Erik ten Hag addressed the media during his press conference ahead of Manchester United’s fixture in the Premier League against Fulham on Saturday.
Ten Hag appears to be under pressure now to deliver results amid reports of unrest within the Old Trafford dressing room.
Ahead of this important clash, Ten Hag clarified previous comments he made about never playing the same way as his former Ajax team. He also provided updates on the team news, the morale within the squad, Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s investment and more.
Every word from the manager can be read below, with part two of the press conference being released at 22:30 (UK) on Friday evening.
Latest team news, other than Casemiro being out | “[Raphael] Varane is ready to play. He will be travelling with the squad. Victor Lindelof, from illness. We have to see if he is ready for tomorrow.”
Questioning of team’s character | “That is not right. You can’t say that. Remember the fight we showed against Brentford and that comeback. If there wasn’t spirit in the dressing room or there aren’t characters in the dressing room, you can’t do this.”
Addressing prior Ajax playstyle comments | “I thought it was an explanation from my point of view [that] was totally wrong. But I can’t play like Ajax because we have different players. I came here with my philosophy based on possession but also to combine it with the DNA of Manchester United and combine it with the players and the competences and with the characters of the players. You combine and I think last year we have seen what that was. We played very good football last season. This season, the philosophy is not different and I would emphasise more on going direct. But the explanation of my going direct, they [journalists] thought I wanted to go for long balls. No, I don’t. I didn’t buy Andre Onana to go for long balls. I know we want to play from the back as we did and we tried every game. We also did against City but if an opponent is going in a high press there is an option to go direct. What I meant with directness, and I explain it, is I thought it was in the USA [on tour] how we want to play. We want to press. We want to press from different blocks and then go direct because we have players like Rasmus Hojlund, Marcus Rashford, Antony and Bruno and Scott McTominay who are very good at it, with passing from Christian Eriksen. With our full-backs joining in. That was my idea and I explained it very clear.”
People can’t see the style in recent games | “I don’t want to say that. I think that is too strong. I think the intention is clear but definitely it is the case that the execution isn’t there. But I think the moment we are in, with so many changes in every game, we can’t line up the same two or three games after each other. We have to swap. And last season was the same, but it was one player and now we miss two or three players in the back four and we have to adjust and it doesn’t help the routines. Also in the midfield we have to adjust, missing Casemiro, an important player. We have to win and I don’t want to find excuses if we are not winning. We have to be more pragmatic but still we have to win. That is the demand and I don’t walk away from that.”
Reaction from the players this week | “They are positive. They want to put this right. We know the standards here and we have to match the standards every day. We have had two big setbacks and we will fight back. This dressing room is strong and this staff is strong and this manager is strong, to put this right.”
Confident of significant transfer funds from Sir Jim Ratcliffe | “I have a good squad. I am convinced of the players in the dressing room. These players we have seen last year. They can do a lot better but it is up to me to let them play better. I take the responsibility to let them play better and I will put everything in to get this done. I am not thinking about [transfer] windows. We have a good squad and we constructed this squad and when players are available and returning from injury we will do better.”
Is Fulham must-win | “I never think in such scenarios. I think in every game we must win. In every game we must put every effort in. We prepare, the players will do very good and I think we will do everything to execute that plan.”
How do you get back to being hard to beat | “I think the players are hard to beat but in this moment, obviously, then you lose two games we did not show it. I am convinced that in the long term these players will be hard to beat and they know how to do it.”
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