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Erik ten Hag admits Champions League qualification is vital

Erik ten Hag admits Champions League qualification is vital
© Reuters
Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag admits that it is vital his side qualify for the 2024-25 Champions League for financial reasons.

Manchester United head coach Erik ten Hag has said that it is absolutely vital his side qualify for the 2024-25 Champions League for financial reasons.

The 20-time English champions have had a difficult campaign, but they will enter Sunday's clash with Aston Villa off the back of three successive victories in all competitions.

Man United have won their last two in the Premier League against Wolverhampton Wanderers and West Ham United, with the Red Devils currently sixth in the table, eight points behind fifth-placed Villa ahead of Sunday's contest at Villa Park.

Ten Hag's side, meanwhile, are nine points behind fourth-placed Tottenham Hotspur, who have played a game more.

Man United's head coach has refused to play down the importance of securing Champions League football for next season, as it will give the club more power in the transfer market.

Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag reacts on December 26, 2023© Reuters

"Yeah, it's very important to play Champions League. That is clear so we don't have to discuss this. And what is exactly the impact in this moment, I don't know," Ten Hag told reporters during his press conference ahead of the clash with Villa.

"But yeah, of course you have more financial power when you were achieving the Champions League. And so that is all our target, absolutely."

Ten Hag was also asked about recently bringing youngsters into the Man United first-team squad, with 18-year-old Kobbie Mainoo becoming a vital player for the Dutchman in recent weeks.

"Yeah, it's more easy to bring, to integrate young talent into a successful team. That's true. And so the conditions where we had to bring Kobbie Mainoo in that moment, it was not," he said.

Manchester United's Alejandro Garnacho celebrates scoring their second goal with Rasmus Hojlund and Kobbie Mainoo on February 4, 2024© Reuters

"So it was not really that, you know, on forehand that will be a success. I had that confidence because I saw him performing. I saw him performing in autumn, I saw him progressing during spring and in summer I had that game from Arsenal in my mind, so I didn't have any doubt.

"But when he's coming in the team, he has to do it, many things he has to do on his own because when there are a lot of routines in the team, it's much more easier to come in. That's true, but we are not in that situation. I think this club is already not in that situation for a long time.

"So for many years, Manchester United is not in that position and so we are now building a team that can really offer a foundation for players to come in. We built a foundation that really can add quality players into a squad that brings the team to the next levels."

Man United struggled in the group stage of this season's Champions League, only picking up four points from their six matches, suffering four defeats in the process.

The Red Devils are expected to overhaul their squad this summer as part of a rebuild under incoming minority shareholder Sir Jim Ratcliffe.

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