Home » Erik ten Hag says Man United will treat every game as a Cup final in 2024

Erik ten Hag says Man United will treat every game as a Cup final in 2024

by Ayantan Chowdhury
Diogo Dalot and Aaron Wan-Bissaka

A resurgent Manchester United will be hoping to make up lost ground when they take on Aston Villa in the Premier League on Sunday.

Currently sixth after their emphatic win over West Ham United, the Red Devils will look to close the gap with Unai Emery’s side who are sitting pretty in fourth.

Currently, the 20-time English league champions are eight points behind and can bring it down to five with a win. They will be hoping to avoid going 11 behind by the end of the night.

And Erik ten Hag has made it clear to his side that the only way back into the fight for Champions League places is to think of every game as a final.

Mentality shift

“I said to the team from the start of January every game is now a final. That was also our approach to West Ham, this is a final, we have to take this challenge and see it as a final. That will be every day now from on,” Ten Hag said during the pre-match press conference.

Despite his side remaining unbeaten in the New Year, there is concern with regards to how the team will fare without Lisandro Martinez.

The Argentine suffered an injury against the Hammers and is expected to be out until March and there are concerns that the World Cup winner might not appear again this term.

But Ten Hag was quick to rubbish these talks while claiming he has options to replace the Argentina international and expects his players to step up.

“It is a setback of course, Licha was returning you see his contribution to the team when he is playing, apart from the technical skills also the mentality.

“It is a big setback for Licha, he is very disappointed but he is a fighter. He will be back, stronger back and will play by the end of the season. As a a squad we have to replace him and we have players who can play there and will play there.”

How will EtH cope without Licha

Among the options is to play Luke Shaw there, who excelled as the left centre-back last campaign during Martinez’s absence.

But Raphael Varane, Victor Lindelof and Jonny Evans have all played in that position this season and can certainly cope.

“We have options. How to deal with that position. We have good centre halves in our squad so the others are available, Luke can play also there. Quite confident we can keep the process going so others can fulfil the position and also contribute playing in high levels.

“Those players are experienced. That is an advantage that we have seen with a left-footed player in that role. We have to work on players.

“They can also develop in such positions when you work with them and coach with them and train them. I see our players in the back line developing their skills when building up.”

On the injury front, there was further bad news in store for Ten Hag with Aaron Wan-Bissaka pulling up during training.

AWB issue

He was suffering from an unspecified leg injury for the last few weeks and he managed to return to training, only for the issue to flare up.

Shaw playing at the heart of the defence is mostly contingent on Wan-Bissaka regaining fitness and slotting in at right-back, allowing Diogo Dalot to move to the left.

“Aaron Wan-Bissaka today was training today and then dropped out so I don’t know at the moment where he is, the diagnosis, hopefully not too bad. Mason [Mount] and Ty [Malacia] not ready.”

The good news for United is the contribution from their young stars, Rasmus Hojlund, Alejandro Garnacho and Kobbie Mainoo.

The Dutchman once again praised them while also revealing that they must step up and ensure the hunger for success does not diminish.

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