Erik ten Hag says that Manchester United’s season is only just beginning, as a pivotal run-in begins with today’s trip to Newcastle United in the Premier League.
Currently occupying third place in the league, into the quarter-finals of the Europa League and the semi-finals of the FA Cup, Erik’s side have plenty to play for.
Following the international break, the Reds return to action with this afternoon’s trip to St James’ Park to face the Magpies, who are just three points below us in the league table at present.
Ahead of the visit to Tyneside, Ten Hag conducted his customary matchday Q&A, in which he discussed Eddie Howe’s side, revealed how he spent the recent pause in our season, and more.
Erik, firstly have you managed to have a break? Have you managed to catch a breath after a relentless schedule and a really busy fixture list?
“Yeah [I have] also. And of course, I had a breather and turned off from football. A couple of days to think about other things, about family of course, and getting away from football to do some relaxation. But also, to analyse the games we played [over] the past three months where we had to face [many sides] – analyse how we have performed. Analyse [our] development and I think it was good. During games you don’t have the time for that. I think we had a good analysis, good evaluation, we set the right conclusions and from here on we have to move on.”
From one busy period to another, it’s a packed schedule again, beginning with Newcastle. We know a lot about them, having played them recently at Wembley. An important game for both teams, how big a test is it straight after the internationals?
“It is and we are looking forward to a big test and big challenges and it is a very good team, a very good manager. Their way of play is really well structured, so we have to play our best football, we know that. But we, as I said, we like the challenges, and we are really looking forward to Sunday.”
“I am proud of it because it also tells something about Manchester United and the process we are in. That our players are in action and in form, and during the whole season you see [that] and you feel them progressing across the whole season. So they show it also for their nations and it’s good to see that most of the nations performed really well.”
“I think so. He returned back into the team training yesterday [Thursday] so we are quite positive that he’s available for Sunday. So of course we are happy with that because he’s a very important player for us.”
“Quite positive about all of the players. Christian Eriksen is back on the pitch, not yet in the team training but I expect him in the coming week, weeks, back in team training so will be available for games again. So we know how big an impact Christian Eriksen had on our game, but also others like Anthony Martial also returning in team training and [we had] no injuries luckily from the internationals. That’s always a concern as a manager when the players leave you, how you get them back and especially in this stage of the season when it comes to the end, to the final stage. The season actually starts now, and we have to be ready for that start and we are in the right position but we have to take this great opportunity to restart very well and then improve our game, and win big games.”
We are all excited for this run, and the fans are all excited by how it’s going. The fans voted Bruno [Fernandes] as the Player of the Month for March. What does that tell you about the importance he has in this team and how well Bruno’s doing?
“That’s difficult, they are all great players. So I think they all deserve to be in the Premier League Hall of Fame. That would be my advice!”