Every word from Erik's press conference
Erik ten Hag led his Manchester United to a 2-1 victory over Chelsea at Old Trafford, picking up an important three points in the Premier League clash.
It was a well-fought contest between the two sides, both looking to attack with pace throughout the game. A Scott McTominay double, notching one in each half, was enough to outscore the visitors' only goal, netted moments before half-time by Cole Palmer.
Following the game, the boss took questions from journalists inside the stadium on a triumphant evening at the Theatre of Dreams. Here's everything he had to say...
Is the biggest frustration about tonight that you didn't win the match earlier than you did, because you had a lot of opportunities in that game?
“Yeah, I think so, but not a frustration. In the end, we won. But we could have made our life much easier, when you could have scored three times in the first 30 minutes, because I think we started very good, very proactive, very dynamic, very brave. And we created a lot of chances in that moment. And we could have gone up with two or three goals.”
Erik, was that the reaction and the response you wanted and needed from Newcastle?
“Yeah, last week we played three games. The two times we play good, I would say against Everton, very good. And then one bad performance. But you see this team is in a good direction, is very good progressing and so we are pleased with that. And I know sometimes you have bad performance but then, still, you can get a result. That is the next step we have to make. When you stick together, when you have the right attitude, when you when you fight it and, even in bad performances, you have to collect points. So that's going to be the next step. But you see how we play, style, so dominating the opponent in and out of possession. That is the way I want to play. And so I was very pleased and for me it was very enjoyable, how the team today played.”
You’re now three points off Manchester City. What does that say to you about a season that's felt really like it's been in crisis from the start, and there’s now three points between you and the Treble winners?
"What’s the crisis?”
Well, it’s felt like that...
“Not for us. We are in a journey and we keep calm. We look into the process, where we know where we have to build, we know where we have to build on. So yeah, as I said, we are going in the right direction. We don't get distracted from criticism around us, but we are ourselves. We are very critical on ourselves. We know we are not quick [to be] satisfied and happy and we always want to do better. And if we do things not good, we want to put things right and we want to keep going in this process, and we want to keep going in this progress, because we know the season is long. We have to improve a lot if you want to be successful. But this team is capable to be successful.”
You often follow a really good performance like this with not the best. What's the key to being consistent if you play like this every game, what will help you do that?
“Always make sure you are team. You are co-operating. So when you [have] good co-operation, that's about communication. And you have a good organisation, in and out of possession. And then you are going to play well because we have brilliant players who can make the difference. I’m very pleased with the number of chances we created. And I think it was very enjoyable for all of us, for our fans as well, to watch us play and this is what we want. Every game, I know [it] is not possible because we are not robots. But if you play less good or you play poor, you still have to win.”
Antony, his performance level over the last week seems to have really improved. What's the key to that; coming out of the team, has that motivated him a bit more?
“I think it's a very good opinion. I agree, I think he's progressing as the team is progressing. But yeah, this is the attitude what he needs and what he has to contribute to the team. And he was very bright, I think he got very good positions on the ball. He make also very good decisions. And yeah, he's stepping up and and he has to build from this.”
At full-time, Scott McTominay said that you've been doing light sessions, which has been keeping the players fresh. Is this something new to help you with all the games you have to play in the summer?
“No, it's not new. We when have such a condensed programme, we always train very light. When you start the game, you want the players fresh and because I think we have a very good physical foundation and this team is capable of playing very dynamic, but they have to start fresh. So we do everything to get them fresh by very good recovery. They have to take responsibility in matters of sleep and and food, and then they are ready to play every game and to perform on their best. If their attitude is right, and we know that is our job, for me as a manager, with my coaches and the players, to get that right. And then I know this team is very capable to play very good football.”
Scott McTominay today, five in the Premier League. He's playing a lot more advanced than he has in previous seasons. Is this something you're trying, to bring him up more? To play less deep and to score more goals?
“Absolutely, yes. He has the skills and, when he is arriving and he has the skills to arrive there in the right moment. He has the snout. And then he has a very good finish. But talking about dynamics, sometimes he is deep and sometimes he is lower. But in our tactics, in our planning, our game plan is often that we want him to be high. So the team has to to make it happen, that he can come high, that he can come into positions where is around a striker and then he can make a run. And as I said, he has a very good smell when to arrive. And then he has also very good finish. And then the team has to make sure that we bring the ball with him.”
Is that hard, to make sure the team is making sure he's there and make sure that the extra space in midfield is not exploited?
“No, that is the plan and it's not hard. It's a matter of organisation. So we have to get the players in the right positions and that is our job to get him. But it means that other players have to play deeper and, but also bring them in their best skills. And it's all about that, to get individuals in the right positions on the pitch and that you make use from their skills and their attributes.”
That's your first win over a team in the top half of the Premier League. How much did you feel the team needed to win like that against the top-level opponent? How much belief can that give you for the rest of the season?
“Every win gives you belief. But we have strong belief. We have a strong belief we can be successful. But if you beat teams, then the belief will go stronger and that is going to happen. But you have to deserve it by yourself. Yeah, I'm pleased today with the performance and it will strengthen the team, and that we can build on from this, and it will strengthen the team, that we can be very successful."