In the early morning of August 14th, Beijing time, in the second round of the 2022-23 Premier League season, Manchester United will go away to challenge Brentford. Before the game, Manchester United coach Ten Hag talked about the team’s signings and Cristiano Ronaldo in an interview.
Q: As a coach, how do you deal with a situation like this, starting Cristiano Ronaldo who doesn’t want to stay at the club.
Ten Hag: I will use the players we have, we plan to spend this season with Ronaldo. We’re happy with him and now we have to integrate him and he needs to be at the right level of fitness so he can do what we expect him to do.
Q: The reaction of the fans to the club’s attempt to sign Arnautovic has been resistance, could this be a mistake? What do you think he can bring? He’s 33 and it’s like a gamble…
Ten Hag: It’s also an assumption, I can’t talk about players from other teams. When we have the intention, we will implement it, like we brought Eriksen, Marasia and Lisandro Martinez here, then we will announce it.
Q: You said last week that you were going to wait for the right player to arrive. For many outside the club and for many fans, Arnautovic was the wrong man. Has the strategy changed as we go into the last few weeks of the transfer window and you have to compromise with certain players you are trying to bring in.
Ten Hag: Of course, the transfer market is always changing, but we still have to play those who can contribute to the team, not those who can’t. Then we have to do that with the current squad, we have to improve the team.
Q: From the first time you talked to the club about coaching, did the club operate in the way you expected? Are you surprised by what clubs are doing in the transfer market?
Ten Hag: We work well together and I am very satisfied. Of course, it’s better for players to come in early so they can adapt more quickly. In midfield and attacking, if a player is injured, we have problems.
Ten Hag: Not yet, but he knows I like him a lot. He knows, and I want him to stay here, so I’ll tell him again.
Q: Have you ever been in a situation like this before, where the team still has a lot to fill at the start of the season?
Ten Hag: Yes, I have. I have this experience, yes.
Q: You mentioned before that Manchester United fans want to win every game, do you think that is a fair expectation given the current state of the club, how it was last season, and the time it will take to catch up with Manchester City and Liverpool?
Ten Hag: I wouldn’t say it’s easy, but I think Manchester United stand for trophies and that has to be the standard that everyone expects. We cannot accept lower standards because then we cannot get back to where we need to be.
Q: You were appointed in the last week of April and since then you have been saying you want a striker and a midfielder, is it ‘disaster’ to describe you not having enough midfielders or What about the fact about the linemen?
Ten Hag: I didn’t think it was a disaster. Of course, I’m going to be reborn again, and I’d prefer to have them come in early because then we can train them early. But the season has been long and our job is to bring in the right players.
Q: The season is long, but you’ve been appointed for 4 months. In your opinion, why haven’t you signed the player you want?
Ten Hag: That’s a tough question to answer. When you have more than an hour, I can briefly explain it to you. But I can tell you, it’s really complicated. However, I am satisfied with what the club has done so far. That’s a positive sign last week, not just last week, but the week before it. Malaysia played well, Eriksen and Lisandro Martinez played well against Brighton, so I’m satisfied.
Q: You just talked passionately about Rashford and said you love him. What do you think he can contribute to the team and what can he achieve at the club?
Ten Hag: In the short time I’ve been here, he’s already shown what he can do in pre-season. Likewise, he scored twice in last week’s game. So for the team, he can be in the right place at the right time, and I know and believe he can show his finishing ability.
Q: How do you assess his confidence in that moment, he scored four or five goals last season, he is in that position, but he is not taking his chances now.
Ten Hag: But he did score in the pre-season.
Q: Is it possible that Rashford will be distracted by the transfer news, do you think he should really focus on football now?
Ten Hag: I know the experience of the players in this area, they are good enough to deal with things like this. We have to focus on the most important things, which should be the next game first.
Q: In the last few years, every player wanted to play for Manchester United. But now you need to convince them, especially without the Champions League?
Ten Hag: I don’t know how it was in the past, but again, we need high standards, so we have to keep them high. Therefore, the quality of the players we want to bring in is also very high.
Q: Will Ronaldo be with you? Will that help you get something out of the transfer market?
Ten Hag: Yes, we have confirmed his plans at every press conference.
Q: In terms of players you’re looking to bring in, is character one of the most important qualities you look at when it comes to the right players?
Ten Hag: Of course, and it has to be integrated into the team.
Q: There was a talk this week that there was a certain level of panic within the club about players you’ve been trying to sign, what do you think?
Ten Hag: It’s normal to panic when Manchester United don’t play well and don’t win. If I didn’t panic, I’d panic even more. Because we have to win, that’s the demand. But I still don’t think “panic” is the right word, it’s more like “Come on, we have to act.”
Question: What is the correct word? So you feel like something has to be done, but you still do it in a measured and controlled way?
Ten Hag: Yes, we have to think smart and do the right thing.
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