First of all congratulations for the Manager-of-the-Month award. What does that say about what you are achieving as a group, and Marcus as well as a player?
EtH: You see right, what we achieve as a group, we did it together. It tells us we are going in the right direction, but tells us further on nothing. That short in the season, we know there is a lot of space for improvement, we have to improve. But it gives us this positive that we are in the right direction but it tells us also that we have to work really hard to get to a higher level.
What’s the situation with injuries and absentees for the City game?
EtH: We have injuries following, Harry Maguire is injured and I think for the rest we have some doubts with Anthony Martial, but he was training all week with the group so I’m really happy with that situation. He is performing really well in training, he makes a good impression in training so we are also happy with that. Rashford has returned to training and we are happy with that. And for the rest, only the long-term injuries like Axel Tuanzebe and Brandon Williams, they are not available.
A lot was said about Harry Maguire, and I appreciate he’s not going to play in this game, but do you need to be protective of him because it seems that anything that goes wrong he will get blamed for it. Most of what is written about him on social media is negative at the moment. Do you have to defend him and protect him?
EtH: First of all, of course, I have to coach him, I have to back him. But I back him because I believe in him. In the period I have worked with him, his pre-season was good, I would say really good, in training and in games. Then he falls out, but that is also to do with the good performance of the centre-backs that are playing now. But I can see the qualities and even after he was not in the team, he trained really well. But more important, the quality was really there and you see his career, he has almost 50 caps for England. With Leicester, with Man United, he’s performing really well so what you see is he has a high potential. And then it’s about him. The players in the dressing room, the coaches, the manager, we all believe in him. And now it’s about him and that is what I told him. I’m sure he can do it and he will turn it around, I’m really convinced of that.
Just in terms of Manchester City, most people would regard them as the benchmark for the teams in the Premier League. What is your view going there and facing Guardiola and that team?
EtH: Our approach is first look to ourselves. And the approach for Man United is we want to win every game, and that message I’ve already told several times here. So, the aim for Sunday is nothing else. We have to perform our best and we have to put out of our way of playing, our rules, our principles, we have to do our best and of course we will make a good game plan and then it’s about the execution, and we have to do it. We know that if we want to get a result, and we want to get a result, we have to do it 100% well.
What do you know about the Manchester derby and what does it mean to you to be involved in it?
EtH: I played in many derbies and I know what derbies, what they are. With rivals, what they do with each other, I think, and I know, it’s the most important game in Manchester area for the fans. It excites me. You want to be involved in these games, because it gives a good vibe, it gives so much energy. You do everything to win that game, clear.
How do you prepare for a player with the characteristics and ability of Erling Haaland?
EtH: We don’t play against Haaland, we play against Manchester City. They have a team and more than 11 players, but we do as well. We are convinced of our capabilities and if we act as a team in and out of possession, then you can beat such opponents. That is the belief, where we have to get with us when we line up, when we start the game and we need it over more than the 90 minutes, clear.
I wonder, referring to Harry and players in general, what are your thoughts on the mental health of players? On the pitch, he looks like a player who has lost so much confidence. What are your concerns about that and the responsibility football fans have?
EtH: But it’s an expect of top football, it’s an expect of our work, so we set conditions for that as management. We also have experts around to help and to coach the players and the team in the right direction.
How do you think he’s handling that?
EtH: I think he is doing quite well, but every player, there is room for improvement. If he believes in his skills, he will be quickly back on the level, even more than he did. Once again, I am convinced of that, because I see his capabilities, it’s really high.
You’ve gone from losing the first two games to being Manager of the Month. How would you sum up the progression to where we are now?
EtH: Football is a daily rate, I would say. So football’s all about the result and then the daily rate is the positive or negativity. I see it more in a pattern, I see it more in the long term. I think we played really good pre-season, so then in the first two games, head down. You see already the base we made in pre-season, then we win obviously four games, so we are happy with that, but also we still see lacks in our game, what we have to improve and that’s what we are working on, day by day.
What did you learn from your time working with Pep Guardiola and what did you take from his managerial style and tactical approach that you’ve taken on yourself?
EtH: First of all, the most important thing is that no person is the same. I have to stick by myself and then I learn a lot from many human beings in football. Especially, of course to the top coaches, I admire Pep Guardiola, not only because he is successful but because he is doing it in a certain way which really attracts people to football. And that is a really big reward.
Lisandro Martinez had a good game against Erling Haaland in the Champions League when Ajax beat Dortmund last season. Can that be any benefit to you heading into this game? Any lessons there?
EtH: He will take some of the habits, but it is a totally different situation. Two different teams, so different approaches, different situations. So you cannot compare this.
After the Sheriff game there was talk of potential recruitment heading into January. How did those conversations go? Is there any reflection on that after the financial results came out last week and there was a clear message that the summer was going to be the priority?
EtH: No. I wasn’t aware, but the conclusion I only look for in buys is what you have to prepare for what can happen and also to really look to your squad, what’s now there. It is not about conversations, it is about thinking and working out the strategies for how you see your players, how you want them to play and how do the players fit in. It’s a huge scale that you have to develop in these periods. The period of international break it gives you time to develop these aspects with strategies for the coming games. We have finalised block one and now we got to block two. It is a huge challenge because we play big games and we have to be ready for that and we prepare game plans and programmes.
Pep said in April that you could have been seen as a potential replacement for him at Manchester City, was there any part of you that considered to wait for Manchester City or is the fact that you chose Manchester United showing the pull of Manchester United was too great to turn down?
EtH: It is a nice compliment first, but I choose to be 100% convinced by Manchester United, with everything in it. I don’t regret it for one second.
You said at the start there is room for improvement, but the results against Arsenal and Liverpool must give you confidence that you can beat anyone, including City at the Etihad?
EtH: Yes, but when I analysed those games then I have to be critical. There is room for improvement and we have to keep this process going, to keep beating big teams then you have to improve. If want to have stable performances not just against the big teams but against everyone, you need improvement.
When you’ve worked with a manager like Pep, does that give you an insight in to how he thinks and a little bit of an advantage in terms of making plans for the game? Also, do you feel he is the best manager at present that everyone has to aspire to?
EtH: Of course, we both think that we know everything about each other, but when we were together it was already eight years ago and as a manager, one of things you have to always do is develop. I think that’s what he did, and I know I did as well. We have both changed in the right way but I’m sure he did and I did as well. If he is not the best manager, then definitely he is one of them. For me he is, but there is much more world class manager is in this moment as well. That is quite clear.
A lot of manager will set up their team, especially when taking on a team that everyone sees as the favourite to win the title, to be more intent on stopping them rather than trying to win the game. Do you send your team there to go and play with no fear?
EtH: We want to play our game and that’s clear. With our principles and rules, but we always respect the opponent, it doesn’t matter the opponent. We want to play our game.
When you have someone like Jadon Sancho who has played with Erling Haaland, do you ask Jadon for any secrets or ways to stop him? Or is it so obvious from watching the videos what Haaland can do that there’s no point asking Jadon for information?
EtH: Of course you talk with your players. When you have a player who played in the past with a player, you ask him. I also think it is our job in advance to do the job, analyse as a team and if individual players have huge contribution to the result, we have to do our job and that is what I am doing with my staff and players because they can give us more details, clear.
Maguire got the headline, but on Luke Shaw too because he did well with England most recently, is that good for you?
EtH: Ah, he didn’t play just well he played really well. I think we are happy with all the players because they did well with the nations and we followed them because that is one of our aspects for the international break. All the players did well for their nations. Diogo scored twice, Bruno played well twice, played really strong, Casemiro and Fred played well and did their jobs. Luke Shaw definitely for me played really strong against Germany and we saw a lot, and we are happy with the performances from our players. I think it reflects well with what we are doing with players here at Manchester United in this moment with the training this morning, there was really high level of energy and the level of performance of training was good so that gives me confidence for the upcoming period.
Erling Haaland released a documentary a few weeks ago outlining the seven clubs he could have signed for in the summer, even though Manchester United weren’t one despite previous interest. I know it was before your time but how do you get this club into the position where Manchester United is at the top of the list of clubs players want to sign for rather than Man City?
EtH: We have them already here. They have the potential to become the best and some already are there. We have world champion players in our squad nowadays. So hey are the best of the world and you can say that. We have a lot of players who have already win the biggest titles in the world. I’m sure if I go back to when I was looking at players during the window, you feel that Man United is a really attractive club for them. I am not concerned about that point.
With regards to Erling Haaland, everyone knows he scores loads of goals, but what else does he bring?
EtH: I like his attitude. How he is on the pitch. He is direct, his life is about goals and he goes direct to the goal of the opponent.
Can he also create goals or is he just purely a finisher?
EtH: He can also create goals, but once again, I respect him but for us on Sunday we are not playing against Haaland, we are playing against Man City and for us, it’s not about Man City. For us, we respect our opponent, but it is about us.
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