The second part of Erik's Q&A
Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag spoke to club media this week ahead of our pre-season tour of Thailand and Australia.
The boss outlined why Tour 2022 is important for his players ahead of the new season, and lauded the opportunity to connect with United's global fanbase.
Following the release of part one on Saturday, here's the second section of what the Dutchman had to say...
How important is it for you to come in and get a full pre-season under your belt in terms of getting to know the players and what do you expect from them?
“Yeah, you know the season, often at this level, you don’t have so much time to train. It’s the only part of the season it’s possible is in pre-season, the first two weeks of the season. After that, it’s becoming something of a rhythm, every three days is a game.”
Tour is always a great opportunity not only for existing first-team players, but also some of the younger players to make an impact. What advice would you give to any younger players coming on the pre-season tour?
“What I want to see is that they learn but also they show themselves because they have to deserve a position in top football. You have to deserve your position. It means you have to deliver every day, that demands a certain style, a certain way of life that they have to adapt to, that they probably don’t know yet. But I am really looking forward to seeing if they can do it. I hope one or two, they can prove themselves and they come into the squad but, if they want to enter the dressing room, they have to deserve it.”
There are some big games during the tour, including three against Premier League opponents - how much are you looking forward to that and those tests?
“It’s important, they are good tests, a playing level you have to face in every game so, immediately, you know we want to transfer our way of playing and we can test that. What I say is it’s really good to do that immediately against opponents who will then be your opponents.”
As well as the training and the matches, tour will be vital for you to spend time away from the pitch with the players and allow them to get to know you and the coaches, and vice-versa. How much are you looking forward to developing those personal relationships during the travel and downtime over the next few weeks?
“Definitely, to spend a lot of time together and do it with a lot of team football but there will also be time in locations not directly in connection with football, to learn about each other in a personal way as well.”
With the unusual situation of a mid-season World Cup this year, how vital is it that this pre-season tour is used to get players into the best condition possible for a congested fixture list?
“Yeah but it’s not different to another season as it’s always important in pre-season to get the players physically and also mentally fit and to get a team. What you are doing, of course, it will improve into the season, but you are setting standards and demands, high standards, make values, making rules, so you get organised to go into the season and it has to go further and further.”
What will you be looking for performance-wise from the players on tour?
“As always, the highest standards, you expect the max and, of course, there is still always room for improvement because we are in pre-season and we know that but we will play our best and demand the max from the team and the players every day, every training session and every match.”
Your first home game will be against Rayo Vallecano on 31 July. How much are you looking forward to seeing the Old Trafford faithful for the first time?
“Yeah, of course and, as I said, I met them in the city and feel the commitment, feel the fire and you want to give them the results and, of course, we want to also create an atmosphere in the stadium together and, together, we can create a winning team where the fans really like to see this football.”
Manchester United has a huge global fan base. How important are tours such as this one to give back to some of the club’s loyal fans on the other side of the world?
“Yes, I don’t know. I’m really curious how it is. Of course, what I know is that will be the case but I want to feel it and watch the experience.”
Tuesday's match in Thailand will be broadcast live on MUTV, with coverage starting at 13:00 BST ahead of the 14:00 kick-off*.
MUTV viewers will also have access to the short and extended match highlights before anyone else, as well as the full match replay. So what are you waiting for? Visit MUTV now.
*MUTV live coverage not available in Thailand due to domestic broadcast rights.