Erik ten Hag praying Man Utd avoid seventh place finish in Premier League


Manchester United cannot qualify for the Champions League after a miserable Premier League campaign and incoming boss Erik ten Hag already has plans for how they will approach European football’s other two competitions

Erik ten Hag will take charge of Manchester United this summer
Erik ten Hag will take charge of Manchester United this summer

Incoming Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag is praying the club are not in the Europa Conference League next season.

But the current Ajax boss will have no problems navigating the Europa League – with a route into Champions League the prize for winning UEFA’s second club competition.

With entry into Europe’s elite Champions League now gone for United, Ten Hag is hoping his new club can avoid finishing seventh which would mean playing in the Conference League next season. Ten Hag believes with some new faces and current players buying into his methods the picture is not all doom and gloom.

Although he recognises it’ll be a big job to arrest the decline and make United more competitive. The European picture for next season is complicated with West Ham and Leicester still in the hunt to win the Europa and Conference Leagues respectively. But as it stands, with Liverpool having won the Carabao Cup and competing with Chelsea for the FA Cup next month, teams which finish sixth or seventh in the Premier will be in contention for either the Europa League or the Conference. If United finished eighth they would have no European football next season – giving ten Hag more time to shape the club’s future.

Meanwhile, interim United boss Ralf Rangnick admits Old Trafford is not an appealing destination for top players without the cherry of Champions League football. Rangnick, who is poised to move into a two-year consultancy role at United when the season ends, also urged the Red Devils to stop making glamourous signings and instead focus their efforts on promising young players.

Rangnick claimed Manchester City, Liverpool and Chelsea now have the edge over United when it comes to signing Europe’s leading players. Rangnick thinks United should be in the market for the likes of Borussia Dortmund star Erling Haaland, but agreed rivals who can offer Champions League football have the upper hand.

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Erik ten Hag has previously guided Ajax to the Champions League semi-finals
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The German handed Ten Hag a brutal reality check, by claiming they must readjust their transfer targets after such a poor season. He said: “My opinion is the club should try to find future top players and try to develop them. Haaland is 21, this is one of those players. He has developed into one of the most expensive strikers in the world.

“He would be one of those examples who I think the emphasis should be on, to convince players who should be Manchester United players for the next few years. It’s obvious the club and team needs new players. Some players have no contracts any more and some are not available, some might want more game time and are on loan already. It’s obvious the club needs quite a few new players. You need mentality, quality, physicality, skills – the full package.

“But as soon as other clubs like Chelsea Liverpool and Manchester City are involved, you need some good reasons. Someone needs to explain to the players [why they should join United] and that’s why it’s important what Erik thinks. I know from Jurgen Klopp and Thomas Tuchel, if they want players they talk to them and the same is probably true of Pep Guardiola. They speak to them, find out about their mentality and character and if they are the right fit.”

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