Can you just explain where the situation is with Antony and also what you see in him, having worked with him at Ajax, that you think will make him a success at Manchester United?
First we have to sign him. So there’s agreement between the clubs but the paperwork is not done, so I cannot go too deep in that fact.
OK, but would he hopefully fill the position that you think is important?
Offence and offensive departments still we need to strengthen our squad because we have many games to cover. From now on we go in three games a week, every third or fourth day. As you know especially from offensive players they are quicker fatigued because they have to run more, they have high intensity. We expect that from them in our way of play. So we need numbers there but not only numbers, we don’t need only quantity, we need quality.
We’re led to believe Martin Dubravka is also likely to sign for the club before the deadline. If that deal is done will that be the end of the signings for Manchester United or could you sign someone else?
I think so. For this window it will be the end. But when there is great opportunity you have to always be alert as a top club.
Where does this leave Cristiano Ronaldo with Antony’s incoming? Clearly he wants to play, does this restrict his game time more? Is he still part of the plans?
Clear. Of course. What I just said, we need quality players and you need more to cover all the games to keep also the consistency going. That is what we strive for.
I know you said there that might be it, but is Aaron Wan-Bissaka still part of your plans? There’s talk of Sergino Dest coming in from Barcelona who you know of course from Ajax?
Of course, Aaron is still in. He will keep and he will stay in, so this squad we will go from September to minimum January but we will play with this squad this season.
Just on your upturn in fortunes the last two games. It’s the same players, has that purely been down to a change in attitude and commitment and drive that you’ve instilled in them?
I see it as a start. I think now we have a good base, but this is the minimum what we have to bring. I was happy to see that turn and we have to keep this spirit and to keep this winning mentality because you need it if you want to get a successful season. You need it in the squad.
How are you looking squad-wise? Is Victor Lindelof, Anthony Martial, either of them available for this game?
Victor Lindelof is training with the team, we will see today how far he is but just one session he was in. He was two, three weeks out. Martial is not available.
Going back to Antony, do you know how long it’s going to take for that transfer to be completed and all the paperwork done?
No. I don’t know.
Would you hope to have him available for the weekend?
I hope, but as I say, it has to be done because then the window is closed.
What about Leicester? It seems a surprise to many people that they’ve started the season the way they have and that they’re bottom of the Premier League table. How wary do you need to be about them producing a reaction to their start on Thursday?
I’ve seen a couple of games and also we knew from the last seasons how good they are. I think you can also see that in the games they’ve played until now. The identity is really good to see. They play really good football, so we have to be really good to get a result there.
Do these five signings – particularly the last one [Antony] which is the second biggest in the club’s history – do they signal to players that you know the club is still a major player and signal to someone like Ronaldo – who we all know wanted to go – that if he stays there can be success here, with all the additions you’ve made?
I think it’s a signal, yeah. But I think all the big clubs in the Premier League spent a lot so it’s the market.
But it shows to somebody who might want to leave the club that there is ambition to get back to the top in spending that amount of money?
From the start we said we’d plan with him so that is your vision, it’s not my vision. I think we are happy with him, he’s happy to be here and we want to make this season a success together.
Just on that, have you spoken to Cristiano about his situation and has he accepted he’s now here until at least January?
Several times, yeah. We are on one page, so.
He’s happy to stay, happy to go forward with you and the team?
Otherwise he wasn’t here.
You said a couple of weeks ago the squad needed to be stronger at the end of the window. Are you confident it is stronger now, at least until January?
I think we’ve strengthened the squad, clear. As a manager you want always more. What I demand from my players, I have to show it myself as well. You want to always maximise. But at a certain point you have also to be satisfied with what is there and it’s also then about development. Development of the team, development of the individuals to get this team stronger, to get the team more consistency. To bring more quality and that is what we have to work for now. Me, together with my coaches and of course togetherness with the team.
You’ve put your imprint on the squad very quickly and the club clearly backs you in terms of the players you’ve gone for: players you’ve coached, players from Holland. Do you feel any more pressure in that these are signings that you’ve really pushed for and that who you are familiar with?
No. So you analyse the squad with a clear vision but we were on one page. From the first talks I had with the club, they also saw the same. They saw the same, in which positions we definitely had to strengthen the squad. I’m happy that in those positions, we analysed the squad, we succeeded to fill in those positions with quality players.
Would you say you’ve got every target you wanted, apart from Frenkie de Jong maybe?
Such a process, we had more options in several positions. We are really happy with the players who we brought in. They’ve given us a good feeling, quality-wise in football but also as persons. They suit Manchester and Manchester United.
If and when Antony signs, it likely means more competition for Rashford and Sancho. Obviously they’re trying to get into the England squad for the World Cup, do you take that kind of thing into consideration or as a club manager do you not really concern yourself with what happens with national teams?
It’s good in the first place that there is competition. And I think that is I think very natural. In a top club, this situation has to be there to push players, persons to the highest levels. I’m sure they’re happy with that as well. But as I said before, we need players. You cannot cover all the games with every time playing the same players. You have to manage that physical but also you can play it from game to game. What do you need in certain games? Which players do you have to play to keep them fit and also to keep them in shape? Now we have that opportunity to choose and I’m lucky that we have that situation, that we created that situation so well done, I would say.
Can I ask how you see Ronaldo fitting into your team? He isn’t fully fit, maybe he is but he hasn’t looked it so far, and obviously you’ll play differently to when Rashford or Martial are in, as they’re younger and more mobile. How specifically will he fit into it and what have you said to him about where you see him going forward?
The way of play sets the demands. You can see in training it’s clear that he has the capabilities. So he will fit in because he’s, I don’t have to explain, a great player. He has great capabilities, so he will fit in every system or in every style.
Is he receptive to what you said to him about the style of football and how you want to play?
Yes. Clear. That’s why we are talking. I said we are on one page and he knows what the demand is.
Your replacement as Ajax manager Alfred Schreuder was very critical of Antony’s conduct in the final days and also talking generally about the price, saying it’s a crazy amount of money. Are you surprised at just how expensive the likes of Antony and Martinez and Casemiro have cost, how much money you’ve had to spend on them to get them in this summer? And also, how long are you expecting Anthony Martial to be out for, please?
I’ve said all the top clubs in the Premier League spent a lot of money in the summer. That is how the market developed in this window. I can do nothing for it. No one can do anything for it, it’s just a market. So we have to accept that.
And Martial, how long are you expecting Anthony to be out for?
I think at least this week but I think a little bit longer.
You’ve spoken quite a lot about the importance of a player having the right attitude and mentality. Does Antony fit the bill in that respect, from your experience of working with him? What is his attitude and mentality like?
It’s difficult to talk about a player we didn’t sign but we announced we wanted to do it. But definitely he’s one with the right fighting spirit.
In terms of his position, he played a lot on the right in your time at Ajax. Is that where you primarily see him playing for United, if he does get over the line?
If it happens, yes.
Just a little bit more on the transfer spend because I think it’s more than people originally thought would be spent by Manchester United this summer. Is that a sign of the club backing you particularly or do you think it’s a case of the market being what it is?
I already thinkg I gave an answer on that question. If you want to compete at the top then you don’t have a choice. Obviously because I said all the Premier League clubs have spent this kind of money so if you want to play for the first four positions, you have to do it. I think we have the ambition, especially in the long-term, to play for trophies. So we had to do it, I think.
Just on the right-back situation, given it has been spoken about a little this week. Has Diogo Dalot given you enough cause to have faith in him going forward or is that something you might look at, given Aaron Wan-Bissaka has been spoken about as a potential target for Crystal Palace and Dest has been linked with Manchester United?
I think Aaron has shown in the past that he’s a really constant factor in Manchester United so I have all the choice in that. I haven’t seen him that much because over a period he was injured in pre-season, so I didn’t have the chance to see him. What I noticed from the past is that he’s a good option. The last couple of weeks he’s training, so now we have to compete for the right full-back position, clear.
After the two defeats at the start of the season, was more money made available to you in the transfer market? If not, why isn’t a player like Antony, who is obviously gagging to get here, why didn’t you get him sort of two months before, when he might have been cheaper? Was more money given to you, was there a rethink because not only did you lose the first two, the Brentford performance particularly wasn’t great?
I think it’s difficult to answer that question because…
Is that a yes?
It’s hypothetical how things go and you never know how things will go. If you are earlier or later, it’s also a process. First, really quick we identify the positions we want and then you identify the players you want and then it’s a process whether you get them or not. So often more parties are involved, like clubs, players, agents, other clubs. There are many factors which make it complicated. The market develops the financial. Last season was the benchmark, I think only five transfers above £60 million and now I don’t know how many but I think many.
But with regard to more money, that’s not a hypothetical question. Was more money made available to you?
No, there was always money.
The same amount?
No, they make adaptations because of the market. I think we competed well.
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