Man Utd boss Erik ten Hag on absence of Champions League football: ‘Still an attractive club for players’ | Football News

Erik ten Hag insists Manchester United are still an attractive club for players despite missing out on Champions League football for next season.

United are battling to qualify for Europe for next season, but will not feature in the Champions League in 2024/25.

They remain eighth in the Premier League and will need to better Newcastle’s result in their last game to claim a place in the Europa Conference League – or they can secure a Europa League spot, should they get the better of Manchester City in the FA Cup final at Wembley.

Speaking to the media on Thursday, Ten Hag was adamant United will still be a place players will want to move to despite a lack of Champions League football.

He said: “I’m not thinking about a negative scenario. We have the opportunity [to qualify for the Europa League], and it is in our own hands so we need to go for it.

“I’m thinking positive. I’m a positive man and it’s in our own hands, so we have to go for it.”

When pressed on the impact of being out of the Champions League in terms of signing players, he added: “For every player Manchester United is a very attractive club.

“Of course, you want to play at the highest levels but if you want to go into a project at a club like Man Utd, I’m sure United are an attractive club for every player.”

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Watch highlights from the Premier League match between Manchester United and Newcastle United

United could still finish the season with a trophy if they can go one better than last season and beat Man City in the FA Cup final on May 25.

It would add to the Carabao Cup success Ten Hag guided the club to last season, but United, who have seen Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s INEOS come in and take charge of football operations, will finish well below their third place behind Arsenal and champions Man City from last season.

Despite their disappointing league performance this year, Ten Hag believes the club are in a better place 12 months on from the last campaign.

“I think we’ve developed some young players with high potentials which can add to quality levels of our squad with established, experienced players,” he said.

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Following their 3-2 win over Newcastle United, Ten Hag praised the club’s supporters after a difficult season and said they will do everything they can to beat rivals Manchester City in the FA Cup final

“They can make for a very good mix and be a strong squad to compete at the highest levels. That is also what we showed this season against top teams.

“We have very good players who are very competitive.”

When asked if he sees improvement, he added: “When you look at results, no, but we know the reasons behind it.

“We say yes. We have more high-quality players in the squad – from that perspective in a better position.”

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Ten Hag plays down the exchange between Marcus Rashford and a fan before the Newcastle game, insisting the supporters and players are united

Shaw concern for Euro 2024 with injured defender set to miss FA Cup final

Luke Shaw
Luke Shaw is set to miss the FA Cup final after an injury setback

Luke Shaw’s availability for Euro 2024 looks in jeopardy after Ten Hag said the injured England left-back is a major doubt for the FA Cup final.

The 28-year-old has only managed 15 appearances in an injury-interrupted campaign, with his last coming three months ago in the narrow win at Luton.

Shaw’s return from his latest muscle injury was expected in early May but Ten Hag recently revealed the Euro 2020 final goalscorer had suffered a setback in his rehabilitation.

The United boss says he will struggle to make the FA Cup final, which is a concern for club as well as country as Gareth Southgate names his provisional England squad on Tuesday.

Harry Maguire celebrates doubling Man Utd's lead
Harry Maguire has a better chance of making the cup final, according to Ten Hag

Asked about Shaw and Harry Maguire, who has missed three matches with a muscle complaint of his own, Ten Hag said: “For England I can’t say [if they are available], it’s not up to me. But for the cup final, we’re working on [it] and I think Harry Maguire has a fair chance that he will be available. We plan [for] him.

“Luke is more complicated. In this moment, let’s say it’s a less chance that he will make it but there is still a very small, reduced chance. He had the setback and now we have to find out how far he is.”

England play warm-up friendlies against Bosnia on June 3 and Iceland on June 7, before jetting off to Germany three days later and kicking off the tournament against Serbia on June 16.

UEFA’s move to expand the squad to 26 players means the manager will be able to take a risk on the fitness of a couple of players, like he did in recent tournaments.

Left-back is a problem area for England but whether Shaw is considered far enough along to play a part in Germany remains to be seen.

Varane, Lindelof closing in on returns from injury

Raphael Varane will leave Manchester United when his contract expires in the summer
Raphael Varane is closing in on a return from injury

There is better news when it comes to some of United’s other defenders ahead of Sunday’s Premier League finale at Brighton.

Raphael Varane – who this week confirmed he is leaving this summer at the end of his contract – has returned to training, as has fellow centre-back Victor Lindelof.

“I can’t say in this moment [if anyone will return on Sunday] but we are working to bring players back,” said Ten Hag, whose side beat Newcastle 3-2 on Wednesday.

“We have seen Licha Martinez [make his return]. He had a good session now as well.

“There were also others on the pitch like Rapha Varane, Victor Lindelof. They returned on the pitch. We have to see how far they are on Sunday.”