Can I get your reaction to the fact that Harry Maguire is not now joining West Ham? From your perspective, what happened to ensure that that deal didn’t go through?
Well, that process, that’s what I don’t know. Only Harry is a player from us, I’m happy he’s here. So, we need a good squad. We have four good centre-halves, even with Luke Shaw if you count him we have five, and we need that because we’re going to play 50 or 60 games this season. All the players are internationals, so we have a lot of load to cover. So, I’m very happy Harry Maguire is here. He has to fight for his position, as everyone in the squad. So, we construct a squad with the double positions, but we need it.
When you say he has to fight for his place, realistically, what do you think he can expect in terms of game time? What opportunities will there be for him?
It’s up to him.
What does he have to show you?
He knows what I expect from him.
Can you expand on that for us and tell us what you expect?
I think I’m now for one year here. You know what I expect from a centre-half and he can do it. I told you many times before he has the abilities to do it, so now he has to show it. It’s about character, to be convinced to play that role. He has all the abilities to do it, and it’s up to him when the time is there.
Does that mean as well in this transfer window, you’re not looking to bring in another centre-half because obviously you said the options that you already have here? And do you feel you still need to do business in the window in other positions as well? If so, what is it you feel you need to do before that window shuts?
Our squad is covered. All the positions are covered. But yeh, of course we are Man United, we are always looking for improvement. When there’s the opportunity, we will strike also in the last two weeks.
Home form has been very impressive over the course of the last year, but it’s been difficult at the sort of bigger away games. How will that be put right do you think, this season?
Well, this is one of the aims we have for this season, that we have to step up in away games to get more points, to bring higher levels, because that is the foundation for, of course, for more points. So, it’s often to do with personality. So yeh, that’s the demand from me on the players and that we have to show more personality on the pitch to win such games. And so to get more points in away games.
Do you have any injury issues or any team news? And were you able to give players more minutes in the practice game with Everton this week?
Yeh, I think it’s very helpful to give players the minutes at the start of the season, come back in 90 minutes after pre-season. It’s not that we had a pre-season for six weeks, it was more or less four or five weeks. So, we need such games to give all the players the opportunity to get into the season.
Lisandro obviously went off at half-time on Monday. Is he going to be available to face Tottenham?
He was just training, so I think so, yeh.
And in terms of the rest of your squad, you obviously say you’re happy with it. If you want to go into the market over the next couple of weeks, is that going to be dependent on players leaving first?
As I said, we always looking for opportunities, but I think we have a good squad and with this squad, we are convinced that we can go for our targets.
The club put out a statement about Mason Greenwood yesterday. With that hanging over you, with the ownership situation still unresolved, how much does that affect you and the players? Is it easy to ignore? Is it something that concerns you a lot?
No. We focus on way of play, we focus on team performance. It’s about the players who are available. And so, we’re focusing now on Tottenham Hotspur. And every start of the season is difficult. We know that. We are really aware of it, so we had the start [against Wolves]. We know the performance was not what we hoped, but we want [to win] and it showed the character and the personality and that is one of the things we had to step up in, according to last season.
Your job is clearly preparing for Tottenham, but Manchester United’s women’s team obviously have several players involved in a World Cup final this weekend. I just wonder how you feel about those women being out there, what your message is to them as a club this weekend?
Oh, it’s great. First, a Dutch manager doing a great job for England. She’s doing a great job for England, so I’m very proud of her. Coming from a Dutch school. But of course, I am a supporter and a fan of the England women’s team and I really cross my fingers and hope that they return with the World Cup.
Can I ask about Jonny Evans’s situation? When does that short-term contract he signed run until? What do you see happening with Jonny? Does this situation depend on Harry Maguire?
The last, no. No, it doesn’t affect that. We will see. We are in talks and when we have news, we will bring that as always.
So, is he under contract as it stands?
In this moment, not. I have to say, it’s a short for month [July], he’s under contract. But we are talking.
Would you like him to stay?
Yeah. Otherwise, we would not talk.
There was a graphic after the Wolves game which showed Casemiro was quite isolated with the other players in the team so attack minded. Is that an issue or a concern for you? Not only is Casemiro on his own there but if he’s injured or suspended it doesn’t appear as though you’ve got a defensive midfielder to come in and replace him.
First, I didn’t see it that way. I thought he was surrounded by Luke Shaw, Martinez and Mason Mount. But definitely it’s a new midfield. We have to step up there. We have to improve. I agree and I disagree, we have to improve it. In possession we were absolutely no good. So we didn’t meet our principles in our possession game and then you don’t get a good game. And when the players make so many unforced errors, which is well below our standards, or what my players of capable of, but it can happen. But I have already seen in pre-season we can do much better. I’ve seen last year, of course, we can do much better. So I’m sure they will improve quickly.
Do you see Scott McTominay as the alternative? Do you see him as a defensive player or an attacking player? For Scotland, he’s quite handy scoring goals. But there’s a feeling he would have to take on a more defensive role if he does come in.
But of course last year he played that role, so he’s capable of doing it. And I don’t he’s not there yet, but Kobbie Mainoo. We have seen him against Arsenal. He’s also ready to play that role but at this moment is not available. But in two months he will be available and when winter is coming up for certain he will have his games.
Obviously the club have to tour during pre-season. There was a lot of travel. Have you detected any tiredness in the squad or jet lag or overhang for all that you did in pre-season?
Absolutely. But not only pre-season but it’s accumulated. Again, FIFA and UEFA, we have to look at the schedule. And now the added extra-time will not help, every time, it will increase the load on the players and it’s not right.
Is it something that you saw, first game of the season, a tiredness in the players?
But if you mean that’s an excuse, it isn’t. We have to perform. And I think all the teams have to deal with it.
You talked about the personality to win games and win points. You’ve got a goalkeeper now who clearly has a big personality. But you know the accusations the other night about the penalty the other night, which is past now, but does it concern you that his personality and his enthusiasm might need to be curbed a little bit?
I think he is very proactive and that is what we want. We want proactive players. But of course he has to manage himself as well. I will encourage, I like it when players are proactive and on the front foot. That is the kind of player we need.
Just talking about the midfield. Do you think Mason Mount can play deeper against Casemiro if necessary? Or is he more someone who plays a no.8 or no.10 role?
I think he can. Already, we have seen it in pre-season, but it’s what I’ve said, definitely we have to work on many facets of our game but also that facet about midfield and the co-operation, how we have to set it. I’m sure we will get it, but it’s not coming overnight and if it was easier then everyone could do it.
Do you think because Chelsea often used him more further forward it could take a little bit of time to get used to the new duties of a deeper role?
Christian Eriksen, last season, came in and had the same. First time in his life he played in a deeper role and that was the ambition from Christian and then also the ambition from Mason. And so he wants to be more multifunctional. That’s the way I see football, but as I say, it will not come overnight. There’s a process we have to go through, but he’s very game-intelligent. He has the technical abilities, has also good vision on the ball. He knows how to deal with the ball. He has the dynamics, don’t forget that. He has the mentality. So, all the ingredients are there to do it.
Just on Mason Greenwood. Richard Arnold will make the final call on what happens with him but do you envisage him playing for you this season?
I refer to the statement. I’m focussing on games, focussing on my team, focussing on the players that are available, so for the rest I refer to the club statement.
Finally, for the game on Saturday, what have you made of Tottenham’s opening weekend and change of style from what they had previously?
You know, I respect every opponent. It’s about how we play against this opponent.