Erik ten Hag issues top four warning to Man Utd players after dramatic Brighton defeat
Manchester United’s loss at Brighton has slightly opened the door for Liverpool, who are trying to chase them down for fourth spot, with a return to the Champions League vital for the Red Devils
Erik ten Hag has warned it is “vital” for Manchester United’s long term future to get into the Champions League next season.
United are still favourites to make the top four but Liverpool ’s five game winning run has suddenly left ten Hag looking over his shoulder. Liverpool, who face Brentford on Saturday tea time, could even reduce the gap to a single point by the time United face West Ham on Sunday night.
Ten Hag insists his players will get over the line and get the job done but he spelt out the reasons as to why it is so important that Old Trafford hosts Champions League football next season.
United boss ten Hag said: “ Manchester United need to be there in the Champions League. We want to be there because we want to challenge the best teams in the world so we do everything in our power to get that done.
“I think it is always vital that we have to be in the Champions League. It is a battle because many teams and clubs in the Premier League are competing for it and they have the power to fight for that as well. We want to be there and will do everything to get there.
“But I just explained we had a quite good run, four wins and a draw from the last five. We have everything in our hands so we have to focus on our performance. I trust my players. I am quite confident about that.”
United do have a game in hand over Liverpool but suddenly they cannot afford any more slip-ups, having dropped points at Tottenham last week and lost at Brighton on Thursday night.
The ramifications could be huge for United with the ownership still not resolved and also in terms of finance and summer recruitment. United making the top four would be huge in terms of who they can recruit and, while Tottenham do not want to sell Harry Kane, any idea they could get him would disappear completely if they are not in the Champions League.
United also face a tough schedule as going to West Ham on a Sunday night could be tricky but especially now as David Moyes’ men have picked up some form. But ten Hag insists his players will pick up their heads again after the Brighton setback and the nature of the defeat, losing to Alexis Mac Allister’s injury time penalty.
Ten Hag said: “We have every time in the season when we had a defeat then we bounced back. I count on my team, we have to do it again. There is no time to stay in this, in one hour we move onto the game against West Ham. Prepare them and make a good plan. The players have to take responsibility and I count on them and they can do that.”
United have beaten West Ham twice already this season – including a win in the FA Cup – but ten Hag expects another tough test against former Old Trafford boss Moyes.
Ten Hag added: “It is an experience, he is a fantastic manager for so long in the Premier League already. I am looking forward to it, we’ve faced them twice already this season. It is going to be another great game. Every game is a battle and a challenge so we have to be ready.”