‘I know this team can perform at really high levels,’ claims Erik ten Hag ahead of must-win Bayern clash

Addressing the media at Old Trafford on Monday ahead of Manchester United’s must-win UEFA Champions League fixture against Bayern Munich, Erik ten Hag offered updates on injuries within the camp. The Dutchman also spoke of his side’s confidence after a weekend loss to Bournemouth, and what fans can expect from Bayern – who are unbeaten in the group stage of this competition in over six years.

‘The question mark is on Victor Lindelof’

When questioned about any injuries within the squad, Erik ten Hag’s answer should fill Manchester United fans with confidence – as the manager has just one potential doubt to deal with ahead of this important clash at the Theatre of Dreams.

‘It’s a condensed programme so we have a training [session later],’ explained Erik ten Hag, ‘so at this moment, I’m not sure about everyone, who’s available for tomorrow. But the question mark is on Victor Lindelof, whether he can make it or not. We have to wait and see until tomorrow.’

‘I never think in negative scenarios’

Questioned as to how his players would react if they failed to qualify for the knockout stages of the UEFA Champions League, ten Hag simply responded: ‘I don’t know.’

‘First, I don’t think about winning the competition when you start the season. First it’s about getting into a position where you can win. So now we still have the opportunity, it’s not any more in our hands, but we want to stay in Europe and therefore we know what we have to do. We have to win to stay in Europe.’

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‘What I know is I never think in negative scenarios. I only think positive. We know what we have to do, we have to win to stay in Europe, so it’s all about that. So I will prepare the team with that feeling, with that belief that we can do it. I think we have shown in the last weeks, when we are at our best, we can do it.’

‘I know this team can perform at really high levels’

‘I know this team can perform at really high levels,’ explained the Dutchman when questioned as to whether his team are up for Tuesday’s tough task. ‘We did it three months ago. We did it last week. And so, I know we can do it. When we have the right mood, we have the right spirit and it starts with the right attitude, when everyone is ready for it, we are able to do it.’

‘It’s not about getting frustrated about it. We have to work on it. So that’s my responsibility, to set the team, to prepare the team and that they improve on the fact and I will give everything and I know my players will do as well.’

Asked for his assessment of the return fixture, which saw United fall to a 4-3 defeat at the Allianz Arena, Erik ten Hag insisted that his side ‘suffered some mistakes which were absolutely avoidable.’

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‘But that is one thing you show when you play against Bayern Munich, you have to play your best because they have a good team, they have very good football players. But as I said, Chelsea also have amazing players and we went head to head with them and we dominated them. So I think we can do that against Bayern as well.’

Inconsistent form is because of ‘personnel but I’m aware that’s my job’

After a harrowing defeat to Bournemouth on the weekend, the Dutchman slated his squad and commented that they were not good enough to be consistent at the top level. Quizzed by a reporter as to what’s changed since finishing third and reaching two cup finals last season, ten Hag responded that having a ‘regular team’ is the key to stability.

‘We had a regular team [last season], not so many changes, I think especially in our backline. For a long time, we had a regular formation and that helps you get the routines in. So we have to wait for that and until that moment, we have to deal with it. As every team has to deal with it. It’s not only us. But I’m sure when we get back to a regular base, then we will play better and you have better opportunity to win games, and you have a better opportunity of a challenge, that you are consistent.’

‘I think, first of all, it’s personnel but I am aware and that is my job. You have to be really tough if you have to do it every third day. But we are not the only team. I see the inconsistency from other teams in this period in the Premier League. I think the players are not robots but the team who can deal the best with it, they will [finish] the most high.’