Erik ten Hag says his 12 months in the Old Trafford hotseat have laid foundations for lasting success and challenged his squad to now take the next step. He hopes summer acquisitions Andre Onana, Mason Mount, Jonny Evans and the currently sidelined striker Rasmus Hojlund can help United close a 14 points gap on Manchester City, with the Red Devils not finished in the market yet.
“Managers always want more, I think every manager you ask wants more but it is more about the mentality in top football,” he said. “We have to demand the maximum and because we also do that from our players and the fans expect it from us so always look for the perfect situation. But you also know you never get the perfect situation and you have to work on that to get the perfect results.”
United prepare to welcome Wolves to Old Trafford tonight and Ten Hag maintained his squad must build on a first season which delivered the Carabao Cup and a top four finish. Asked to reflect on a rollercoaster first year in charge Ten Hag admitted the club have already made bigger strides than he expected.
“I think we couldn’t expect this where we are now, we look back for one year and where we ended it, in third place, losing FA Cup final but winning another trophy,” said the United boss.
“We have shown we could beat all the good teams, the best teams in the world and we have a really good foundation and now we have to work on it and do it consistently. We have a good foundation and now we work well, with the right efforts in and we will be more successful and I believe we can make that step.”
The future for Harry Maguire remains up in the air despite West Ham and United having agreed a £30m deal in principle. When quizzed Ten Hag suggested Maguire challenged the England defender to stay and fight for a starting place.
He added: “He has to fight for his place. He has the ability to be first choice centre back as he is the best for England so why shouldn’t he be the best for us? So he has to prove it. When he is not confident enough to fight then he has to make a decision and go.
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“We don’t have the squad with 11 players, last year proved definitely we need all the players so you need some high level players who are maybe not starting. In the squad now all the positions are double and every player has the perspective to fight for his place. It is up to the players if they have game time or less.”
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