Every word from part two of Ten Hag’s pre-Wolves briefing

Wednesday 31 January 2024 22:30

Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag believes his attackers will benefit from the return of several key players both at the back and in midfield.

Lisandro Martinez, Luke Shaw and Casemiro proved their fitness after injury in our Emirates FA Cup victory over Newport County last weekend.  

Talking in Wednesday’s press conference, the Dutchman thinks consistency and stability of his starting XI could prove key in helping to improve results.  

He also addressed Marcus Rashford's situation and the role of a manager in supporting players.

Read every word of his embargoed press conference below… 

Part two: Press conference v Wolves Video

Part two: Press conference v Wolves

Press conference part two | Ten Hag talks about his forwards, plus Shaw's return, in his pre-match media briefing...

Did Marcus [Rashford] apologise for what he did last week? 
“As I said, he has taken responsibility. Case closed.” 

And just just still on that, do you feel as though he's testing your authority? Because it's it's been twice this season that he's transgressed. Also, he's joined up with a publicist who has deals with other players, Jadon Sancho and Cristiano Ronaldo, who've also crossed you in the past. Is that antagonistic of him?
“No. Nothing to do with the relationship between me and Marcus. But, as I said, maybe you have another question, otherwise we will pass it through.”

Just on a more general thing Erik, you talked about standards off the pitch - these days for modern players, how important is it for them to surround themselves with the right people? People who have got their best interests at heart rather than those who may lead them astray, and how, as a manager, can you have any influence on that? 
“First of all, the players on this level have to manage themselves. That is what you can demand from the player. A player has to know what is good and what is no good. When you want to play top football, it demands a certain way of life, always.” 
Do you feel as though you have to reinforce that message, not just in light of what’s happened…
“No. Come on. We are talking about top football players. I don’t have to educate them anymore, not when you are playing for Man United.” 

So they should know? 
“They should know.”

Erik, can I just ask how is this different to Jadon Sancho? Because Jadon Sancho was exiled for a social media post and then left the club. Marcus Rashford has gone out, partied until the early hours on the day he is meant to be training, and yet he is welcomed back in the squad. 
“What is your point?” 

Why does Jadon Sancho get exiled from the squad for what he did, and Marcus Rashford is welcomed back into the squad after what he did? 
“We can sort everything out internal[ly], but Jadon chose to go public.” 
Just in terms of Marcus's form on the pitch, Erik, how important is he going to be for you in the second half of the season to achieve your goals? Because when he is on form, when he is focused, he can clearly score a lot. He scored 30 goals last season.
“So as I said, you see the last two Premier League games, but also I think in the Wigan game, it was clear and you see the progress between Marcus Rashford and Rasmus Hojlund, and, especially now, the team behind in the back is getting stronger and that's growing. That gives, I think, a good spirit and mood in the team because those two and also see the progress from [Alejandro] Garnacho was very positive. We have a frontline, I think it's a danger and then, in the back, Bruno [Fernandes] and then the midfield, who is returning and getting more established. And then Luke Shaw, on the left side, is returning. So I think it's much [more] positive, and I'm sure when it is more consistent and stable in the back, then the frontline will get benefit from it.” 

Erik, just talking generally, sometimes a player may make a bad decision and he knows it and you move on. Sometimes players historically have made bad decisions, but there's more going on in their life, there are other issues going on that then end up coming out and help to explain some of their behaviour. Do you, as a manager, have to be aware of those things and make distinctions for behaviour if there's more going on than just maybe a reckless decision in a one-off incident?
“Yeah, of course that is part of the job, to support your players. But also, we have people in this club who are helping the players on that. But, as I said before, by the end of the day, when you are a player at Man United, you have to manage yourself and you have to take responsibility for your performance and your performance in a team and it's all about that. Man United is [about] winning football games. It's all about that. it's not so complicated.”

Erik's update on three Reds


The boss tells us about a trio of players striving to be back in action next month.

You say case is closed to protect Marcus Rashford, but isn't this part of the problem that there's too much protection of Marcus in this particular situation? And actually, if he understood, actually what he's done by you talking about it more, it might actually help him?
“I'm sorry. Jeremy, I responded on the questions. I responded on Sunday. We made the statement. I responded now. I think the case is closed.”

Are you concerned if you pick him tomorrow to start, that might send out the wrong message?
“I didn't pick him on Sunday. We draw the line and, from that point on, we move on.”