At the time of writing, Manchester United are in no position to be playing in the Champions League following their dismal 2021/22 season, with their tally of 58 points accumulated being the worst in the club’s Premier League history.
That translated into a sixth-place finish and entry into next season’s Europa League but Erik ten Hag, the club’s new manager, has targeted a swift return to the Champions League.
In his impressive unveiling earlier this week, Ten Hag also suggested that he was ready to take on Liverpool and Manchester City, arguing that their era at the top of English football could be ended.
Some may feel that those remarks are a bit too optimistic but the 53-year-old has now suggested that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s final season at the club, when they finished second behind Manchester City, proves that there is potential to capture.
“That we have to accept the current situation but also that they have a good potential,” Ten Hag told the official Manchester United website when asked what his message to the players would be.
“A year before this team was second in the league, so the potential is there. Learn the lessons from this season, we have to analyse clearly what went wrong. But from then on work hard, get a team and fight the opponents.”
At the end of the last season, just before the Europa League final in Gdansk, optimism was through the roof at Manchester United and there was a real feeling of the club being on the cusp of restoring its glory days.
The summer signings added to that sentiment, with Cristiano Ronaldo, Raphael Varane and Jadon Sancho all joining the club in high-profile deals.
Sadly, the season unraveled as quickly as it started and United now find themselves in a world of bother but as Ten Hag points out, a second-place finish 12 months ago is not a fluke.
Granted, there are several players at the club that need to be moved on and up to six players are already certain to leave on free transfers but the core of the squad is still good enough to compete. Ten Hag’s job is to capture that talent and turn it into results.