Erik ten Hag says he “doesn’t care” about Pep Guardiola’s tactical plan for the Manchester derby after the Manchester City manager suggested he has a “ridiculous” idea about how to win the game.
Guardiola has since claimed he was joking when he said he had “a few ideas, thoughts, ridiculous ones against United” but ahead of the match at Old Trafford on Saturday, Ten Hag insists he is ready for any surprises.
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“I don’t care about that, what he is thinking,” said Ten Hag at a news conference on Friday.
“He did it more often and we are prepared for that, if he does different things. We have our principles, our rules of football.”
City have won the last three games against United by an aggregate score of 12-4, including a crushing 6-3 victory at the Etihad Stadium in October.
But since that defeat, United have won 15 of their last 18 games and Ten Hag believes his team are ready to go toe-to-toe with Guardiola’s reigning champions.
“If you want to win trophies you have to compete with the best and City are the best, so we look forward to challenging them,” said Ten Hag.
“We have good players but I am convinced our players are good enough to compete with all the players from Manchester City.”
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United have added striker Wout Weghorst to their squad, although the Dutchman will not feature against City because the 30-year-old was not registered in time.
Weghorst joins back-up goalkeeper Jack Butland as the club’s January signings so far and Ten Hag has hinted there might be others arriving before the deadline.
“If there are more opportunities we will be ready for that and looking for that but it has to be once again the right player,” he said.
“With the numbers here I think with the signing of Wout and development of some players here Alejandro Garnacho is the best example but also you see in the week Kobbie Mainoo and Facundo Pellistri, I think also we have some good young players that can also fight for their minutes.”