Erik’s training camp interview: Part two in full
Erik ten Hag has caught up with club media during Manchester United’s winter training camp in Spain and you can now see the second part of that interview in full.
The boss took some time away from the training pitches in Spain earlier this week to sit down with former Red Danny Webber to discuss the season so far, the World Cup, the months ahead and more.
The first part of that chat was released on Tuesday and now you can see the final instalment of the conversation, ahead of our friendly against Cadiz, to be broadcast live on MUTV later today.
Ahead of the 19:00 GMT kick-off, here is every word from the latter section of the boss’ exclusive training camp interview…
Coming back to the club side of it, obviously you’ve had seven months in the job now. If we go back to the Brighton and Brentford games at the beginning of the season, it quickly switched with the way the team performed after that. What were your key findings and how did you switch it around so quickly?
“I think it’s logical. When you change things in organisation and change the way of playing, that takes time. In top level football, you never get time. Opponents, they want to kill you and that happened. We had to quickly adapt, and I think our squad did terrific. The mentality changed and I think our way of playing changed during the season, the style, and I think we are growing, and we have to keep the process going.”
Do you think that Liverpool – obviously the game you won well – do you think that was a key game off the back of those two games to go into, with the rivalry between the two clubs and the intensity of the game itself?
“I think, definitely. So especially in the mentality, the belief that we can compete with big opponents. That we can beat them. That gives a certain belief in the group, that we can compete with certain opponents. It doesn’t matter which it is, because Liverpool is a really good team, a world-class team. So, when you beat them, you can take that belief into other games.”
The Tottenham game was one where from the outside it looked like the team was performing in a good rhythm. We won the game, would you put that down as one of the best performances?
“I think we played some more good games, like Everton away, Chelsea was a really good performance. But Spurs definitely. I think on that night, we played the best performance in this first 14 games in the Premier League. That is like the standard we have to build on and we have to progress. But by far we are now there where we want to be. If you want to compete for trophies, then you have to do much better in a lot of elements of football. That’s what we’re working for but you’re still in the fifth position of the league. I think we’re just in the right position. If we do the right things, if we work good, if we have the right plan, then yes I think it’s hopeful. It gives us a good idea of where we can finish.”
“We have to, because we have huge ambition and if you have, you have to follow the highest standards and you have to live them every day. That is the only way to get better and to get improvement in. As I said, I’m happy with where we are now, but I also see in football a lot of elements for improvement.”
You brought in the transfers in the summer, were they key personalities that you brought in because they are winners. You’ve worked with some of them before. Was that a key thing, having their mentality in the dressing room?
“Yes. We looked and with football players clearly that is the first thing, the capabilities a player has. The human being behind is also an important factor, but you can’t underestimate that. You need the right characters in your dressing room, not only if you want to win a game but if you want to win trophies.”
You can see that with the late wins, with the Casemiro and [Alejandro] Garnacho goals, there’s a never-say-die attitude that is coming back through the squad, from an outside in looking point of view, it looks like you’re on the right trajectory. Do you feel that?
“I have the feeling, we have the feeling, that we are in the right direction, but we also know that it’s still a lot of work to do for us here.”
“We had a plan, we have prepared the players with what the plan is so there can’t be any confusion about what the programme is. We make the players aware of the fact that, after you are out of the World Cup, you have to return to the club and the league immediately goes on. You have to be ready for that, but I think our players are used to it. Our players are winners, and they are battling now for the World Cup, and in the moment they are out - hopefully one is the winner - they have to deal with that. With the success they have, or the defeats, they have to deal with it and of course they have to be ready for another challenge.”
Of course, the transfer window is coming up and we’ve had a departure in Cristiano Ronaldo. How have you managed that situation?
“He’s gone and it’s the past. We are now looking forward and we’re looking to the future.”
Barcelona, you’ve never managed a team against them, is that something you’re looking forward to as well?
“Yeah, but it’s in the back of my head. First, we have a lot of other games to cover and I like the style of Barcelona. It’s going to be a great competition between us. We’re looking forward but as I said, there are a lot of games coming up and we are focused on them. In the moment itself, we’ll give it our best and make a clear plan. We have to beat them.”
What does success look like for you this season?
“First, we have to get the team in the position where we can win something. That’s our first focus. In December or January, no team wins a trophy. We have to get in the right position in April and that is what we have to work for.”
Ten Hag was speaking to us ahead of United’s winter friendly against Cadiz on Wednesday night, which will be broadcast live on MUTV and is set for a 19:00 GMT kick-off.
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