Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag said on Friday he is far from alone among Premier League coaches in facing pressure to deliver a top-four finish.
United resume their Premier League campaign after the World Cup break at home to Nottingham Forest on Tuesday. The Red Devils are fifth, three points behind fourth-placed Tottenham with a game in hand.
United finished sixth last season and failed to qualify for the Champions League.
A top-four finish that would ensure a return to European football’s elite competition is one of the key staging posts in Ten Hag’s mission to restore past glories.
Asked if United’s history created more pressure, Ten Hag told reporters: “I accept it, how it is.
“But I think also for the manager of Chelsea (Graham Potter), of Newcastle (Eddie Howe), all those clubs invest a lot in their squad. So for every manager it’s a big pressure to get into the Champions League, that’s clear.
“You want to be in the top four, to fight for trophies, and that’s our aim.”
“We are aware the competition is tough, but I think it counts for all the seven, eight clubs who are fighting for the top four.
“You have to really battle for every duel to get your points. I’m looking at the process, how we’re performing, and of course we have to get the results as well. But if the process is right, when we get the right progress, I think we have a good chance to get into that top four.”
United eased into the quarter-finals of the League Cup with a 2-0 win over Burnley on Wednesday in their first competitive match since the World Cup.
Neither of United’s World Cup finalists, Lisandro Martinez, an unused substitute for Argentina, and Raphael Varane, a member of the France side that lost on penalties, were in the squad against Burnley and Ten Hag would not say if they would be back against Forest.
“I can’t answer that question now,” he said when asked about Martinez.
“He has been celebrating in Buenos Aires.”
“It’s the highest you can achieve. But also, Lisandro has to understand that on December 27th the Premier League is back!”
Ten Hag said Varane, a World Cup winner in 2018, could also be proud.
“Of course he is disappointed about losing but I think also he can be proud that he was again in that final and of all that he achieved already in his career.”
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