Erik ten Hag in Manchester United press conference ahead of Brighton fixture

Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag spoke to the media on Friday lunchtime, looking ahead to Sunday’s Premier League opener at Old Trafford against Brighton & Hove Albion.

United, who finished their pre-season preparations with a 1-1 draw against Rayo Vallecano on Sunday, will be eager to get off to a winning start and collect three points. The Reds had a mixed preseason, winning three, drawing two, and losing one of their six friendlies.

Despite their indifferent results, there was plenty to be positive about, with victories over Liverpool, Melbourne Victory, and Crystal Palace in particular featuring some very eye-catching individual performances as well as strong collective showings.

The focus now shifts to the Premier League’s bread and butter, a clash with Graham Potter’s Seagulls.

Ten Hag confirmed that Anthony Martial will miss the game due to injury, but refused to say whether Cristiano Ronaldo will take his place.

Erik ten Hag insists he is pleased with the state of Manchester United’s midfield despite the absence of reinforcements.

United have not signed an outright central midfielder since Fred in 2018, and the departure of Nemanja Matic has left the club without a recognised defensive midfielder.

The club has agreed a fee of €85 million with Barcelona for midfielder Frenkie de Jong, but the transfer is approaching the 13-week mark.

Erik ten Hag also reacted angrily when asked about Cristiano Ronaldo’s decision to leave Manchester United’s friendly against Rayo Vallecano early due to ongoing speculation about his future.

Ronaldo was the only player in Sunday’s 1-1 draw against Vallecano at Old Trafford who left before the final whistle, which Ten Hag described as “unacceptable” in a midweek interview with a Dutch broadcaster.

Erik ten Hag’s first press conference of the season was brief and to the point. He has confirmed that Anthony Martial will miss Sunday’s game due to an injury. He would not, however, confirm or deny whether Cristiano Ronaldo will replace him.

Rio Ferdinand makes top-four prediction

Ferdinand has predicted Liverpool will finish the season as runners-up and be joined in the top-four by Tottenham and Man United, with Chelsea and Arsenal both missing out on the Champions League places.

“I can’t look any further than Man City,’ the former England defender told William Hill. ‘Recruitment has been efficient and with [Erling] Haaland, they’ve got the best in the market.

“And [they’ve got] squad depth with someone like [Kalvin] Phillips as well. The only one I think will be a loss for them is [Raheem] Sterling, but I feel this season [Jack] Grealish will step up and become one of the main men.

“The top four will be Manchester City, Liverpool, Spurs and Manchester United, in that order.”