Ten Hag curbs optimism with Casemiro

The season advances and Manchester United advances. He progresses, even if he takes a step back from time to time. Thursday night looked pleasant with visiting Cypriot side Omonia in the Europa League, but Scott McTominay had to come to the rescue to win all three points at the last moment. Good performances against teams like Liverpool or Arsenal are followed by more discreet matches, like the one on Thursday, or stumbles like against Real Sociedad and Manchester City more recently. Erik ten Hag was satisfied at a press conference, although he explained that he expects more from his people.

Marcus Rashford is the team’s top scorer with five goals, but he missed plenty of chances tonight. Do you trust his potential and that of the rest of the attackers?

Yes, I trust. In my team there are players who find a good position and who have goals. In those final meters they must have freedom of movement and intuition, know how to take advantage of the spaces and when that happens, and they have the potential to do so, they can reach those scoring figures. We have players like that in our squad, but we also have to spread the goals because we have a lot of attacking scorers, and you also need the midfielders and even the defenders to contribute.

How do you think you can improve Rashford’s finishing?

He did a lot of things well, but he knows he has to finish better and score goals. When you make such good moves, combinations and actions that good, you have to finish them. But sometimes you don’t have your day. That can change for the next game because he is on a roll and creating good chances. Although in the last two games he did not have much luck. On Sunday he deserved a goal but it was disallowed, and on Thursday it was perhaps more his fault. But he will score.

Casemiro has a string of starts and on Thursday Fred was up to the task replacing Eriksen, who do you think is your best midfielder?

It is difficult to say now which is the best pair of midfielders, they still need to play together longer. The important thing is that we need a good squad. Fred played a good game on Thursday, he was good pressing and recovered several balls. He had a good chance to score, making a good move, but he was unlucky. That’s the kind of impact I hope they give the team. We have several combinations, and in the central midfield we need balance. I’m happy with all of them and I hope they continue like this.

Your next rivals are Newcastle United, Tottenham, Chelsea… how do you face the challenge that will be presented to you in the coming weeks with such a demanding schedule?

We go game by game. Gives another boost to the team to believe. We have a good spirit, and with these challenges the squad can gain a lot of confidence. He has no more. They are tough rivals, tough challenges, but we want to face them. Match by match.

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Ten Hag curbs optimism with Casemiro