Every word from part two of Erik's pre-Forest press conference

Tuesday 24 January 2023 22:30

Forwards dominated the agenda during the second part of Erik ten Hag's pre-match press conference on Tuesday afternoon.

Questions about Anthony Martial's fitness, Antony's form and Marcus Rashford's future were all put to the manager, as he briefed the media ahead of Manchester United's Carabao Cup semi-final first leg against Nottingham Forest.

And given that his side are potentially just three games away from winning the club's first trophy since 2017, it's natural that this prospect of silverware was also picked up and discussed.

You can read every word from part two of his pre-match press conference below...
Part two: Erik’s pre-Forest press conference Video

Part two: Erik’s pre-Forest press conference

Press conference part two | Ten Hag discusses Martial’s fitness, Antony’s form and Rashford’s future before Forest away…

Erik, Anthony Martial seems to be constantly injured. He plays a couple of games, injured, plays a couple of games, injured. Is there more to it? Is it a mental thing that he just can’t play through a knock or something like that?
"He is not constantly injured, he is playing games…”

But it’s two or three games and then he’s out…
“So he has to work on that. In that fact I agree. He has to be more available. He can’t do nothing for it in that sense, it’s sometimes also bad luck. But sometimes you don’t know also really the cause, what the reason behind it is. But when he is there, he’s really important for us because we play our best football when he is available. He has to be aware of that as well. If we want to be successful, we need him. And the first thing is he has to be available.”

With people like Harry Maguire, you’d have to break his leg to stop him from playing, because he has that mentality to always make himself available, no matter what little knocks he has…
“I don’t want to set that conclusion. What I said is that no one is the same. I can’t see and I can’t point to a cause, what it is, because if I had, I would work on that process to get it turned around.”
Erik, how would you assess Antony’s form recently?
“Dos Santos? I think… every time… he’s not losing games. When he’s playing [full games], the team is winning. That already gives a message of how well he is performing. He can do better, I see space for improvement. For instance, and I think also you know this, we want him to be more direct and be more involved. But as I said, the team is performing better if he is on the pitch. That’s a good thing, that’s a good base to build further. I think he has already made an improvement. In his first three games, he scored three goals. Now he was scoring against Everton, he was scoring against Charlton, so also that fact, he has an impact. But I think with his capabilities, with his talents, he can do even more. But as I said, I think he has [made] a good contribution in the team.”

Is he adapting as quickly as you had hoped? Sometimes it looks as though his team-mates get frustrated with him. He had that exchange with Bruno during the Palace game…
“I think that can happen. They are both players who play with the heart and when they bring that in the game, they are on their best so it’s always a kind of balance. And always between players, sometimes emotions flare up but I think in the second moment they are already good with each other so that is not a problem. I think definitely the players are not frustrated with him.”
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Erik, Marcus Rashford is in outstanding form. He’s obviously only got 18 months left on his contract. How important is it that the club keep him and how are contract talks progressing?
“The last I can’t answer. I don’t think… of course it’s confidential, the talks between clubs and players. I think he understands Man United is his club, that’s first, but also, in this environment, in this team, I think he is playing his best football. He’s improving and that’s about him because he’s working on the good things, he’s giving 100 percent energy in it, he has a good plan and I think also in this team he can bring in his qualities. So this team can help him get in the right position to score goals where he’s good at, so also in this team his qualities are coming in front. I think he knows that but definitely he’s important for us and if we want to get the success we want, we need him.”

Paris Saint-Germain confirmed in December they were interested in him. Do you think he’s absolutely at the right club and he can realise all his ambitions here?
“I hope all our players are getting interest from other clubs because it means we’re doing a good job and the team is outperforming, so that is what we are aiming for. Then I would say this is the best place to be because we want to construct the best team, first in England and then in Europe, and then in the world.”
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It's 40 years since the club last had a drought of this long, six years. Will you use this to inspire your players against Nottingham Forest and say, look, there’s an extra incentive here – we can end this trophy drought?
“Sure, I already said it. It takes too long that this club didn’t win a trophy. It belongs to the club to be winning trophies and so we have to get back on that track.”

It won’t bring any extra pressure then, if we look at it the other way, glass half-empty?
“Pressure belongs… I think we like the pressure and we need the pressure. That’s good. We have to deal with that. It gives us more motivation so that we perform even better.”

You mentioned the trophies you have won previously. For you, with your experience, how important was that first trophy and how important could it be in the process here? Because as you say, it’s been six years and that feels like too long…

“It gives you confidence. Once you are winning trophies, that gives you confidence that you know how you do it. And also in the difficult moments, how you stay in the game, how you stay in the game to win games, that you know the chances will come, that you know what you have to do for it, to get there. And I think finally winning trophies is mental, to get that, to know how you win that. Winning games is one, but winning trophies is another thing and in those decisive moments, know what to do. It’s a thin line but there I think we grow a lot mentally, but there we have a step to go.”