Every word from Erik's pre-City press conference
Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag spoke to the media at his press conference on Friday afternoon, previewing Sunday's Premier League clash with Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium.
The recently named Premier League Manager of the Month for September is looking to make it five consecutive league wins when the Reds visit our city rivals, with our 3-1 home win over Arsenal on 4 September being the last time Ten Hag's side took to the field domestically.
Ahead of his first Manchester derby, the boss briefed the media across a host of topics, including team news, Harry Maguire, Erling Haaland, and more.
Read on to discover every word of the first part of Ten Hag's pre-match press conference...
"You see right, what we achieve as a group, we did it together. It tells us we are going in the right direction, but tells us further on nothing. [We are] that short in the season, we know there is a lot of space for improvement, we have to improve. But it gives us this positive that we are in the right direction but it also tells us we have to work really hard to get to a higher level."
Any injuries and absentees for the City game?
"We have injuries following [the international break]. Harry Maguire is injured and I think for the rest we have some doubts with Anthony Martial, but he was training all week with the group so I'm really happy with that situation. He is performing really well in training, he makes a good impression in training so we are also happy with that. And for the rest, only the long-term injuries like Axel Tuanzebe and Brandon Williams, they are not available."
"First of all, of course, I have to coach him, I have to back him. But I back him because I believe in him. In the period I have worked with him, his pre-season was good, I would say really good, in training and in games. Then he falls out [of the starting XI], but that is also to do with the good performance of the centre-backs that are playing now. But I can see the qualities and even after he was not in the team, he trained really well. But more importantly, the quality was really there and you see his career, he has almost 50 caps for England. With Leicester, with Man United, he's performing really well so what you see is he has a high potential. And then it's about him. The players in the dressing room, the coaches, the manager, we all believe in him. And now it's about him and that is what I told him. I'm sure he will do it and he will turn around, I'm really convinced of that."
"Our approach is first look to ourselves. And the approach for Man United is we want to win every game, and that message I've already told several times here. The aim for Sunday is nothing else. We have to perform our best and we have to put out of our way of playing, our rules, our principles, we have to do our best and of course we will make a good game plan and then it's about the execution, and we have to do it. We know that if we want to get a result, and we want to get a result, we have to do it 100 per cent well."
Erik, what do you know about the Manchester derby and what does it meant to you to be involved in it?
"I played in many derbies and I know what derbies, what they are. With rivals, what they do with each other, I think, and I know, it's the most important game in Manchester area for the fans. It excites me. You want to be involved in these games, because it gives a good vibe, it gives so much energy. You do everything to win that game."
"We don't play against Haaland, we play against Manchester City. They have a team and more than 11 players, but we do as well. We are convinced of our capabilities and if we act as a team in and out of possession, then you can beat such opponents. That is the belief, where we have to get with us when we line up, when we start the game and we need it over more than the 90 minutes."
I wonder, what are your thoughts on the mental health of players? What are your concerns about that and the responsibility football fans have?
"But it's [an expectation] of top football, it's an [expectation] of our work, so we set conditions for that as management. We also have experts around to help and to coach the players and the team in the right direction."
"I think he is doing quite well, but [for] every player, there is room for improvement. If he believes in his skills, he will be quickly back on the level, even more than he did. Once again, I am convinced of that, because I see his capabilities, it's really high."
You've gone from losing the first two games to being Manager of the Month. How would you sum up the progression to where we are now?
"Football is a daily rate, I would say. So football's all about the result and then the daily rate is the positive of negativity. I see it more in a pattern, I see it more in the long term. I think we played really good in pre-season, so then in the first two games, [we had our] head down. You see already the base we made in pre-season, then we win obviously four games [in the Premier League], so we are happy with that but also we still see lacks in our game, we have to improve and that's what we are working on, day by day ."