Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag says he is pleased with the club’s improvement over the course of the international break and is well-prepared for a very defining run of fixtures.
The Reds will play 13 times across the Premier League and Europa League over the next 43 days, starting with a crunch fixture at the Etihad Stadium for the Manchester derby with City on Sunday afternoon.
While 16 of Ten Hag’s featured for their countries at international level over the break, the preparation and planning has continued behind the scenes at Carrington, between those that stayed at the club and the backroom staff.
Erik is confident that United made the most of the break – lengthened by the postponement of the club’s two previous league fixtures – and are now ready to tackle an action-packed agenda head on, before the World Cup begins in November.
A big highlight in the club’s progress stems from the fact that Ten Hag was awarded the manager of the month for September while Marcus Rashford also claimed the player of the month prize.
Speaking on that, the Dutch tactician said: “I’m really happy for him. That tells that Marcus is back on track. He is in his middle 20s, he showed in the past in his young career already a lot. Last year was definitely a setback but you see, he’s back on that level and I’m really happy and I’m convinced he can score a lot more goals and that he will be a contributor for our team. But also, it’s a team performance that [allows] Marcus to do that work because they bring him the balls in their cooperation, so it’s good to see and it will be a stimulus for both, the manager and the players, [to know] that we are in a good direction so now, [we need to] keep going.”
Speaking ahead of his side’s clash with Manchester City, Ten Hag says he has a lot of respect for Pep Guardiola while adding that the Citizens are more than just Erling Haaland.
“A lot. It’s another test, it’s good to compete with the best team in the league in this moment and we are really looking forward [to it] because we are in the right direction, we have belief but now, on Sunday, something is coming to us that we really like, that we’re really looking forward to, it gives us a lot of energy and we want to challenge them.”
“As you say, many good players, it’s not only one player. We have to do the things right, we have to play as a team. In possession, it’s really important against them to be brave and get the right positions, but also out of possession, that’s clear. But [we want] the right organisation and intensity.”