Erik ten Hag sets target to qualify for Champions League in his first season with Manchester United

Erik ten Hag is choosing not to over-promise ahead of his first season with Manchester United. While there is a long term goal of toppling Liverpool and Manchester City, the Dutchman is keen to take it step by step.

In an interview with United’s official website, Ten Hag explains that finishing in the top four is his initial target.

United will be playing Europa League football in Ten Hag’s first season after the club finished in sixth place, just about, in 2020/21.

The new manager wants to correct this, and get United back into the Champions League as quickly as possible.

Photo by Ash Donelon/Manchester United via Getty Images

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Erik ten Hag sets target to qualify for Champions League

Ten Hag explained: “This is the project, to bring Man United back on top, but also we have to accept the current situation we are in. First of all, Man United belong in the Champions League, so that will be the first target.”

“We want to win every game and that has to be the attitude from everyone. Players, but also staff and all the other ones in the club. Every game is important and we will give our best every game to win and to come forward.”

In his first interview he stressed this too, commenting: “We have to return as quickly as possible to that competition.”

There are two routes to doing so, by finishing in the top four, or by winning the Europa League.

United need to win silverware, so nobody would say no to winning the Europa League in Ten Hag’s first season. But qualifying via league position would offer an equally strong indication of progress.

After finishing sixth this season, a top four finish in Ten Hag’s first season would signify Manchester United are moving forward.

A top four finish would give United a platform for which to kick on further, in future seasons.

He wants to take it game by game, by making United more competitive, harder to beat, and more unified.

Ten Hag explained: “We have to go from game to game and don’t look forward too far. I live by the day and the first game is always the most important game.”

Photo by Ash Donelon/Manchester United via Getty Images

United will find out the opening Premier League fixtures when they are announced on June 16.

In pre-season United will face Liverpool, Crystal Palace and Aston Villa, plus Melbourne Victory, and Ten Hag believes facing Premier League opposition will be useful for him.

He said: “Useful, yes, definitely because we have to get a way of playing. We have to present our way of playing. With our way I mean the Man United way. We will give rules and principles, so we’re bringing in structures and we use that opposition to bring in the structure we want together. That will be useful to get a good start in the season.”

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