Part one: Every word from Erik's pre-Palace presser

Friday 29 September 2023 14:27

Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag has held his pre-match press conference ahead of our second home outing of the week against Crystal Palace.

After a 3-0 triumph over the Eagles in the Carabao Cup third round on Tuesday, we are set to go head-to-head with the same opposition again at Old Trafford on Saturday afternoon (15:00 BST kick-off), this time in the Premier League.

Prior to the latest of our back-to-back meetings with the London club, Ten Hag fielded questions and you can read every word from the first half of the media briefing below, before section two is released this evening, upon the lifting of its embargo at 22:30 BST.

In part one, the boss is asked about the availability in his squad following earlier updates on Antony and Lisandro Martinez, opportunities for young Reds and more.

Part one: Press conference v Palace Video

Part one: Press conference v Palace

Erik ten Hag discusses Amrabat, Antony and absentees ahead of another meeting with Crystal Palace…

There has been two statements from United today: first of all, [about] Antony. What are your thoughts on the decision to allow him back to training, to play? And are you worried it might be a distraction?
"We made the statement, so I refer to the statement. I think we made everything clear in the statement. No, I don't think it's a distraction, we [will] focus on the games and he will as well."

The other statement regarding Lisandro Martinez - how frustrating is that for you? And your injury list, is there any improvements? Is there anyone back for tomorrow?
"We have seen some players back on Tuesday, and, tomorrow, back are the players who were out of the squad for Tuesday: Scott McTominay and Christian Eriksen. They are back."

Just in terms of Antony, did you have to think before you brought him back into the squad? People will have opinions about whether he should be there or not...

"I think we explained it in the statement, so I will keep referring to that."
In terms of injuries, you're not the only club who has got a lot of injuries at the moment... next season, the Champions League expands, there's the new Club World Cup coming in as well, there's more and more demands on players. How do you deal with that? Is it a bigger squad? Is it limiting the number of games players play? How do you deal with the players?
"We already did. We already expanded the squad this season because, you make the reason clear, we had a World Cup in the middle of the season, so we had a longer season. We had to play a longer season as well, [which ended in June with] the FA Cup [final]. [Then there were] Nations League games so it was a shorter break. Every time, the schedule is expanding and the load on the players is just too much. It's such a great overload. But many colleagues of mine are already pointing to that and I have pointed to that as well. But it kept going. We keep expanding the schedule. Players can't deal anymore with this overload and I think that is what you see across many squads in this moment."

The statement on Antony doesn't say when he will resume training and when he will become available - can you give us any clarity on the timescale and on his fitness levels?
"On Saturday, he will be back in the training. So tomorrow."

Are you comfortable with his fitness levels?
"I have to see, but I think [so], yeah."

A lot of fans will think you've got clarity on one player, the other player who has been in the headlines recently is Jadon Sancho - is there no chance with any progress with that at this stage? Are you tempted to maybe seek a bit of clarity with him, having sorted one player out?
"Many of you ask me so often these questions and I have said everything."

How long can that situation go on for then?
"What I said, I [have] said everything."

Ten Hag's team news for United v Palace


Erik confirms two players will return against Crystal Palace, as he is asked about Antony's availability.

I just want to ask you about Sofyan Amrabat - he had a really impressive debut on Tuesday, what do you think his greatest asset is? Is it his technical ability, or is it his energy and his stamina?
"As you say, he has more abilities. As a player on the highest level, you need a bigger skillset than only one but his stamina, his dynamics, I think is one of his biggest."

Against Burnley, you only had 38 per cent possession, that seems quite a small amount, especially after you history at Ajax of always having the ball. Do you think United need to have more possession and how important is Amrabat to that aim?
"You need not always so much possession to have control in the game because I think against Burnley, across the whole game, we had control in the game. But I prefer to have it, like against Crystal Palace."
As some of the injured players are coming back to the squad, you have more options in your squad. In these two games [against Burnley and Crystal Palace] you gave some opportunities to young players like Hannibal, [Facundo] Pellistri and [Daniel] Gore... in the future, with even tighter turnarounds between fixtures, will players have this chance?
"Depends on their performances, on the levels, what they show, if they can contribute to a winning team. And it's only about that. You play a team, you make a selection, based on the opportunity you win games."

How different will this game against Crystal Palace be to the one you played in the EFL Cup? Because the playing squads will be different, the starting XIs will be different, what are you expecting from them this Saturday?
"Definitely, I think both sides will be different. We got belief from it [Tuesday's win], but I know the opponent is looking for revenge, [that is] clear. That will be their fuel."

And in terms of just going on the young players, you mentioned on Tuesday night that the young players have shown you in training that they deserve to get the shirt, how important is that going to be during this period when you have got a number of injuries?
"You have seen it already, when you have players, when you develop players, you see the progress and that can help you in tough situations. But also, it is good for the club to develop such players, and for the players as well to get into professional football, to get into top professional football. So, it's great, I like it to develop young players. But as you said, the mentality must be right, you have to deserve the badge and, every time, you have to prove it. On every occasion, so [at] training, but especially in games."