Every word from part one of Erik's pre-Reading press conference

Friday 27 January 2023 13:15

Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag met with the media at Carrington at midday, on the eve of his team's Emirates FA Cup fourth-round tie against Reading.

The Royals are the visitors to Old Trafford (KO 20:00 GMT) this Saturday evening with a place in the last 16 of the prestigious competition at stake. 

To preview the game, Erik fielded questions from reporters at our Carrington training ground, including enquiries on the availability of Diogo Dalot, Jadon Sancho and Luke Shaw and the club's short-term plans for the likes of Zidane Iqbal, Facundo Pellistri and Brandon Williams.

You can now read every word from the first section of his pre-match press conference below...
Part one: Ten Hag's pre-Reading press conference Video

Part one: Ten Hag's pre-Reading press conference

Press conference part one | See what Erik said about the squad, potential loan moves and our in-form defenders...

Good afternoon, Erik, you will play against a team halfway down the Championship. I wonder how big a problem complacency could be tomorrow, because on paper, you should win the game easily?
"But that's on paper, football is never decided on paper. So, we have to be ready for every game, every opponent will be tough and especially in the cup. For them, it's a perfect chance, we have to be aware of that. So, we will be [on the front foot], fully focused and full of energy."

You've done well in the cup competitions while also getting into the top four at this point in the season. How difficult is it to prioritise a top-four position or a trophy?
"We want to win every game so we plan [for] every game fully. The next game is always the most important game, so that's tomorrow, Reading."
In terms of team selection, have you got any issues?
"We always have issues, but I think tomorrow, we have a strong selection for this game. We have a good squad, we have depth in the squad, so we can cover things."

Erik, when you talk about strong selection, will that include Jadon Sancho yet?
"He is training with the team and we will see. He is improving, he is making steps, we will make the decision after the training."

So it's possible he could play?
"He's on the way back, he's making steps, so he's back in team training and now we have to see when he is ready to go back into the games."
Just in terms of some of the other younger players, you're obviously 3-0 up in the first leg of the [Carabao Cup] semi-final, you've got that to play next week and you've got this match [v Reading] and then the transfer window closes as well. What happens with people like [Facundo] Pellistri, people like Zidane [Iqbal] who's not really been involved at all? Are they going to stay here and help you over the course of the next few months or will you look at moving them to get some experience?
"We have our ideas and for some players we are open for loans but some players we are not because I think they have to develop first in our environment and second, we have many games to cover, and so we need players to cover that. When you play in 30 days 10 games, you need a lot of players."

Can you be specific about who? I said Pellistri and Zidane...
"The way we put [players] on, on Wednesday, Pellistri, that's already a signal."

In terms of Brandon Williams, he's a player that's had a difficult start to the season in how many minutes [he's had]. Is he someone you would consider loaning out or do you think you need to have strength and depth in that area?
"II think that also counts for Zidane, definitely also for Brandon. He had a bad injury, he's on the way back, he was in the pre-season for the restart and now he's in the squad. He was also in the selection for last Wednesday at Forest so he's really a part of it. It's also a little bit up to him but I like him. We have to work with him and see where his developments can go. That is also about him, to find the moment where he can deserve his chance and take his chance. But when he wants a loan, we have to talk about that."
On the subject of full-backs, are [Diogo] Dalot and [Luke] Shaw available? And also, do you think [Aaron] Wan-Bissaka and [Tyrell] Malacia have been getting enough credit for the jobs they've done for you? There's been a lot of praise for Dalot and Shaw but the other lads have stepped in very well...
"I think Aaron and Ty, they play magnificent in this moment. On Wednesday, they were really brilliant. The whole back four was brilliant on Wednesday. We are happy in the back four, we have depth in the squad. That's what we need when you have to cover 10 games in 30 days and hopefully it will continue after that as well."

Dalot and Shaw, are they available tomorrow or are they still out?
"Dalot definitely out, I think also Shaw [is] a question mark, so we have to see after this training, after this day if he is available or not."