Erik ten Hag in press conference

Press conference part two: Read every word

Saturday 02 September 2023 22:30

Erik ten Hag is expecting a "huge impact" from "brave" and "exciting" Rasmus Hojlund but believes Manchester United's new striker needs time to settle into the team.

The Danish international, who arrived from Atalanta last month, has been working hard on his fitness and is now ready for a potential debut in Sunday's Premier League encounter with Arsenal. 

The boss was quizzed on a range of topics during part two of his pre-match press conference, including comparisons between Hojlund and Manchester City's Erling Haaland, and whether the Reds are now ready for a title challenge. 

Here, you can read every word from the second half of Ten Hag's media briefing...

Part two: Press conference v Arsenal Video

Part two: Press conference v Arsenal

Press conference part two | Erik discusses Hojlund, comparisons with Haaland, our title chances and more…

[Rasmus] Hojlund was mentioned, but having worked with him now, having paid the money, what do you see in him perhaps that’s different to what you saw before you actually, if you like, signed the cheque? What's impressed you about Hojlund?
“Nothing different, I think, so far, but it's very short [the time that we’ve had him at United]. He didn't even play games, but now in the training sessions he confirms the impression we had from him when we scouted him. And also, same as I said about Altay [Bayindir], we really intensely scouted him. So yeah, he's acting very good this week. [He’s in a] very good spirit. He’s very motivated, of course, to start, to be in the team. He can't wait. And I think we did the right thing [by signing him]. But of course, I would have appreciated when it was from the first game on, it was not the case, but now he is fit. We are happy. He will definitely strengthen the squad and give a very good impact on the team.”

And you got him when the club were interested in Harry Kane and now you're coming up against Harry Kane in a matter of weeks. How do you view that battle coming up with Harry?
“I think we have a very interesting draw from the group, [in the] Champions League. All big, big teams, but [that is] as normal [in the] Champions League. Also, for those games, we're really looking forward [to them] because you get challenged on the highest level and it's great to face Copenhagen, Galatasaray and Bayern Munich.”

In the summer you said only Manchester City kind of have the right to talk about a title challenge? I think you remember that, you said to us. Now that we're sort of at the end of the transfer window and you've strengthened your squad, as the manager of Manchester United, do you have a different view, do you think now you are ready, your team is ready to challenge for the title?
“No, I say the same. I think all the teams around us, but seven or eight teams, they all strengthened the squad. I see very good players across all those teams, but I said that. So I said that in the prospect of, so City from the last five years I think four times champion and they won the Treble and that prospect I think then, there's the only team who can say and really target that [the title] and all the other teams they have to prove it.”

So you're saying you're not in the title challenge then as Manchester United this season? Is that what you mean?
“No, you don't have to say my words. I know you don't ask. But what I say, we as Man United, we have to win all our games. And that will be the approach. And then we will see where we can fight for and we have to get into a position [where] we can win trophies. But in this moment, don't talk about trophies in this moment. Talk about winning games and go from game to game and nothing else.”

The logical extension of having to win every game means you're in a title challenge, right?
“Yeah. But don't in this moment, don't get distracted from that because that is far away ahead of us.”

Every word from Erik’s press conference


The first part of Ten Hag's media briefing before Arsenal v United was dominated by deadline-day transfer questions.

There's obviously a lot of excitement amongst United fans about Hojlund, a Scandinavian young striker who bears obvious comparisons to Erling Haaland. Do you think he can cope with the pressure of being compared to a player like that, or is it unfair to make comparisons at this stage?
“I think he is. So I think it's a different character in our squad and that makes it really exciting. I think for the balance in the squad, it's very good and already we noticed that in this week when he came in, a different spirit is coming up and he gives that energy and so also all the players you see them get energy from it, so it's very good and just let him settle in, give him time. No player can act from the start. Of course, we expect a huge impact. But also he needs time to settle into the team, to settle into the way of play and the rest will come. I'm very confident of that.”

Obviously he’s new to the Premier League, so not a lot of people in England know him. Having worked with him, what kind of mentality has he got as a 20-year-old?
“He’s brave.”

Anything else?
“He's brave, and that's enough. He is brave and [he has] belief. The rest will come.”

Strikers at this club with a lot more experience that Rasmus have struggled with the expectation and the pressure of leading the line for Manchester United. It's one of the biggest jobs in world football. Was that lack of experience ever a concern for you when you were looking at Rasmus? And what have you seen within him that makes you think he can go out there and handle the pressure that comes with scoring goals for Man United?
“Because we scouted really about the skill, personality and everywhere he was so far he’s straight [away had] a big impact - in Austria, in Italy - but always you need time but it will come and I'm very convinced of that.”

Team news: Hojlund fit to face Arsenal


Our new striker's availability for Sunday's Premier League game has been confirmed by Erik ten Hag.

You were asked not too long ago about whether or not you believe there was a problem in your team's midfield and you said no, the problem is in the front and at the back. Are you pleased with how Manchester United are counter pressing at the moment?
“That is one of the reasons why I was not pleased with it, because the front didn't do their jobs, the back didn't do their jobs, and we got stressed and we have to improve that. We have to play more compact, otherwise you can never do counter-press and in the midfield is swimming.”

When you say compact, do you have a problem with how your team retreats?
“I had a problem first with the rest defence, how they moved and I had a problem with the responding in the defence transition from our offensive players.”

Is this a problem with the mentality, the fitness?
“It's definitely mentality, I mean definitely attitude.”

How do you look to improve this attitude?
“Demanding matching standards, that is what I demand. And last year they showed they can, [they] did it almost in every game. So I expect [it] this season even more. So we can't make compromises in that because then you are vulnerable and you don't win games.”