Every word from Ten Hag's press conference: Part two

Sunday 07 January 2024 22:30

Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag will be hoping to begin 2024 in fine fashion on Monday evening, as we travel to the DW Stadium to face Wigan Athletic in the Emirates FA Cup.

The all north-west affair sees the Reds pitted against the League One outfit in the third round of the competition, with the ultimate objective of going one better in this campaign following last season's final defeat against Manchester City.

Scroll down to read and watch everything the boss had to say in the second part of his media briefing for our encounter with the Latics...
Part two: Press conference v Wigan Video

Part two: Press conference v Wigan

Press conference part two | Erik is asked about Licha, Casemiro and van de Beek ahead of our trip to the DW Stadium...

Is Rasmus Hojlund still unwell or is he okay for Monday?
''No, he will return. He dropped out shortly before the [Forest] game, he was unwell for that game. The day before we expected him to play, but he dropped out shortly before the game. He is now back in training."

You obviously want Andre [Onana] to play in this game and the one against Tottenham, but you also signed another goalkeeper in the summer in [Altay] Bayindir who has still not played a game. Lots of reports are suggesting you have less confidence in him. Will he get an opportunity? Where is he at in terms of his development at the club?
''So at some point Andre will go [to the Africa Cup of Nations]. We are totally happy and we constructed this group of goalkeepers because we are comfortable with this and we have that confidence in them both. They are both very good goalkeepers, very experienced at the highest levels, so I think we can have a lot of belief that we have [enough] coverage. Not only coverage but also competition between the three [also including Tom Heaton] and so we are assured that if Andre has to go then we are good and we are in a good place with replacements to fill that gap.''

With Lisandro Martinez and Casemiro back on the grass, how quickly might we see their return?
''They are a long time now back on the grass already, but now they have returned to team training. Not fully but partial and now they have to make the next steps that of course takes some days, I think even weeks."
Do you sense from your meetings with INEOS, [Dave] Brailsford and [Jim] Ratcliffe, that anything could happen in January that would affect [the team] or is that something for after the window?
''So you know what is going on in the process, so what is going on, I have to refer to that.''

Erik, you said they have given you a few ideas on plans and strategies in the future. Do you expect these changes to come around recruitment which has been an issue for the club for ten years or so now?
''It is not up to me to share that with you.''

Donny van de Beek's move to Frankfurt has been confirmed. He was a player you know really well and was important to you and your team at Ajax. Do you know why it hasn't worked out for him?
''Yes, he has had many injuries and that is first of all. I have now worked two years with him and before he worked under different managers here as well. He had another loan as well. From the moment I came here at Man United, he wasn't the player I had at Ajax because he was injured and so many times he was unavailable. Then he struggled for a long time with recovering from that injury. So I think that is probably the main reason for why he wasn't playing. Then we decided on a loan in the summer and nothing came, then his opportunities were so few because also we made appointments and agreements with players and there was conflict in those positions, the competition was high.''
Are you ever concerned that players who want to come here look at situations like Donny's? He was one of the best young players in the world, he was on the Ballon d'Or shortlist and then he came to Manchester United and it just hasn't worked out. Do you fear other players look at it and think, 'I don't want to go there, I don't want to risk my career going in the same direction'?
''That is always on the players and what [kind of] confidence you have. Your capabilities. I can tell you one thing and that is that the Premier League is tough and at Man United it is tough to play here, because in every other team it is easier to play there because there is less pressure. It is so high and you have to deal with that. But if you have confidence in yourself, than I think this is the best challenge. Definitely it is the best club you want to be at and that depends from player to player, it is also about the character. The personality of the player.''

Erik, you mentioned that the talks with INEOS went well, but does them coming in create a certain amount of pressure and expectation on everyone at the club - yourself, the staff, the players - to now step up and take this club to the next level?
''So once again, that is not up to me. But from my talks I had a fantastic feeling after it. How their personalities and ideas affect the process they want to go in. So I am very positive about that and I am sure it will be beneficial to Manchester United.''

You have a game on Monday. How important is it now, given you only have one trophy left [to fight for], to be successful in the FA Cup this season?
''We still have the Premier League, so we have two trophies to play for. We will play for the Premier League and for the FA Cup.''
Erik, you said you are on the same page as INEOS. Can you elaborate a little more on that? Is it more about the philosphy or is it shared ambition for the club?
''I think it is too soon to share that and I don't think this is the place to share that.''

Having lost in the FA Cup final last year, does that provide a little bit more motivation this season because you fell so short in the end?
''It is a cup game, so it is do or die. So I like it but we have had this situation before this season and we have to be ready for the game. We had one game [last season] to decide the winner, and we were not [it]. So we have to make sure we get ready for that game and we will face an opponent who is 100 percent [ready] and will give more than 100 percent, as every opponent is going more than 100 percent against Manchester United. But especially this time and we have to be well prepared for the game.''