Erik ten Hag sat down with member of supporter groups today for a special Manchester United Fans’ Press Conference.
As something a little different, rather than the usual gaggle of journalists, the manager was quizzed by 13 branches of the Manchester United Supporters Club.
The event gave insights into the build-up to the Carabao Cup game against Aston Villa as well as some more long-term plans.
Straight off the bat, Ten Hag was asked about the Carabao Cup game and the injury issues United are facing.
“First of all, all the games has only one aim – we have to win. So we put the best players we have on the pitch, make a proper plan, and get the line-up. We want to play a strong team, win, and go to the next round.
“There are some players coming back but also some question marks. Anthony Martial played 20 minutes before and he will hopefully continue that. I think he is capable of playing more minutes.
“Jadon Sancho – we have to wait. Antony – we have to wait.”
Asked about the performance in United’s Premier League defeat against Aston Villa, the Dutchman pointed to fitness issues caused by the club’s hectic schedule but still demanded improvement.
“We had a good flurry of games, and we played a lot. I know players are not robots, but we are not happy with our performance. We analysed and it was not good enough.
“We want a reaction to get back to what we have seen in recent months with the attitude and culture.”
“We have to win every game. We take every game seriously. Also this cup. We want to win this cup.”
On young players, Ten Hag suggested that chances would always be available for younger players regardless of the competition.
“I’m open to bring in young players. We brought in Alejandro Garnacho because he deserved it with his performance on the training pitch.
“I’m really one who will back the process and have communication with the academy and under 21s, so that we have a good line. But in the end, players have to deserve the chance.”
On his first five months at the club, Ten Hag was optimistic.
“I knew from the start it was an exciting process but also a difficult process. We saw United were far from where we needed to be. We’ve had to work really hard, and I think we are in the right direction but there has to come much more.
“It is a challenge and I like challenges. You walk around Carrington, and you smell football. We want to get to our goal and that is on the top of the world.”
Ten Hag insists he is determined to bring back the glory years at Old Trafford and highlighted the importance of mentality and creativity to the club’s historical successes.
“United have always had a fighting spirit and really good offensive players. It was always the pace and the fight that was in the culture of Manchester United and that was what I wanted to bring back to the club.
“When I saw the team on Sunday, that was not Manchester United.”
The manager was asked what a successful season would look like.
“First, we have to win all the games! For no, it’s to get into a position where we can win trophies. When we get to April, we need to be able to win trophies. For now it is about winning games and developing the team.”
Ten Hag was also asked about where he wanted his team to be in two years’ time and gave an insight into his overall plan for the club.
“We have to do well in the transfer market and have a good youth philosophy. Two years down the line I want a good style of play. When we get that style throughout the squad you will see the improvement which we get from management, training, and coaching.”
On United’s away following, Ten Hag was effusive in his praise.
“We have to build that togetherness between players and fans because I think it’s a weapon. It really helps us. I think the best example was against Chelsea when we equalised and the players and fans were celebrating together.”