Erik: Cups are becoming more important

Friday 06 January 2023 11:00

Erik ten Hag sees the Emirates FA Cup as a 'high value' trophy, as he looks ahead to his first game in the competition as a manager.

United face Everton in the third round at Old Trafford on Friday evening (20:00 GMT) and Erik recognises the importance of the tournament in this country, as he used to watch the finals on television when growing up back home in the Netherlands.

In his pre-match interview with club media, the Dutchman also highlighted the qualities of two perhaps unsung Reds, while starting with the injury latest...

Erik, do you have any updates on the injury to Donny van de Beek?
“Not yet. We are still doing investigations. Once we have it, once we finalise this process, we will bring an update.”

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

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

Erik previews our Everton match, discusses the FA Cup and explains the signing of Jack Butland in his latest Q&A...

We wish him all the best and hope we can see him very soon. Anthony Martial also went off, so what’s the latest with him?
“He’s available but it’s different. He came off but he didn’t play that much in the first half of the season so we have to bring him slowly back into 90 minutes. He can play 90 minutes but [if we’re playing him] in a row of games we have to protect him so he can have the strength, the power to deliver over 90 minutes, every third day.”

It was really good to see Diogo Dalot and Lisandro Martinez getting some minutes. Is squad rotation going to be really important for you in the upcoming weeks?
“Definitely and we have so many games to cover. Sometimes we will rotate but also have a look at the opponents we will face. Tactical-wise, we can pick teams but definitely we also look to the physical load and the mental load for the players in the squad and the games we have to face.”

Luke Shaw’s goal against Bournemouth was a brilliant team move from back to front. How much better do you think the team is at moving the ball from the back now under your management?
“We’ve definitely improved that. We work a lot on that. We did in the last months and we still do it. You see the process and it’s good when you score a goal like this. You start with David De Gea and go over to the left side. Then there’s a good switch of play and you end up with the left full-back with a good front post run, from Martial freeing up the space. And his finish, Luke Shaw, it is a great goal. But I remember, at the start of the season, a goal against Arsenal when we came from the back to the front. Of course, I find joy in such team goals.”

Bruno is playing well, perhaps with fewer goals and assists this season that his performances deserve, but how happy are you with the way he’s playing?
“I think he’s an example. That’s also the reason why he oftens wears the [arm]band. That’s exemplified by his energy. He’s so good in transition, both ways, and that’s one of the key elements in today’s football. He’s so good in it and he gives so much quality in that part of the game. The team’s really happy with him and I’m really happy with him.”

To show the importance of the squad, Fred keeps making important contributions off the bench. His energy is really good it seems when he comes on…
“We emphasise a lot of times that we’ve often had players who score goals when they come on from the bench, like Fred did last week. Every time when he’s coming on, he’s ready. He’s front foot and he brings the right quality to the game. That is great to have that as a team and as a manager. Of course, Fred wants to play every game. That’s not always possible and everyone has to battle for his position but there’s good competition in the squad to play and to get into the starting XI, but once again we need those players coming from the bench and giving impact to the game. Definitely Fred is the one - there are others as well, but Fred is the example.”

Team news for Everton cup tie


The boss provides the latest on Anthony Martial in advance of the Toffees test.

Jack Butland is arriving on loan, what can he bring to the squad?
“After the recall for Martin [Dubravka], we had to react. We have so many games – we are not even halfway through the season – and we don’t want to get into a position where two goalies are injured or unavailable, it can also be suspension. Hopefully that won’t happen but we’re in a moment of the season where it’s about getting in the right position to hopefully win trophies and into the Champions League positions. If you miss goalies, you can’t replace them with inexperienced goalkeepers. That’s the reason, we want to avoid that. We are really happy, we have a really experienced but also really skilful goalkeeper in.”

On to the FA Cup, it’s of huge significant in England. Did you watch many games growing up as a boy in the Netherlands and do you understand the historical significance of the competition?
“Yeah, I always looked to the FA Cup final at Wembley as a great event. It’s massive. It’s much more important, I would say, than in the Netherlands, but in the whole continent, Europe took over what was in England. Cups are becoming more important, more significant in Europe as well. We had that approach with Ajax always. We wanted to win the double. Although the cup was not a big prize – because you are not entering the Champions League – it’s a trophy of a high value.”

How to watch and follow United v Everton


The Reds take on the Toffees in the third round of the FA Cup at Old Trafford on Friday.

Everton have had a difficult time of late. What have you made of their performances recently?
“It’s a really good opponent and we faced them once already in the league. It was a good game our side but at that time they were really on track. We faced them in the winter break [in a behind-closed-doors game] and they have great players and a great manager, so I’m sure tomorrow they will be highly ambitious to win that game. They showed [at the weekend] against City, where they had a really good performance and they got a point. It was well deserved. We know we have to be ready for that game. We know we have to put the energy in and we know we have to be at 100 per cent to win that game. When we are not, then we get killed. That’s not what we are aiming for, that’s quite clear.”

It's a Friday night, under the lights, the away fans will add to the atmosphere and it’s your first FA Cup game as manager. How excited are you for it and how big an occasion do you think it could be?
“It’s a great game, at Old Trafford. More away fans, which will make it a different atmosphere. We have already experienced that now many times, with the Villa game in the Carabao Cup and one of the Europa League games also, a lot of the fans of the opponent were there. It’s a nice atmosphere, I’m sure, but finally it’s about what happens on the pitch. Finally it’s about: do we deliver the performance? It’s all about that, it’s all about us and we have to be ready. We have to bring quality, the right performance and we have to win, because we want to go to the next round.”