Ten Hag: Man Utd ‘belong in the Champions League’ – ‘Difficult’ to judge Antony, Shaw injuries

·3-min read
Erik ten Hag applauds the fans after Man Utd beat Chelsea at Old Trafford Credit: Alamy
Erik ten Hag applauds the fans after Man Utd beat Chelsea at Old Trafford Credit: Alamy

Erik ten Hag has urged his players to “keep focus” whilst emphasising the importance of avoiding injuries as Man Utd prepare for the FA Cup final after securing a top-four finish in the Premier League with a 4-1 win over Chelsea.

The Red Devils brushed the Blues aside at Old Trafford thanks to goals from Casemiro, Anthony Martial, Bruno Fernandes and Marcus Rashford, who bagged his 30th of the season after a sloppy pass by Wesley Fofana.

The victory sealed a return to the Champions League at the expense of arch-rivals Liverpool and propelled Ten Hag’s side up to third above Newcastle.

A top-four finish reflects a solid debut season for the Dutch manager, with success in the Carabao Cup making it a terrific one.

“This club belongs in the Champions League,” Ten Hag told Sky Sports after the win against Chelsea. “It’s not easy in the Premier League so a lot compete for that. It’s massive when you get it done.

“We wanted to win. We showed the winning attitude. Chelsea have outstanding players but in the counter attacks we were really good, really dangerous.

“We scored four in the end. We should’ve scored more but they could score as well.

“Our defence was better second half. First half we had problems between the lines. They played without pressure, could go forward.

“You have to strike them and take advantage of the spaces you get and we didn’t always. Second goal was late in the first half and could’ve been earlier.”

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Man Utd host Fulham on Sunday as the Premier League campaign comes to an end, with an FA Cup final against Man City coming up on June 3.

Asking his focus for the next game, Ten Hag said: “Still we can be third in the league. It’s important to keep focus, not getting injuries as well. But also get a home record.

“It’s going to be an important game, we want to win that game.”

Antony was stretchered off in the first half with what looked like an ankle injury, while Luke Shaw was replaced by Tyrell Malacia at half-time, and Ten Hag said it is “difficult to say” the extent of their injuries, adding: “Wait for 24 hours and we’ll know more.”

Man Utd midfielder and scorer of the third goal, Bruno Fernandes, said it “means a lot” to qualify for the Champions League.

He said: “[Getting the Champions League] is decent, it’s not perfect because we want more. For what we did this season it’s perfect.

“We get the trophy which was our goal after seeing we couldn’t get the Premier League. Now it’s about finishing the league well and going to FA Cup.

“We know it means a lot [to the fans]. For us it’s about getting our goals. We know we’d be happy also for Liverpool to not be there but for us it’s about getting the best for ourselves.”

On the upcoming FA Cup final against City, Fernandes added: “It’s about winning the trophy. We have to take the trophy away from someone. We want to win the FA Cup. We know it’s really important here.

“We know if we win it we stop the option for City getting the treble but for us it’s about getting another trophy.”

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