Ten Hag: Old Trafford fixtures are always fantastic

Thursday 13 October 2022 07:00

Erik ten Hag can't wait to return to Old Trafford for Manchester United's Europa League clash with Omonia Nicosia on Thursday night.

The Dutchman waxed lyrical about our home support in his recent matchday Q&A, stating how excited he is to occupy the touchline at the Theatre of Dreams again.

United haven't played at home since 8 September, when we faced Real Sociedad in Europe, and will be looking to complete a double over Thursday's visitors, having defeated Neil Lennon's side in Cyprus last week.

Ahead of Omonia's first-ever visit to Old Trafford, Ten Hag addressed questions about Cristiano Ronaldo hitting 700 club goals at the weekend, Victor Lindelof playing 200 matches for the Reds, and more...

Matchday Q&A | Ten Hag on Omonia (H) Video

Matchday Q&A | Ten Hag on Omonia (H)

Erik talks about Ronaldo, Lindelof, the Old Trafford atmosphere and more in his exclusive matchday interview...

Erik, we’ve had just a few days since our win against Everton on Sunday. How has the mood been with the squad?
“After a win, the mood is always good but it’s the same for us [every week]. There are so many games, quickly after each other, and it is about 24 hours to celebrate and move on. That is what we do.”

We came from behind to beat Everton, and that in itself shows the confidence, and how every player in that squad never wants to give up and it must be a spirit you are very proud of?
“I think we are developing in a good way. I see it from the season the vibe is good. Also the way the vibe between the fans and the team is good and that is what we bring every day in Carrington and definitely always on gameday, and we are looking forward. We have now some home games and it’s always fantastic to play at Old Trafford, and we are really looking forward [to it].”
That mentality is great to see especially going into Thursday night’s game against Omonia Nicosia. Are you looking forward to it?
“Yeah. It’s another important game for us. We want to be first in the group. We are three points behind [Real] Sociedad and so we have to win. That is the first, and we have to score goals, that is the second. So we have to prepare for the game properly because we are playing against a tough opponent. They will be ambitious and they will be fighting so they are well organised. It’s not easy to score goals, we had that experience last week, so we have to be good.”

We had never faced Nicosia before previously, but obviously a week ago we did. Do you think that has helped understand the opposition a bit more to help with our preparation?
“I think it motivates the opponent also. But yeah, clear. But as usual we make a good gameplan and then it’s about what happens on the pitch. We need to be good, we have to have 100 per cent focus to get the right performance and the right result.”
There’s a lot of confidence and good feeling in the squad at the moment. Firstly, Cristiano achieved his 700th career goal which is phenomenal and it was lovely to see on social media him celebrating that with his team...
“It’s phenomenal. And football is [about the] team and we express this in a way – I think Cristiano, he knows we can’t do it without the team but I must say it’s a huge individual performance. If you achieve this, it’s incredible. 700 goals for a club and not many players even achieve 700 games, and he scored 700 goals. So I’m really happy for him, really want to tell you that and I congratulate him.”

Also at the weekend, Victor Lindelof celebrated his 200th appearance for the club. So he’s got plenty of experience of being a Red and it’s great having that experience in the squad to help guide the younger players too?
“Yeah, it’s not easy to carry the shirt of Manchester United and if you wear it 200 times that tells something. Then you can say Victor is a really important player in the squad. He had with me a really good pre-season. I was impressed by his performances as a left centre-half. He was really disappointed he fell out [of the team] after the game at Atletico Madrid and then he had to miss the start of the season. But he has done really well now that he’s back. He came back and in the last two games he played from the start and [has] done very well. So I’m very happy with that. What it tells us is that we not only need 11 players, we not only need a team of 11, we need a squad. If you want to win something, you need a squad to achieve that.”

Ten Hag reveals team news


Find out the latest from the Reds camp as Omonia Nicosia look set to be missing a key figure.

We always go to win in all fixtures, however a win on Thursday night would give us a huge stride in knock-out stage qualification, so it’s very important isn’t it?
“Yeah, so it is. And of course we want to qualify but also we want to be first in the group, so that means we are three points behind so we have to fight back to get over Sociedad. We have three games to go so it’s an important game tomorrow.”

We saw in Cyprus last week the atmosphere at the GSP and how that helped encourage Omonia’s squad. So you’ll be looking forward to having the home crowd there to help spur the team on?
“Yes, I have already mentioned how, I would say it is a long time ago when we had the home game, so we are really looking forward. The vibe in this moment I think among the fans in Old Trafford was amazing, so we want to get back to that. We [are] really looking forward to the game.”

It’s been a month since we’ve been at home playing at the Theatre of Dreams, I bet you can’t wait for this for the atmosphere that the fans create for the team?
“We have to bring the energy on the pitch. We want to bring a good performance. It’s a tough opponent, it’s not going to be easy, but we have to be ready for a fight. We want to win that game.”