New Manchester United head coach Erik ten Hag has said that he is “looking forward to battling” with Manchester City and Liverpool during his time at Old Trafford.
Ten Hag spoke to the media for the first time as Red Devils boss on Monday, detailing his plans for the future, with the Dutchman determined to help the club in their bid to return to former glories.
Man United have serious ground to make up in the Premier League, though, having finished sixth in this season’s table, some 35 points behind champions Manchester City.
Second-place Liverpool were 34 points ahead of the 20-time English champions, meanwhile, with the top two sides playing out a pulsating title race that went to the final moment.
Ten Hag has said that he ‘admires’ both Man City head coach Pep Guardiola and Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp, but he is confident of toppling the two clubs during his time at the helm.
“In this moment I admire them [Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp]. I admire them both. They play, in this moment, really fantastic football – both Liverpool and Manchester City,” Ten Hag told reporters.
“But you will always see that an era can come to an end. I am looking forward to battling with them and I am sure all the other clubs in the Premier League will want to do that.”
Ten Hag has also denied suggestions that he is putting his reputation on the line by taking charge of a Man United side going through a difficult moment in their history.
“I don’t see it as a risk. I think this club has a great history and now let’s make a future. It is really exciting to do that with the people around who are in the club, and we will also bring people in with the staff,” he added.
“We will analyse the squad and we will go on day to day. [If we] work hard, [and are] 100% committed, then I am sure we will get success.”
Man United will not be present in next season’s Champions League, having failed to maintain a top-four push in the latter stages of the campaign, and fourth-placed Tottenham Hotspur ultimately finished 13 points clear of the Red Devils.
Ten Hag has said that talk of challenging for the Premier League for the moment is not realistic, with the 52-year-old currently focusing on the “project” at the club.
“I don’t think about that in this moment. What we are thinking about is that this is a project. That always takes time. But I know that, in this club – and I have experience with other clubs like Ajax and Bayern Munich – this is the toughest length of time,” he added.
“But we want to win, we want to win every game, so we go from game to game and then we will see.”
Ten Hag also spoke to MUTV on Monday and confirmed that the team would begin their pre-season preparations on June 27.
“We will start pre-season on 27 June and I will get a few of the squad, of the individual players. Not all the players will be coming in [on 27 June], because the ones who play internationals will have a longer break, because they play longer in this current season,” the former Ajax manager added.
Man United’s 2021-22 campaign saw them finish sixth in the Premier League, reach the fourth round of the FA Cup, third round of the EFL Cup and last-16 stage of the Champions League.