New Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag has given a wide-ranging interview as the club prepare to get their pre-season tour underway.
Ten Hag and his squad have touched down in Thailand ahead of facing arch rivals Liverpool in a so-called friendly in Bangkok on Tuesday, after which they will head to Australia for games against Melbourne Victory, Crystal Palace and Aston Villa.
Before boarding the flight, the Dutchman sat down with Manchester United’s in-house media to provide an update on how the early stages of preparations for the 2022/23 campaign had been progressing, and also reacted to the signing of full-back Tyrell Malacia.
“Of course, I want to bring the energy in my team, but I must say, the players do really well,” he said. “They are really focused. They bring, for themselves, the energy. You see they enjoy playing football. They enjoy playing football together and they really work well together.
“I have to learn, to know my squad, the personalities, the individuals, the players. That is, I think, one of the biggest advantages from the tour, we have two weeks to work really close together and we will learn about each other because I want to learn about them and they want to learn about me, my coaches and assistant managers.”
Asked about Malacia’s arrival, Ten Hag added: “He’s a player, so I think he’s the modern left-back or full-back.
“He suits the profile and most important is, from every full-back, that he closes the right area, but he can also take part in the offensive side of our game, and he can do that really well. And I think he will really contribute to the team.”
Outlining the kind of playing philosophy he wants to instil at Old Trafford, Ten Hag added: “We want to play a proactive style of football – on the ball and off the ball. That is, trying to do that has to be our intentions and it’s now, firstly, the coaches bring it over to the team that we are, in every situation, proactive.
“We are brave and willing to have the ball, to give each other options. But also off the ball, to get the pressing style is what we’re working for together.”
Man Utd face a big test when they get their pre-season tour underway against Liverpool at 2pm (BST) on Tuesday in Bangkok.
Cristiano Ronaldo has not been included in the initial squad for the tour. Although the official line is that he has been given extended time off for ‘family reasons’, Ronaldo has told United he wants to leave the club amid interest from Chelsea.