• Friday, May 24, 2024
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Crystal Palace vs Man United: Ten Hag confident of Europa League spot

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Erik ten Hag remains optimistic about Manchester United‘s chances of securing a Europa League spot as they prepare to face Crystal Palace in a Premier League fixture at Selhurst Park on Monday.

Following Chelsea’s emphatic 5-0 win over West Ham, Manchester United dropped to eighth place in the Premier League standings, tied on points with Chelsea and two points behind sixth-placed Newcastle United.

Meanwhile, Crystal Palace sits comfortably in 14th position.

With their Champions League hopes dashed, United now focuses on qualifying for European competition next season, either through the Europa League or the Europa Conference League.

Ten Hag is prioritizing Europa League qualification, whether by finishing in the top six or winning the FA Cup final against Manchester City.

Borussia Dortmund’s semi-final first leg win against Paris Saint-Germain meant England could no longer secure an extra Champions League spot, while United could still yet miss out on continental football entirely.

That is not something under-fire Ten Hag is even entertaining, with his focus on securing a Europa League place by finishing in the top six or winning the FA Cup final against Manchester City.

“Of course it’s important but we have two opportunities,” Ten Hag said ahead of his injury-hit side’s trip to Crystal Palace on Monday. “There is one in the league and one in the FA Cup final.”

The Dutch tactician acknowledges the financial implications of each competition but believes Manchester United’s stature makes them an attractive destination for players regardless.

Asked about the difference qualifying for Europa League compared to the Europa Conference League would make, the United boss said: “Definitely, it will have an impact on the budget.

“But I’m sure Manchester United is a very attractive team and club to play for, so many players will be very pleased and very happy to play for Manchester United, I’m sure.”

Despite the challenges this season, Ten Hag sees a strong foundation within the squad and emphasizes the impact of injuries on their performance.

A summer of change lies ahead at Old Trafford as INEOS try to take United back to the top.

Whether Ten Hag is there to lead the side forward remains to be seen, but he believes a better foundation than some portray is in place heading into the summer transfer window.

“We know we are still below the levels from the expectations that Manchester United has, so we have to catch up,” he said.

“I’m now going into my fifth window. I think two windows were quite OK, two we missed and we have to make new improvements this summer.

“But also there is a base in this squad which is very good and, yeah, definitely the injuries have had a big impact on our season.”

Palace boss Oliver Glasner aims to exploit any weaknesses in United’s game plan, as his side enters the match on a four-game unbeaten streak, including wins against Liverpool and Newcastle.

As United seeks to climb back into sixth place, Monday’s clash against Palace presents an opportunity to reignite their European qualification hopes under Ten Hag’s leadership.