Erik ten Hag.

Ten Hag: 'You see something is rising'

Monday 18 July 2022 13:57

Every pre-season game - including Crystal Palace (11:10 BST Tuesday 19 July) - will be shown live in our app and on

With Tour 2022 now in full swing, new United boss Erik ten Hag sat down with us in Melbourne to provide a flavour of how things are developing with his team.

The Dutchman reflected on the two wins so far, against Liverpool and Melbourne Victory, and assessed how well the squad are responding to his ideas.

He also explained why he has encouraged the club to sign Christian Eriksen and Lisandro Martinez, and why precision is so important in this summer's transfer window.
It's an intriguing chat with a man we're all keen to get to know better. Read on for every word from Erik...
Ten Hag: How we are progressing so far Video

Ten Hag: How we are progressing so far

The boss gives a tour update from training, praises his players’ character and has insight into our new signings...

What has spending time away with the players and staff allowed you to learn about the group?
“Yeah, you learn the characters and their behaviour tells you something about the character. That’s good to know. You work with them on the pitch and you know a lot of the player but then you also want to know the background of the players. That is ideal in a situation when you’re together for one week. That is perfect.”
The character and the background of the players, is that all good so far? You’ve learned good things about them?
“Yeah, definitely. It’s good to know and it’s good [to learn] what is the best approach to a player, because you want to [make them] feel comfortable.”
Tour gives you the chance to meet fans and learn how popular United are all around the world, so what’s that been like for you?
“That gives a real good feeling and I think also for the players that they get supported by many, many [people] all over the world.”
And what have your experiences with them been like in Thailand and Australia, in these new countries?
“I will say that we are busy. We are busy with the development of the team so we don’t have much time to get around, to look around, [to see] what is the culture, what is in the country, what are the people [like] in the country. We don’t have time. All the time we use and spend on the team.”
Do you have a better understanding now of how popular United are all around the world?
“Yes. You heard of it, but now I have to experience if it’s right and you know, you have that feeling that you have coming across. All the people, every time again when you enter the hotel, when you leave the hotel, every hour of the day. It’s unbelievable, incredible. A good feeling that we are Manchester United and have so many fans who support us.”
In terms of the matches so far, we’ve scored eight times in two games. How pleased are you with the way the team has attacked and taken their chances?
“The players in the team do really well and they respond well to practising, the exercises, to the game plan and to the principles we present on them. So you see something is rising. Are we happy with it? It’s a starting point. We are not three weeks under way, so there’s a long way to go and there’s a lot of room for improvement. We know that, but until now the guys do really well.”
Did the way we beat Melbourne Victory on Friday night please you? We conceded the early goal but we showed patience to get back into the game, against a side that was sitting back a lot. Does that show a quality that you’re looking to implement this season?
“Sure, and the attitude that you have to deal with setbacks. Of course, it’s not good that you are so quick in a game down [on the scoreline], but it’s important how you react as a team. We did well. Like you say, they were patient. They had to find out how to face such a team. They were really low and compact. It was difficult to create chances but I think in the second part of the first half, we came to three, four really good chances out of football and that makes me happy.”
Access All Areas: Melbourne Victory v United Video

Access All Areas: Melbourne Victory v United

Access All Areas | At Friday's Tour match, our cameras were rolling pitchside, at the tunnel and in the MUTV gallery...

Has the time you’ve spent so far out on tour given you a better idea of your first-choice line-up to start the season or is that coming together?
“No, I don’t think you can talk about [the] starting XI players. I think we need a squad. This is a season with even more games than ever, by the World Cup. You need depth in the squad, so we need more than 11 starting players and we are working on that.”
So is it a case of getting rhythm into certain players or do you want to get as many minutes into as many different players’ legs as possible? Or is it a bit of both?
“It is. You want to get in a way of playing and that is a long way, to get that in. You will not train it in, say, four, five, six weeks like a pre-season. Therefore you need also the games in the league, on the 7 August we need a platform where we can get a result out. That’s is what we’re working for, but from that point on we also have to keep developing the team.”
Has anything surprised you on the Tour so far, anything you haven’t expected?
“Actually, no. But it’s difficult before to make an idea. I never had the experience to do a tour and now I have it. I really like it, to visit those countries, such a long time away with the team abroad and I think the experience is good.”
You’ve brought in Mitchell [van der Gaag] and Steve [McClaren] your assistant coaches, linking in with some of the existing staff who were already at the club. What’s pleased you most about how everyone has gelled together?
“The most positive point is that, I think, in a good way we co-operate well. We always have to wait if that’s the factor, but it is. There’s a good spirit in the coaching staff and also there we have a platform that we can increase.” 
90 in 20: United v Liverpool Video

90 in 20: United v Liverpool

Catch up on the extended highlights of our entertaining first match on Tour 2022...

Christian Eriksen joined over the weekend and he’s a name that all English football fans are familiar with. How much do you admire him as a player?
“The fact that we get him, we have him now in our squad, tells everything, because I think we were really selective. It was not the point to get players in, but the right players in. I’m really happy that we succeed with Christian Eriksen.”
How do you feel he will fit into the existing squad?
“The expectations are there. That’s why we get him. I’m convinced he will fit into the squad and in certain facts of our game, he will help us. I’m looking forward to that.”
He’s a player with lots of experience, especially in English football. How happy are you with the balance that we have now in this squad, in terms of experience and youth?
“I think it’s quite good. What do you say? He’s an experienced player. He plays in countries abroad, in Italy, in Holland, a long time in England, so he knows the Premier League. It’s an absolute advantage that we have him in.”
Do you think the Old Trafford fans will really appreciate him? He got a round of applause playing there last season so do you think he will be a popular figure with the supporters?
“I think he is a magnificent football player and I think the fans will enjoy watching him, because he’s creative, he has ideas. I think especially our strikers will also be happy because he’s the one who can involve them in the game.”
We’ve also signed Lisandro Martinez. You’ve worked with him before so what can he bring to this United side, do you feel?
“He’s a warrior and I think the fans will admire him. He has an attitude, fighting spirit. He brings aggressiveness in the game, in a good way. I think we need that. But also, he’s also skilful and he can deal with the ball and he’s left-footed.”

Going off what you know about the Premier League, do you think that fighting spirit will help him to adapt really quickly?
“I think it’s important, yeah. I think the Premier League is high intensity, lots of challenges. We need such players. I know from South Americans... I call it grinta. Controlled, aggressive. You need that in your game and with him we have such a player.”
Do you think it’s almost easier for him from the start because he’s worked with you before, will it be quicker for him to get what you’re trying to implement here?
“Certain ideas, he knows them. That is an advantage, clear. But also he has to adapt, to a new country, a new club, new team-mates. So also a lot of things will be different.”
United fans will be looking forward to seeing them in action so when do you think they can be involved?
“Unfortunately we cannot have them here in the tour, because at the moment they arrive here we will fly back. So that doesn’t make sense. We cannot wait to involve them in our squad and the fans also cannot wait. Every year it’s the same as a trainer, you want your squad complete as soon as possible. But also fans look forward to new players and what is the squad and what can they contribute and they want an identification.”
We have one game in Melbourne and then after that we get to Perth, so how much are you looking forward to the next and final leg of the tour?
“I go from day to day and of course I have a plan in my head, but first the game is against Crystal Palace, and after that then we have still two training sessions and a game. For the moment, that is enough.”
And again it’s Premier League opposition, so it’s perfect preparation for that new season…
“I think so. We’re facing three Premier League clubs on this tour so I think it’s good for the team to deal [with]. Of course, most players know the level they can expect, but still pre-season is a good moment to face them.”

And finally, it’s one more game at the MCG. What do you make of that arena? It’s pretty impressive, isn’t it?
“It is, and I think we are not used to such stadiums. It’s a big pitch and the fans are quite far away. Everything is huge. It was a nice experience to play in that.”

Every pre-season game - including Crystal Palace (11:10 BST Tuesday 19 July) - will be shown live in our app and on