Every word from Ten Hag's press conference: Part two

Tuesday 27 February 2024 22:30

Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag reiterated his focus is on the task at hand when the pre-match press conference for our Emirates FA Cup fifth-round tie at Nottingham Forest entered its second section.

The attributes, confidence and form of Antony - the Brazilian winger he brought to United from his previous club Ajax - were also big talking points, as you can read and watch below...

Just to confirm, is Victor Lindelof okay because he seemed injured at the end of the game the other day?

"He's okay. He's available."

And just on Antony, obviously at the start of the season, he came out of the squad due to his personal situation. Do you still think that's affecting his form and it's the mental aspect of it that has been a big barrier for him this season?

"Not anymore. But definitely it has had. And so now he left this behind. But for a moment in the season it had absolutely an impact on him. And you could see it in his performance, in his attitude. But now he's back. Of course it affected him and the process is still going. Now he has to turn the point and to bring his big potential again. And therefore you have to fight and you have to give every day the maximum. And I see in the training he's doing that. So yes, he will turn the corner."
Part two: Press conference v Forest Video

Part two: Press conference v Forest

Press conference part two | Ten Hag is asked about Antony, Sir Jim Ratcliffe and more ahead of the Forest cup tie…

Erik, when Sir Jim Ratcliffe did his interviews last week, he was asked about you and he said it would be inappropriate to discuss your future. But with that in mind, do you feel personally that you're on trial, if you like, for the rest of the season, and that in a sense, you have to prove yourself to him and to the new owners effectively?

"No, but I want to win every game. And so I know also I'm in a process so I know what I'm doing. And as I just said, I have had many talks consistently. We have talks and we're talking about the future. We're talking about a future together so yeah, I'm focusing on those two points. To progress the team in this moment, every time to the next game, and to think about the future and do that in togetherness."

Erik, you just talked about Antony there, saying he's unstoppable when he's on the top of his game. Obviously he was very good for you at Ajax, and he showed glimpses last season. Why is it this season that he's not been able to perform to that top level? Is it just about the outside case, or is it something else that's been contributing to it?

"It started with that outside case and then he didn't play like he should be. So pre-season, I think he played very well. He scored two goals in pre-season. But after the first games, when that issue was in Brazil, he came back. He wasn't anymore the person like he was before. And that did something with his belief. And one of the big skills from Antony is that he's very brave. So he has to find that and that's up to him. We will support him, absolutely. All staff, me as a manager, I support him and I have 100 percent belief in him. I know what he is capable of. And I have seen his moments. I have seen that for Ajax. In 82 games, he scored 24 goals and had 22 assists. And he was performing in the Champions League. He was unstoppable. Also we have seen here, in his first three Premier League games, he scored three goals, so he is capable of it."
New owners coming in always generates talk about lots of changes and what changes might happen at the club. Would you find it beneficial if Sir Jim came out and said beyond any doubt, you are going to be the manager at the start of next season, because that way the fans would know, the players would know, and the noise would then just disappear?

"So I am here. I am on the contract for three seasons, so I don't care. I am in this process. I'm only focusing on the process. So I don't care what's going on around me. And yes, I have many talks with Sir Jim Ratcliffe, especially also with Sir Dave Brailsford, and others in that group around. So I know what we are talking about. I have a strong belief and I feel that they believe me."

Erik, once again, we're talking about a big week. We're talking about a big game. We're talking about the last chance of a trophy this season. It's been a stop-start season. There have been questions about your future. Does that kind of talk grind you down, or is it part of the job to handle that pressure and to be strong?

"I'm not thinking about it. It's not about me. It's about the process. And I have to manage the process. So I'm not focusing about my personal circumstances. I am just focusing on the team. And I have to find solutions for the teams so that they perform in the best way they can. And it's all about this. Focus on that and don't get distracted by any noise or whatever. And I think that is for you, for the fans to talk about maybe. If you talk about one defeat and then the manager's position is in discussion, I think it's quite opportune after two months without a defeat. So I can't pick something from this, I can't take it seriously. I have to stay focused, again, on the team and on the team's performance."
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...

You're only human, though. It's only human that you would know that it's not nice to work in these kind of conditions...

"I know it doesn't change. So it would be a problem when the leadership in this club has this approach or others would have this approach. But then still I focus on the process. But that's not the case. And we we are together there."

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer used to say that at Manchester United, more than any other club, everything is based on one game. So you lose one game, everything's rubbish and everything's wrong, and you win a few games and everything's going in the right direction. Have you found that quite startling? Would you agree with that?

"Winning is normal here. So there's a difference [with other clubs]. It's normal, we have to win. And players have to understand this. The manager has to understand that. I understand the criticism when we don't win, that the criticism is coming. And so, as I said, some of it's true, but also many opinions are untrue and we don't go into them much. It's about the truth we have in here. And so it's our truth that's important. And how we work together."

Every word from Erik's press conference


See the first half of Ten Hag’s Tuesday media briefing in full, before United’s FA Cup visit to Forest.

Is Antony really one of the quickest players of the first ten yards? Because very politely, to my eyes, in the one and a half seasons I've observed, one of the things he doesn't seem to have for a winger is pace. It's very rare I've seen him beat a player. So you really would stand behind that view that he's very quick?

"I noticed that but maybe it's that he's not showing it."

But how can you not show pace, because that's just like a natural release isn't it? I understand the confidence thing, I get that. But last season the case wasn't about. So what happened? He didn't seem to be very quick. He seems actually slow, one- paced for a winger...

"I thought the goal against Arsenal and the goal against Everton were two things where he was very quick. So I said, in the first ten yards, I don't think there's a player quicker than Antony."