Every word from Erik's press conference

Saturday 02 December 2023 23:01

Erik ten Hag saw his Manchester United side lose ground in the top-four race with a 1-0 defeat at Newcastle United in the Premier League.

The Reds were admittedly second best for much of the contest, settled by Antony Gordon's far-post tap-in the second half.

After the game, the boss faced journalists' questions in the media suite at St James' Park and this is what he had to say on a bitterly cold, and bitterly disappointing, night in the north-east...

Ten Hag: Newcastle were better than us Video

Ten Hag: Newcastle were better than us

Erik ten Hag acknowledges the Reds were second-best at St James' Park, despite bookending the game with good chances...

The team haven’t won against a top-eight team away from home for more than two years, why is that?
“So, I was waiting for that question. So we are always [having] issues. I know it’s your job to see that. We have the away form or we have the home form. We have this issue and we have to overcome this issue. It’s the truth. Today, I have to say credit to Newcastle. After the start, where we could have scored with Alejandro Garnacho, they were better than us, more proactive. We had to go behind, to go back, and we had to defend. We did that but, yeah, we allowed them one goal. In the end, we fought back, had two good opportunities, but we couldn’t take a point from here.”

In the first half, you were unhappy with Anthony Martial and he argued back at you. What was the issue with him?
“It’s not about Anthony Martial. It’s about the team. You try to energise the team, you try to get a reaction from the team, at this moment. You see we had a tough period so, in your coaching, you are a little bit more aggressive and that is normal.”

You have injury problems but was that first 80 minutes acceptable from a Manchester United team?
“No, if you lose, you’re always unhappy. You talk with the team and about the why [that was]. I am sure this team is resilient, we have to pick this up. This team has the experience and we have to get ready for Wednesday, the next game, and don’t stay too long on this game.”

Marcus Rashford is really out of form. There’s no denying it. Is it a matter of he’s out form due to a psychological issue, does it go deeper than that, so will you have to have specific words with him? Does it concern you that he was so high last season but so far off that this season?
“Yeah, I know the issue is coming up but Marcus is investing a lot. We support him. He will return to his form.”

It seemed like you stepped forwards against Everton and even Galatasaray so what is the reason for this big setback after two relatively good performances?
“I will talk with my team about the reasons but we have to do better and, as I said, I am sure they will pick this up and I am sure they are resilient. They have the character to do this.”

You say you’ll talk to the team but are you just hoping they get better or do you believe they will get better?
“No, I’m not hoping. I’m sure. We have seen good performances, in this week against Everton and Galatasaray. You always want that you play, every game, a perfect game. We have so many games in a short period and you can have also less good performances and now we have to pick this up.”

This is the same with Marcus as well, watching him he doesn’t seem himself?
“I repeat myself but he works hard and he is investing a lot. He will get back. He will recover and will get all our support.”

You mention Marcus is investing a lot and working hard but, in the first half, he wasn’t tracking back and was 60 yards behind the ball. Is that frustrating as a manager, that he’s not tracking back?
“I don’t go into individual performances.”

Newcastle 1 United 0


Anthony Gordon's second-half goal consigns the Reds to defeat on Tyneside.

You had two centre-backs on the bench but Luke Shaw played in that position, which he is not familiar with. What is the point of this decision?
“Tactics. We wanted to create full-backs with a lot of overlaps, underlaps in attacking. It didn’t go up but that was the idea, to have fresh full-backs. Aaron [Wan-Bissaka] played one game, not the whole game, Diogo [Dalot] played at Everton and came on in Istanbul. Luke Shaw is returning from an injury and we didn’t want him to play as a full-back but this was the idea, as a centre-half. The centre-backs did very well, Harry [Maguire] and Luke Shaw together. That was clearly the idea, to get him in, in the left centre-back position, to construct opportunities and that Diogo can go higher.”