Every word of Ten Hag’s press conference ahead of Man United’s game against Chelsea
Erik ten Hag insists his United “want to compete with the best” but refused to elaborate on rumours linking Neymar with a move to Old Trafford this summer.
Manchester United welcome Chelsea at Old Trafford on Thursday night and have the chance to join Manchester City, Arsenal and Newcastle as England’s four representatives in next season’s Champions League. Ten Hag’s team need just a draw to make sure of fourth place - tomorrow’s clash is their game in hand which means they could still mathematically dislodge Newcastle from third. United end their league campaign at home to Fulham then have a full week to prepare for the FA Cup final. Overall, this season has been a marked improvement on the previous one when they finished sixth, were dumped out of the Champions League in the first knockout round and also suffered early exits in both of the domestic cups. This year, Ten Hag’s team have the chance to complete a cup double but first, they have to deal with Chelsea. The manager spoke about the game and the season in today’s press conference.
How important is it to get the point needed to secure fourth place and Champions League football next season?
I think you’ve just answered your own question. It’s clear, we want to win every game and that’s what we’ve been doing all season. Tomorrow, we want to do the same. We want to win the game, play dominant football and get the job done.
You haven’t made any comments about your plans for the squad next season. But people have made the connection with Anthony Martial and the fact that the striker’s position is not sorted at United. His lack of goals (five in the league, eight in total) and contract situation (due to expire in 2024) suggests that he could be moved on in the summer. Is that a fair assessment?
No. If you are not available you can’t score goals. When he was available, we played better, the team was winning games. He was also scoring goals then. But he has to be available.
The team is fourth on 69 points and needs one point to qualify for the Champions League group stage. Are you where you expected to be or ahead of the targets that the owners set you when you took the job?
First we have to win tomorrow’s game and get the job done. Then it will be about how the owners judge our season. Whether we have performed well or badly... we have a project in progress, we want to go back and win trophies - we have won one trophy and we want to win more. We want to compete with the best. It’s early days, I think we are heading in the right direction but it can always be better because just being good is not good enough.
Marcus Rashford’s been out ill and injured, is he now fit and ready to go?
It looks that way. He returned to training yesterday. He looks quite fit but we have to see how he is today in training and how well he has recovered. Then we will make a decision.
In terms of the project, what is the significance of getting into the Champions League, taking a step forward next season and attract players who maybe wouldn’t want to come to a club that isn’t playing in the Champions League?
We want to compete with the best and to do that, you have to be in the Champions League. It’s as simple as that. In the Premier League, you have to be in the first four and that’s not easy because there are a lot of teams competing for the same objective. A lot of team think they should be in the Champions League and we are one of them.
There have been reports coming out of France linking Neymar to United. Can you comment on that?
When we have news, we will tell you.