Erik ten Hag

Part two: Every word from Erik's press conference

Saturday 10 February 2024 22:30

Young players was the main theme of the second half of Erik ten Hag's press conference ahead of Manchester United's Premier League clash at Aston Villa.

The Reds make the trip to Villa Park on Sunday for what promises to be a tough test against Unai Emery's side, who are fellow contenders in the race to secure European football next season.

Ten Hag was asked about Casemiro’s influence on Kobbie Mainoo’s development, managing emerging talents, Alejandro Garnacho’s role and more.

You can read everything the manager had to say to journalists in part two of his press conference below…

Part two: Press conference v Aston Villa Video

Part two: Press conference v Aston Villa

Press conference part two | Erik discusses Garnacho's position, Casemiro and the faith he has in our young players...

The re-emergence of Casemiro must be very important to you after his injury problems. I wonder how important that is to you, the significance he could have for the rest of the season? And the second part of my question would relate to the influence he would have long term on Kobbie Mainoo and his development?
“Yeah, you can see it. We missed for over a long period very important players like Casemiro, like [Lisandro] Martinez, like Luke Shaw. Also others. We discussed that often, but you see the impact from a player when he's there, like Casemiro. He gives you calmness and composure on the ball, and he gives you options. He does see the vertical pass so he's always a step ahead of his opponent and can break lines. And then we talked just about the offensive [players] and what they need, how they have to serve. But then Casemiro is a very important player for our game. So yeah, happy he's back and yeah, for Kobbie Mainoo he can learn a lot from it, that togetherness, that bond also. Kobbie is very coachable and Casemiro has so much experience and Kobbie will learn a lot from it. That can even accelerate his development, so yeah happy to have him and when they can play together, I think they can take benefit from each other.”

Just to follow on from that, does Casemiro perhaps talk to Kobbie? I mean, do you see them chatting? Is there a relationship there? Kobbie will clearly look up to him. Do you feel that there's a bond perhaps developing there?
“Absolutely. Casa [Casemiro] he takes also that responsibility. He’s taken to him, he’s talking to him. I see it in the dressing room, I see it on the pitch in the training, also in games. Of course he's looking at his own game, but he's trying to help and to support Kobbie Mainoo, yeah.”

You've spoken about the Premier League's financial rules and spending rules a few times recently. It's clear how important Champions League revenue next season is to your transfer budget. I guess in the summer, does that make it more important beyond just the footballing reasons to get top four? Is there a danger that if you miss out, it kind of sets this project back years because of the financial knock-on effects going into the summer?
“Yeah, it’s very important to play Champions League. That is clear so we don't have to discuss this. And what is exactly the impact in this moment, I don't know. But yeah, of course you have more financial power when you were achieving the Champions League. And so that is all our target, absolutely.”

Usually when a Manchester United manager has introduced young players to the team, Alex Ferguson, for example, he was bringing them into a successful team, a team that was winning Premier Leagues, a team that was packed with experienced players. Do you have to be more courageous as a manager to put your faith in young players, when the team maybe isn't performing so well on the pitch?
“Yeah, it's more easy to bring, to integrate young talent into a successful team. That's true. And so the conditions where we had to bring Kobbie Mainoo in that moment, it was not. So it was not really that, you know, on forehand that will be a success. I had that confidence because I saw him performing. I saw him performing in autumn, I saw him progressing during spring and in summer I had that game from Arsenal in my mind, so I didn't have any doubt. But when he's coming in the team, he has to do it, many things he has to do on his own because when there are a lot of routines in the team, it's much more easier to come in. That's true, but we are not in that situation. I think this club is already not in that situation for a long time. So for many years, Manchester United is not in that position and so we are now building a team that can really offer a foundation for players to come in. We built a foundation that really can add quality players into a squad that brings the team to the next levels.”

Southgate's praise for Mainoo


The Three Lions boss is impressed by what he has seen from United's teenage star.

Do you also have to be careful as manager not to overplay them, that there will be occasions where you have to bring them in and out of the team?
“Yeah, but that is also what I did. For instance, I brought him [Mainoo] out on Sunday because it was the third day of the second game in nearly three days. I brought him out against Nottingham Forest, I think that was the third game in a week. Yeah, I have to protect the player because first he has to get used to the Premier League intensity, and then he has to get used to doing it every third day. Yeah you can't train this in training, it’s impossible, or you can't train this in games from the Under-21s. You can only train this in the Premier League or Champions League when you have to perform every third day. And then you have to make considerations, it's about the team, the team result, but also about protecting players that they don't get injured. Kobbie was twice injured, so we don't want to come into that situation again because that stops his progress.”

Keeping it on sort of youth, [Alejandro] Garnacho's been playing on the right more often recently. How open was he to playing there and what do you think he brings to that role? And also speaking of mentoring, what can he learn from what Marcus Rashford has done on the left-hand side, which is obviously the opposite side to his normal one?
“Garnacho is right-footed. He's very good with left, but also function with his right.”

And in terms of the first one, what's he bringing to the role on the right? Is it, you know, obviously having an effect with his goals and more in the team?
“So Alejandro, so natural he prefers to play on the left as well. But now, he finds his position on the right as well which he’s doing very good and also quite fluid. He finds his spaces there but yeah, he can do both which is great. Not every player has those abilities and some they really have a preference. That is what is great of the game of Alejandro Garnacho, that he is a player who can be fluid and can play both positions. Even in inside positions, he feels very comfortable and he can have a big impact on our game and on the end product.”