Erik ten Hag will not be targeting a Premier League title challenge in his first season as Manchester United manager, instead aiming for a return to the Champions League.
Ten Hag was confirmed as the club’s next permanent manager in April, with the Dutchman set to pick up from interim boss Ralf Rangnick.
After guiding Ajax to a third Eredivisie title in four full seasons at the helm, Ten Hag ended his contract in Amsterdam early in order to start work with United ahead of schedule.
The 52-year-old and his two assistants, Mitchell van der Gaag and Steve McClaren, were present on Sunday as United lost their final match of the season 1-0 to Crystal Palace.
Ten Hag was in Manchester the following day to be introduced to the media for the first time, with playing philosophy, recruitment and squad personnel among the key topics discussed at his news conference.
Talk of seasonal targets was surprisingly absent, but in a separate interview with the club’s media channels, Ten Hag provided some insight.
“I said this is the project, to bring Man United back on top, but also we have to accept the current situation we are in,” he said.
“First of all, Man United belong in the Champions League, so that will be the first target.”
United did appear to be in contention – even if generally regarded as an outside bet – for the top four during much of the 2021-22 season.
But their form suffered badly during the final stages of the season after they were knocked out of the Champions League by Atletico Madrid in March.
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