

Friday will mark Erik ten Hag's first taste of this competition, and he addressed the media this afternoon ahead of Everton's visit. 

From the potential arrival of Jack Butland to trophy hopes, here's what the Dutchman said to reporters in his press conference...

Part one: Erik's pre-Everton press conference Video

Part one: Erik's pre-Everton press conference

Press conference part one | Ten Hag discusses goalkeepers, Rashford and more, before the Toffees' visit...

How are you looking forward to your first FA Cup game as Manchester United manager?
"For me, the cup is always special. I know in England the FA Cup is even more [special]. Higher expectations, higher standards, as in the Netherlands. It's a different cup and in not so many games, you can achieve a lot. Also, you have to come away a winner - this is possible when you draw and there is replay, but, after two, it's a knockout, so I like that."

Can I ask you, if any, what update you can give us on Jack Butland and his pending move from Crystal Palace?
"Yes. So Martin [Dubravka] was recalled, and in our set-up, we need a squad with three experienced goalkeepers. We have some young ones and they do well, but we have so many games so you need three good goalies in training but also when there are problems, you need experience in the goal to catch your goals that you are aiming for."

How many games might he play? What could he bring?
"Well what he brings - and I'm really happy with David [De Gea], it's quite clear he is our no.1 and he is performing really good - but something could happen with David as well and you have to prepared for that and not [end up] in such a moment where you only have one experienced goalkeeper, when you are unlucky. Last year, I had a situation with Ajax - we have three goalies injured. And you don't want to come in a situation where you have have to, at the end of the season, hopefully you play for trophies, put in a young keeper. You can't expect it from the young goalkeeper but also you kill your season so that's what you have to be prepared for."

Can I just ask you about Marcus Rashford... as his manager, where do you see the areas that he can improve, that he can get better, because we know all about his speed and he scores goals. What area is he working on to try and make him and even better player than he is now?
 "First of all, keep the focus. Always, it doesn't matter if you are in the game or if you are not in the game, keep focusing on scoring a goal. I think a player like Marcus, but also like others in our squad like Anthony Martial is the same, when they stay in the game mentally, focus 100 per cent, concentrated, they have the skills and need only one moment to change the game in a positive way. So if he develops that skill, I think he will score more goals and [have] even more contributions to a successful season."

Ten Hag believes Rashford can contribute 'even more' to a successful season.

Erik, in terms of your season as a whole, you've got two home cup ties and you're in the top four of the Premier League. Are you where you thought you'd be at this stage of the season?
"I don't know but let's say this, I think we are in a good position. We are there where we want to be but still we go from game to game. We play in many [competitions] so we focus from game to game and don't think too far ahead."

When you moved into the top four, people began to wonder if you are able to compete for the title? Is that an ambition, is that a dream of yours?
 "As I said, we have to go from game to game and still think about and work on that progress, the process. It's all about that. As a team, first state, and then also as an individual because when the team is performing, also individuals are getting better."

Training highlights: Energised for Everton Video

Training highlights: Energised for Everton

Training highlights | The Reds are preparing to begin our Emirates FA Cup quest, against the Toffees...

What would it be like to win a trophy in your first season at Manchester United?
 "I don't think about that. At this stage of the season, that is not where you are looking at. You have to look at getting into a position where you can win something because there are so many games to play and I know the season is long, especially with a lot of the games still ahead. I don't get distracted. When you think too far ahead, you get distracted. Don't do it, focus on the game. Focus on your progress. Focus on your team performance. Focus on the team development. It's all about that. There are many elements in our game that we have to improve, so think about that, concentrate on that and work together to get it better."

Will you have to strengthen in January, do you think, to stay where you are or to push on?
"We always have to look for that as we push the players, because good is not good enough. Also in our organisation, we have to push each other and when there are opportunities, you always have to be ready for that. But my main focus is to get a better team, to improve the team."