Man Utd manager Erik ten Hag reacts to Europa League draw

Manchester United are back in the Europa League this season and Erik ten Hag has learned who his opponents will be after the group stage draw took place earlier on Friday.

Ten Hag will have to deal with long away trips to Moldova and Cyprus for games against FC Sheriff and Omonia as the Dutchman eyes to go all the way.

United won this competition in 2017, coincidentally beating Ajax in the final in Stockholm. Ten Hag would take the reigns at the Amsterdam club just six months later.

Two games against Real Sociedad are also on the agenda, with a trip back to Anoeta for the first time since 2013. United faced Real Sociedad in 2021 but the away game was played at a neutral venue.

“Europe is always something special and you don’t know your opponents that well,” Ten Hag is quoted as saying by the official Manchester United website.

Read more: Erik ten Hag refuses to speak to Sky Sports journalist

“Real Sociedad are a really great club in Spain, now sixth in the league, and I saw them, coincidentally, play at the weekend against Barcelona and they competed really well so they will be tough opponents.

“There are the other two teams too – Sheriff beat Real Madrid last year, so they must be good. We have to be really well prepared to do well in this competition.”

Exact dates for the group stage matches are yet to be confirmed by UEFA but Ten Hag will be hoping for the long away trips as late as possible, with qualification hopefully sealed by then already.

SN’s verdict…
It’s going to be interesting to see how Ten Hag uses the Europa League this season. In the first half of the 2019/20 season, it was certainly a distraction and burden for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

Similarly to that year, Ten Hag has a small squad to choose from after nine senior players left the club so far. Only four have been signed but the Dutchman is keen to add to his squad before next week’s transfer deadline.

United are one of the favourites to win the tournament this year and with competition increasing domestically, winning the Europa League may be seen as a route into next season’s Champions League.

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