Every word from Erik's pre-Liverpool press conference: Part two

Sunday 21 August 2022 22:30

Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag was quizzed by sections of the media on Friday, as preparations continue towards our Premier League clash with Liverpool on Monday.

The Reds will be bidding to kickstart the domestic campaign, as we face Jurgen Klopp's side at Old Trafford (20:00 BST), looking to avenge our two league defeats sustained thus far in 2022/23. 

Fielding questions on a range of different topics, the boss was asked what has to change for success, as well as discussing transfers, Lisandro Martinez and more. 

Below, you can read everything the Dutchman had to say at Carrington...

Part two: Erik's press conference v Liverpool Video

Part two: Erik's press conference v Liverpool

Topics covered in the second part of Erik’s press conference include transfers, training and attitude…

The players were asked to attend an additional training session on Sunday following the defeat against Brentford, whose decision was that?
''I made that decision on Saturday. During the game when I saw the performance, that is not the standard for Manchester United and it is not my standard. We have to change that and I have to teach the team and the players what that standard is. We do not accept this.''

How did the players react to that, was it a good session, was it a focussed session? Were some angry about that?
''It is not a problem and I hope some of them are angry by themselves. Angry with each other that they didn't take responsibility for each other. What I say is that it is not acceptable and you cannot live with it, not for yourself or for the team, for Man Utd, for all the fans of Man Utd.''

I know you don't wish to speak about Casemiro specifically, but after the manner of the defeat last week, has that prompted you to look at the midfield and perhaps see that you need some extra security with a defensive midfielder?
''I think I even told you in the first press conference what we need. So that doesn't change.''

Erik how big is the gap between this team and Liverpool, we have seen how well they have done over the last three seasons?
''I don't know if you can tell that in football but what we have to do is: we know where we are now and we know we have to improve, improve a lot. We will work on our plan and not look at Liverpool.''

I know you have spoken in the past about the fan base and the feeling you got at Old Trafford the first time you walked out, is there not a feeling that the players are getting perhaps a little nervous and scared of the reaction from the home crowd? 
''It's not necessary because they are good players. They are a good team if they do what they have to do. In football, it is not always working like you plan because you have to face an opponent, that is clear. But if you work hard and stick to the plan the result will come.''

In the session on Sunday, it was suggested the purpose was to run the gap that Brentford had ran more than United, can you talk a little more on that?
''It was to face the team and know that the attitude was not right. You have to bring at least the same as the opponent. When I say at least, we have to do more than the opponent both in and out of possession.''

Has that surprised you? Because during the tour it seemed like they were really buying into that approach?
''Sometimes during a new process you have a drop. Then you tell them, you face them and you say that it is unacceptable.''

Team news for United v Liverpool


Erik ten Hag has an update on Anthony Martial, who missed our first two games of the season.

On transfers, at Ajax you had Marc Overmars who you worked very closely with. How involved were you with transfers there, have you been more involved here than you were there? 
''The same.''

You are saying you see enough fighting spirit on the pitch and everyone agrees with you, but are you not concerned that if they are not showing that, then perhaps they do not have it in them to accept this criticism?
''No, because every manager will demand it from their players. It is normal and it is your obligation to the club, to fight and give 100 per cent.''

You're saying it publicly, but the fact they are not doing it on the pitch, is that not a concern?
''We don't have five minutes now to talk about them. In every process these elements seem to come up. One of the points as a manager is that you have to work on the mentality and the attitude to play and that is what I am doing. This is the first time and to all 27 of you, I was not happy, I was not satisfied with them and I told them.''

When you have a result like Brentford, are you a manager that thinks the players in the team need to prove their chance and swap them or are you one that sends them out again in order to fix it?
''That depends on the situation. I don't think there is a general answer for this.''

In the discussions that you have had since Brentford, you have to sit in front of us and talk about hunger and attitude but have the players offered you an explanation as to why the attitude wasn't right at Brentford?
''I am not interested in the reason why. I think they just have to deliver. This is my obligation, and them, don't get me wrong, when I talk about the players and I want to emphasise that, I am in the same boat as well. When we are not in the right attitude, I am not either. We win together and we lose together. This cannot happen and this is the signal, I think we don't have to make it bigger. It is now a new big story and that is not what it looks like, this is the first occasion that it happened.''

There has been so much talk about the players attitude and lack of confidence, I wanted to ask, are you a believer in sports psychology? Have you had some in this week to help them build their confidence?
''Yes I do believe so. But the main thing is you have to get this from yourself and I have already said how. It is quite elusive but you cannot do more than you can, but do what you can. That is the philosophy, the game plan, the plan. Follow the rules, follow the principles and play as a team.''

Has the team been working on that this week with the sports psychologist?
''From the first day on we [have] worked with that. That philosophy and also mentally, we do that continually.''

There was a clear lack of leadership on the pitch at Brentford and do you feel you are getting enough out of your team in terms of leadership, especially from your captain?
''When the attitude is not good from a team then often the leaders are not there. They are the ones who can give the example and go in front, this is clear. Also, this is another point we have to work on.''

Have you spoken to Harry [Maguire] about the greater need for equality and leadership?
''I always work with a group of leaders, not just one in particular. I spoke with the leaders about this issue we have, yes.''

Did you have a core of senior players you spoke to?
''It doesn't always have to be senior players but have a core group who has to be there and show an example and bear the responsibility.''

Erik: You have to fight your way into the season


Ten Hag expects his side to play with spirit on Monday evening, when United face Liverpool at Old Trafford.

What have you seen from your leadership in this group that has given you encouragement?
''This is also a process. We have worked on this for a couple of weeks now and it needs time to grow.''

With Lisandro Martinez, have you had to speak to him this week, have you reassured him regarding a tough 45 minutes of football about adapting to English football?
''I don't think it was a tough 45 minutes anymore than any other player on the pitch. I saw from his stats he won his aerial duels and his challenges. He was always good with his passing. He also made some mistakes as did the whole team did and I could have swapped 11 players.''

The end of last season and the start of this season is relegation form. Some say Man Utd are too big to be relegated. What are your thoughts on that?
''I think we had a good basic pre-season, but then our number nine [Anthony] Martial was injured and Ronny [Cristiano Ronaldo] is not fit. The 'six' in holding midfield is not there. First game, we had the two in defence who had never played with each other and the goalkeeper was also not the best in this period. There is a clear reason why. But I know we will fix that and I know that we will be better and the results will show this. It has been shown in pre-season.''

The previous manager famously said the squad needed open heart surgery, is that fair comment on what you have seen this season already?
''I don't have a comment on our reaction to that. I will comment on what I see now. My experience what I have seen in the pre-season is that we did quite well. The first two league games were not good enough that is clear.''

Have you been shocked from what you have seen in the first two games, compared to what you saw during the tour and during pre-season? Regarding both the confidence and the application?

''No because I have made that conclusion already as to what it could be. But you also see what is the potential of this team in pre-season, now we have to work together to get the best and to get those performances back on the pitch.''

How hard were those moments, the two half-times you had to go in, regarding your own career, at both 2-0 and 4-0 down?
''For me personally it is never the issue, I am not here for myself. I am here to help the club and to restore the club and I knew before coming here this is a challenge. I wanted this challenge. I knew before but I wanted that because everywhere in my career where I have started the start was always difficult, but I get it done, I am convinced I can get it done here as well. Therefore I chose the project and I know it is a process, I will stay consistent to the plan, the philosophy we have and I have confidence in the cooperation I have in the players but also in the team around me, like the coaches and the directors.''