Erik ten Hag has revealed which player ‘begged’ to start against Manchester City, as well as his pick for the Man of the Match award.
The Red Devils saw out a triumphant 2-1 win at Old Trafford in the 189th instalment of the fierce rivalry. Goals came from Bruno Fernandes and Marcus Rashford, which levelled a club record of a player scoring in nine consecutive home matches. Manchester United consequently moved to within one point of City in the Premier League table.
Every Red across the pitch left everything on it and there were faultless performances in every position. It has made United supporters even more optimistic that these are the players and this is the manager that will bring the glory days back to M16.
The only downside of the match was that forward Anthony Martial was unable to continue past the halfway mark. The Frenchman has struggled with several injury concerns this season alone and is yet to hit the ground running with a consecutive run of games.
Ten Hag talks City win
Post-match, Ten Hag spoke to MUTV about Martial and the team’s performance.
Q. “Erik, was Anthony Martial injured when you brought him off?”
“I hoped to avoid [him] getting injured. He was complaining, so that’s why he also didn’t train in the week and why he was a question mark. We decided, and he decided as well. He begged to start because I knew the start would be so important in this game. Especially because he is really good with his pressing and he is a really big element in our pressing, and he did that really well before half-time. But also you saw he was not capable to go 100 per cent and that’s what you need. Also, to avoid [him] getting injured, we took him off. But it also had an impact on our game, a negative impact after half-time.”
Q. “If he’s not available, would Wout Weghorst be in contention to start against Palace or would that be too soon?”
“I have to think that over. First, settle down this game and make the right conclusions. Then we will make a clear plan. I have to see [for] Palace. Of course, I know already a lot about Palace, we faced them also in pre-season, I know how the team is. The total plan I don’t have now, I didn’t construct it until now. So from this point on, we can construct and we can prepare the team in the right way.”
Q. “Erik, in terms of the result today [Saturday] and the high of this win against Manchester City, what has been your message to the players in terms of resetting for the Crystal Palace game? Do you almost have to give them the opportunity to celebrate this or do they have to forget it and move on instantly?”
“I think [after] every win, you have to celebrate. You work so hard for such momentum. Every win that is so great in top football, if you can’t celebrate, I think you kill the energy as well. So we have to celebrate it, but after it, we have to settle down and after 24 hours, move on and go to the next game. Then you get in the right rhythm. Every third day, we have to deliver and the players have to get in the right rhythm from a physical point of view, but also mentally and be ready for the next game and that is against Crystal Palace on Wednesday.”
Q. “Bruno Fernandes won Man of the Match (on Sky Sports) against Manchester City. You decided to play him on the right-hand side. Can I ask, what do you see Bruno Fernandes offering from a wide position rather than through the middle?”
“The idea was, with Bruno on the right wing, especially in defending, but he defended, I think, as usual. But in possession, he had a role to come in between the lines to bring an extra player there, to bring the opponent problems in hesitation and confusion. I think he played that role really brilliantly on the right and on the left also. I think the rest of the team adapted well to the situation and I think we had really good breaks by finding the free man. Bruno was important factor in that role and he was important to the pressing as well, I think. I didn’t know he was [Sky’s] Man of the Match, but he was my Man of the Match, definitely, Bruno Fernandes.”