Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag spoke to MUTV ahead of his team’s pre-season friendly against Premier League opposition, Crystal Palace, on Tuesday.
The United manager spoke about a range of issues and topics that would be of interest to many United fans who have been pleased with Ten Hag’s style of play and philosophy after convincing pre-season friendly wins against Liverpool and Melbourne Victory.
Speaking to the media ahead of the game tomorrow, the new man in the Old Trafford dugout spoke about the team’s training sessions, describing them as “so intense with a focus on conditioning and a lot of ball work.” The manager also spoke about the players who have reportedly taken to his hands-on training methods like a duck to water, describing them as “very sharp in training.”
On the team’s training sessions, Ten Hag further spoke on the importance of counter-pressing, something United have been accused of lacking under previous managerial regimes. He noted that this was improving, with reaction times for the team as a whole getting shorter.
In a vote of confidence that will bode well for the players’ confidence, the manager remarked, “The players in the team do really well and they respond well to practicing, the exercises, to the game plan and to the principles we present on them. So you see something is rising. Are we happy with it? It’s a starting point.”
The former Ajax manager was also asked about United’s new signing, Christian Eriksen, who he labeled as an experienced player, highlighting the player’s extensive playing career in Italy, Holland, and even a former stint in England with Tottenham Hotspur.
Speaking about the Danish superstar, Ten Hag said, “I think he [Eriksen] is a magnificent football player and I think the fans will enjoy watching him, because he’s creative, he has ideas. I think especially our strikers will also be happy because he’s the one who can involve them in the game.”
The Dutchman went ahead and described Eriksen as ‘the right player to get in.’ From his remarks about the 30-year-old, it is clear that Ten Hag sees him as central to his revolution at the Theatre of Dreams.
Ten Hag was also asked about Lisandro Martinez, who was recently confirmed by United as the third signing of the new era, subject to a medical, player terms being finalized, and to UK visa requirements.
On his former player, Ten Hag said, “He’s a warrior and I think the fans will admire him. He has an attitude and a fighting spirit. He brings aggressiveness to the game, in a good way. I think we need that”
“I think it’s important, yeah. I think the Premier League is high intensity, with lots of challenges. We need such players [with fighting spirit]. Certain ideas, he knows them. That is an advantage, clearly.”
In an apparent message to the United board, the senior hierarchy, and even the fanbase, Ten Hag went into detail about not only the importance of the starting eleven on the pitch but also a quality squad with sufficient depth in every position.
He said, “I don’t think you can talk about [the] starting XI players. I think we need a squad. This is a season with even more games than ever, by the World Cup. You need depth in the squad, so we need more than 11 starting players and we are working on that.”
United will be looking to extend their impressive winning form in pre-season as they face Crystal Palace tomorrow at the Melbourne Cricket ground.