Every word from Erik’s press conference: Part 2

Friday 26 August 2022 22:30

You can now see the second part of Erik ten Hag’s pre-Southampton press conference in full below.

The manager met with journalists on Friday afternoon ahead of our trip to St Mary’s to face the Saints in Saturday’s 12:30 BST kick-off in the Premier League.

And you can now see the second half of that media session, which was embargoed until 22:30 BST this evening, and includes questions on our pursuit of Casemiro, centre-back options and the potential of Jadon Sancho and Marcus Rashford.

With Casemiro, was he always a target of yours throughout the summer because he seems to have just come from left-field and was done really quick, unlike let’s say the [Frenkie] de Jong thing, so I was just wondering, were you always keen on him, for a long time?
“We have a list, so we have options. He was always on, but we didn’t know if he would be available, so in the moment we get signals, we get proactive, we get it done and we are really happy with that of course.”

If you want him to play well for the team, what would you like to see from him, Casemiro, as a player?

“I think he is the cement between the stones, and he can let other players play really well because he is a leader, he is really good with the strategies and he can play a ball as well, he is really intelligent, he brings a lot into the game. He will help us, in between, he will be the link, a really important role and I’m really happy to have that role now occupied in our squad.”
Part two: Ten Hag's Southampton press conference Video

Part two: Ten Hag's Southampton press conference

Press conference | Part two of the pre-match huddle focuses heavily on Caemiro, Varane and Rashford...

Can I just ask what your reasoning was behind picking [Raphael] Varane on Monday, who is excellent of course? We know he is a great player from what he’s done in the past, but you didn’t pick him to start the season and whether it was also a difficult situation when you have to leave out your captain, having made [Harry] Maguire the captain?
“First, we have options and as you already said, Varane, his stature is immense. In pre-season, we had to build his physicality, so it was a bit of a slower start, and he was fit in the first games but in the first period of the pre-season, he wasn’t always, so we’re happy we built him in that way. You see that when the team needed him, he was really there and his profile, his stature, what he won in the past shows he can really contribute to this team. For the team, there is competition, and you need it, we have to cover so many games and we can do that in several constructions, see from game to game what we need. That can be a construction from Liverpool, but also in the second half at Brentford, we played with Varane and Maguire in the centre, so there are many options. I forget now about injuries, Victor Lindelof did really well in pre-season so I am happy he will be back on Sunday in the squad, so we will have another option. Internally, we have competition and that’s good and I think top teams need that.”

It's an awkward situation when the captain isn’t playing, you would expect the captain to play most games. So, that is obviously going to be a topic of debate and a very difficult decision for you…

“That doesn’t mean when you are captain that you are established to play always, especially not when you also have Varane in your squad.”
With Anthony [Martial] being out injured, is Cristiano [Ronaldo] available for selection this weekend? Is he fit?
“Yes. [To] both [questions].”

You wanted to start the season with Anthony Martial, how big of a blow has it been him being out of the team because he did well in the second half [v Liverpool] when he came on?
“Pre-season, he did really good, I was really happy with his contribution and that’s why I brought him in [against Liverpool], you can see what impact he can have on our game. So, definitely [we miss him]. But we have other players also who can play in that role and will do well. I never talk about players who are not available, we have to do it with the players who are there.”

Ten Hag's team news update


The boss brings us his bulletin on the squad ahead of the trip to Southampton.

Marcus started as a centre-forward and then you moved him to the left wing and he scored in the second half, do you see him more as a winger or a striker, or as someone who can play every role across the front three?
“I think he can play every role as you saw on Monday. It was really good to make that sub with Martial and add Rashy to the left because we know his inside runs are really dangerous and you saw it with the second goal.”

Ralf Rangnick always said how impressed he was with Marcus in training and said he wished he could transfer that onto the pitch, do you feel you’re going to be able to do that and was Monday a sign that could come?

“Yeah, I am convinced about that. From the first moment in pre-season, he impressed me, and I knew already before he was a magnificent talent and player, but he shows in every training session that he is really positive, has good energy, [his] pre-season was good, and I hope he will continue like this and be positive. With his movements, he will always create chances, the team will create him chances and he has to believe that he and the team will do that and it’s about getting the right finish.”

You can see that belief in him again?
“I’m convinced of that, that he can stick in that belief, yes.”

Ten Hag’s update on Lindelof


The boss provided the latest on when Victor could return to the United side following a recent absence.

Just on the captaincy, if Bruno [Fernandes], who is going to play most games, has the armband, does a point come where you have to say that he is the captain because he is playing most games?
“I’m not looking so far, we are only one game, we have a little group. Harry quite clearly [is in that group], Bruno is one of them and I think Bruno did quite well in his role with the captaincy, he was captain by example. He brings so much energy to the team, in and out of possession, so I was really happy with his role and performance.”

Just following on from earlier on Rashford and Sancho…throughout your coaching career, you’ve got a reputation of improving and developing talent, are you quite excited by the challenge ahead of turning Marcus and Jadon into the players everyone thinks they can become? There’s obviously a huge onus on them but do you feel you can have a big impact on their development?
“I will give my 100 per cent on that. We have to work hard, I have to work hard with my players, I’m confident they can do it and now they have to get that belief as well and you see when they bring that on the pitch, you can see which impact they can have. I was really happy that just they scored the two goals because I hope that will give them the push that they can do the hard work, they are really contributing in defence and pressing but also they contribute in the creativity, creating chances, finishing chances and that is what they are really good at. It’s about when they believe that, they will do it.”
You have said basically all summer that midfield is an area that you’re desperate to strengthen and now you’ve got Casemiro, Christian Eriksen, is that enough in your mind now and is that the balance you’ve been looking for?
“We have many options there now with Fred, with Scott [McTominay], Christian, Casemiro, Bruno, Donny, so we now have options there how we can outbalance the midfield, yeah.”

Is it somewhere you’d look to still try and address in this next week of the window?
“I think when you want to be – I know in this moment we are not the world’s top [team], that is clear – but the intention always has to be for Man United to look for better. So, good is not good enough, always go for better. That has to be the culture in all the club. Of course, on the pitch, that is the demand on the players but also in every department of the club.”

Following on from what you said there, do you think the players are receptive to that drive from yourself to change the culture, to make them realise that good is not enough?
“That has to be the standard, this is the demand, we have to go that way.”