Erik ten Hag makes Champions League qualification ‘first target’ for Man Utd

The Dutchman officially started as manager at Old Trafford on Monday

Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag has made Champions League qualification his ‘first target’ for next season (Manchester United handout).
Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag has made Champions League qualification his ‘first target’ for next season (Manchester United handout).

Erik ten Hag is determined to get Manchester United challenging for titles again but his “first target” next season is Champions League qualification.

Having masterminded a third Eredivisie title as manager of Ajax, the 52-year-old swiftly turned his attention to the work at hand at Old Trafford after a wretched season for the Red Devils.

Ten Hag was at Sunday’s meek 1-0 loss to Crystal Palace and officially started as manager the following day, when he met all manner of United staff and was unveiled to the media.

The Dutchman has big plans for the club but accepts it will take time to turn things around, with Champions League qualification the least he is hoping for in his first season.

“I said this is the project to bring Man United back on top, but also we have to accept the current situation we are in,” Ten Hag said.

“First of all, Man United belong in the Champions League, so that will be the first target.”

United narrowly avoided falling into the Europa Conference League on the final day, meaning the club will compete in next season’s Europa League, FA Cup and Carabao Cup.

“Important (to win silverware),” the Dutchman told club media. “For me, every game is important. 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.”

Ten Hag spoke about breaking the duopoly of Liverpool and Manchester City at his unveiling, while expressing admiration for managers Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola.

The latter has had a particularly noteworthy impact on the 52-year-old, having been manager of Bayern Munich when the United boss was in charge of the club’s reserve team.

“I really look forward (to facing him) and I admire him for the way he wants to play,” Ten Hag added. “He has also inspired me by the way he wins titles. But also I look forward to battling him.”

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