Ten Hag uses Casemiro to make Champions League point despite ‘clear’ objective

Will Ford
Man Utd duo Ten Hag and Casemiro

Erik ten Hag insists Manchester United “have to play Champions League football” but explained why the lack of it wouldn’t hamper the progress of the club.

The Dutch boss has turned things around at Old Trafford this season, guiding United to win the League Cup trophy, with two further pieces of silverware in the offing as they look to cement themselves in the top four.

And Ten Hag is adamant that Champions League football is a must for his side.

“One thing let’s make clear, we have to play Champions League football,” Ten Hag said.

“A club like Manchester United has to act in the Champions League, so there’s no misunderstanding.”

Asked if being in the Champions League makes United more attractive to potential summer signings, he said: “Of course we are more interesting when we are in the Champions League.

“But I think even when we’re not we are still attractive for players. I have noticed that also last year when we were not in the Champions League.

“But I want to make my point clear: we have to be in the Champions League.

“We have two paths. One is the Premier League, being in the top four, or win the Europa League, so they are the two paths.”

United are well-placed to qualify for the Champions League as things stand but would drop out of the top four if they lose to Newcastle on Sunday and Tottenham beat Everton on Monday.

And despite the Champions League requirement, Ten Hag used Casemiro’s arrival at the club to illustrate why failure to secure a place in Europe’s showcase competition wouldn’t be the end of the world.

“I think a very good example is Casemiro,” said Ten Hag, whose side face Sevilla in the Europa League quarter-finals. “He won everything, including the Champions League, but he was willing to come to Manchester United.

“Even when we were playing in the Europa League because this club attracts people, it’s very interesting for them and they want to be part of this club.”

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