Ten Hag's press conference in San Diego
Erik ten Hag has held a press conference in San Diego to preview Manchester United's back-to-back Tour 2023 fixtures against Wrexham and Real Madrid.
A youthful Reds team will face League Two outfit Wrexham at 03:30 BST on Wednesday morning, live on MUTV.
Ten Hag will then fly to Houston to manage the senior group in an exciting encounter with Real Madrid, which you can also see on the club channel.
Read what the manager had to say in a press conference to preview the games...
Can you tell us, first of all, how Amad Diallo is please?
“It's not too bad. And today he was running again, not involved in the group, but we hope he can join tomorrow in the training.”
I know we asked you about Avram Glazer on Friday, but he was obviously at the game on Saturday. Have you spoken to him? What kind of conversations have you had with him afterwards?
“Afterwards, I didn't speak any more with him after the game.”
Erik, can I just ask, these tours involve a lot of travelling. How do you find preparation? Is it too much? Would it be easier just to stay in Manchester? Because we know Man United's global brands, so you have to travel around.
“It's about finding a good balance. And football is one, two, three. And so football is making the schedule, but also, you have to know, what you say, we are a global brand and we have to sell the club. We want, also, to come to our fans and our fans are all over the world. So we want to show ourselves there. For ourselves it is also a fantastic experience and you are for two weeks away. And I think it's a big advantage that you are for two weeks with the players, to really build the team spirit. Also, with the staff the co-operation in between the staff towards the players. So, it's a great opportunity to strengthen that and that's what we're working on. So, I think it's really useful.”
Erik, I’m just wondering what kind of side you're going to be putting out tomorrow, what kind of players we'll see? And also, have you watched the Wrexham documentary?
“I didn't watch the Wrexham documentary, but I know them. We played them last year. I know they got promoted. I have, of course, I've seen the the actuality and the way they play in this moment. I know the players and we will face them with the Under-21s team, but we will strengthen the Under-21s with some players who are on the tour with the first squad.”
We make progress, yeah, but you know how it works. When we have him, we will tell you.”
Jadon Sancho has been playing as a false nine. Is that something you're looking at in the future and how do you think he's been performing for the pre-season?
“He is doing well, also in that role. I think Jadon is the best in positions in central positions where he can get involvements and also when he played in wide areas. But, you know, when you're playing with me in the wide areas, in the right setting, you also have the freedom in the right setting. So it can be right to be inside in [number] 10 positions, in central positions, but also when you are in such positions you have to make runs behind because that is very important to our way of play, that we have many players who run in behind.”
You play here in San Diego and then you have to travel to Houston on Wednesday against Real Madrid. Is that going to be tough? And, also, to follow up, with Andre Onana signing for Manchester United, are you excited to work with him again?
“Yeah, it's tough, but it's also the Premier League. You have to travel. We qualify for the Champions League, you have to travel. So also that is what we have to get used to. So yeah, we do that. It's no problem. And we programme that really well. So the preparation is top and then the players are fit to play the game. And with Andre, of course I'm happy he's here. And so we integrated really well in the team. So yeah, it's fantastic. He's there and everyone is really happy in the club.”
It's two quick ones for me. Can I just get confirmation on where we stand with Anthony Elanga and Dean Henderson, please?
“No place in our squad. And again, when we have news, we will tell you.”
I don't know if you have seen, PSG have been offered €300 million for Kylian Mbappe, which they are going to accept. But there's talk that if he rejects that, then PSG would be open to a loan offer. Would that be someone you'd consider or is that completely out of the question? And, also, your view on such such a huge fee?
“No, we never speak about players who are under contract in other clubs.”
Would you like to?
“When I want to, I can reach them.”
And just on the striker situation, are you confident with having a new attacker or striker in the first game this season against Wolves?
“I think what I can say is we will do everything what's in our power to get that done. And, to me, yeah, as soon as possible. How early, the better, because we have to integrate them in the team, in the way of play. So, in an ideal situation, he was already here. But you're not always getting ideal situations as a manager and you have to deal with the situation.”
Marcus Rashford scored 13 goals last season. Huge leap from the previous season. How confident are you that he can reproduce those figures next season and be up to 25 plus, 30 goals?
“When his attitude is right, then he will do that. It's not easy and the team has to play well to put him in the right position. And when the team is playing well - so we'll say when we keep the rules and principles in our way of playing, and the resulting attitude is right and he puts himself in the right position - he will finish because he has great abilities when he's in the box, he's clinical and he's ruthless. And he scores goals with his right, with his left and with his head.”
Do you need more goals from the rest of the team?
“Yeah, so we're under-performing and we are aware of it. And so others also have to contribute in that area, but therefore also we are looking for scoring abilities. And I think with Mason Mount already we have a player extra who is capable of not only scoring goals but also to create and to place Rashford in the positions so we can score more goals. But there's a whole team where we have to score more.”
“I'm really excited, but unfortunately I didn't see anything so far except from the air and from the plane and San Diego. So I'm looking forward. Hopefully there is some time to see something.”
Anthony Martial is an obvious option for you as one of your forwards. Can you give us an update on him and when he's going to be starting training again? And is it a frustration? You obviously started with him last pre-season as one of your main strikers...
“Today he was in the team training, so that is really hopeful. And, yeah, of course, when you have player in a squad you expect that he is available and then the players have to take the responsibility to be available. But when he's not I have to deal with the situation and we show that we also then can be successful without that striker. But yeah, of course, it's more easy when you have that striker in your team because I think every club who wins big trophies has scoring abilities in that team.”
Is he set as part of your plan for this season?
“We need a good squad and Anthony Martial is a brilliant football player and so he will help us. He scored goals and also in other areas of football like pressing, in possession, combinations. He's a great player and, yeah, let's hope he will be fit and he stays fit.”
You just mentioned the squad there. You can have four competitions to play in again next season. Is it a case that if you get one more player, you'll be happy with the size of your squad? Or would you like to see more change between now and the deadline?
“Let's first, one by one. We strengthen the midfield department. You have the keeper situation and we sorted that out. Now we want the front player in and then we will see what happens.”
Do you feel like you've got enough players to cover it? Because you played an awful lot of games last season and there were spells where you didn't have the option that you wanted...
“Yeah, from quantity, I'm sure we have enough players to cover it. And so I'm also happy with the development of some Academy players. And also we need positions free that they have the opportunity to deserve their position.”
With all respect to Wrexham, what can you realistically hope to gain by playing a team of that calibre?
“For us it's a very good game because I just mentioned the Academy players, so it's a great experience for them and it will help them and will support them to to flow into the first team. And so in that respect, it's a huge game. So, really good opposition. It's in the USA, so they have to travel. It's very good for their education. So they have to deal with the pressure. Then the stadium is sold out with a fantastic ambience. The players are really looking forward to it, the game is broadcasted so it's fantastic experience for the young players and that we can present this to our young players. So I'm really happy that that that we can do that and so great opportunity.”
Playing in San Diego tomorrow and Houston on Wednesday. Do you enjoy the travel and getting global exposure to your sport, or is it more of a pain in the neck?
“No, I tried to express in the first question. I think it's very helpful when you travel together for two weeks. I deal with the juniors. You get fatigue from it. But in the Premier League and in the Champions League, you have the same and you have to deal with it. The fans expect a performance. And so we have to deliver. So we have to be fit for that. So the players have to live along the right rules to get it in. So after the right lifestyle, it's about food, about sleep, doing the right things in training, making sure you are doing the right things in recovery, make sure you have the right team spirit and then it is a really good experience.”
Jonny Evans has been around the squad for a short time now. What impression has he made, particularly on the younger players and what are the chances of him getting a longer-term deal at United?
I think he helped us, as you said, younger players, but also for the numbers here. Not all of the internationals were in and then we have to manage the load from the players. So that was really useful. And Jonny wants to stay fit. He wants to still have a career. Last week, I think he played a very good game against Lyon and you could see how he was mentoring the younger players and I think he was pushing the younger players to a higher level and that can be really helpful. So I'm happy, we bring him now in. He will be tomorrow in that game. So I'm happy he wants to do that and I think we help him as well.”
Obviously, with Bruno Fernandes now coming back with the captaincy, what are the added expectations of such a top player knowing his qualities and what are the expectations for that midfield overall? Obviously adding Mason Mount as well...
“The captain is not only wearing the band but also make sure that team keeps connected and that we have the right spirit. If you have the right winning attitude. So, you need to have inspirational skills, you need to have the authority, also you need game understanding to transfer the rules and the principles from the manager into the team. Also you have your communication, so you need a lot of skills. But also a captain can't do it on his own. And last week I explained how I see team and you need more leaders. And luckily in this squad we have more leaders who not only support, but they will also play their role and to send the team in the right direction.”
You talked about the logistics. Can you tell us about the different teams and when will you go? How does that all work?
“We’ve been planning this over months, so we’ve known already for a long time how it has to look. One team will stay behind here, I will stay here as well, but also we bring a coach and a technical director, Darren Fletcher in. We bring some more in, also an analyst, some kit men stay behind to help the team, the Under-21s. Travis is the one who is in charge in the team. I will help him and support him. Of course, Under-21s is always a part of the first squad, it’s always under my supervision. I don’t want to have a red line in our club. That means we want to have the principles and the rules, it has to go down to the bottom, how we want to play. We want to educate, to teach players in the United way, so it’s easier to flow into the first-team squad. This is why this trip is very useful for us. So there will also be a team which will fly out tomorrow afternoon and prepare that game against Real Madrid. Of course I go [to Houston], but after this game has finished, I’ll fly over.”
The manager then held a short briefing with journalists in Houston via video link. The transcript will be available in due course.