Exclusive: Ten Hag set Arsenal, Newcastle target for Man Utd with failure ‘not accepted’

Erik ten Hag, October 2022

Dwight Yorke has told Erik ten Hag he will be expected to have Manchester United challenging for the title next season, in an exclusive interview with TEAMtalk.

The Dutchman has overseen an excellent first season in charge, steering the club to the brink of Champions League qualification. Indeed, their place in UEFA’s top competition can be officially confirmed on Thursday night if they take at least a point at home to Chelsea.

And having won the Carabao Cup and secured a place in the FA Cup final, United can be extremely satisfied about Ten Hag’s first season at the helm.

However, his honeymoon period will be well and truly over next season and further improvements will be expected.

And despite their success this season, there have been some elements of doubt in the wake of some disappointing away results. Indeed, United have failed to win away from home against the majority of sides in the top half. And with heavy losses inflicted upon them at Man City, Liverpool and Brentford, there remains some obvious ways to better themselves.

Assessing his first year at the helm, Yorke told TEAMtalk, in association with aceodds.com, he will need to further close that gap on City next term.

“Yeah, listen, he’s done tremendously well this season,” the 1999 Treble winner said. “Considering when he came in, a little bit unknown, although he’s made a really tough decision in getting rid of Ronaldo, which was something that could have gone belly-up in his face.

“But he shows that he’s a strong manager. He has a strong belief in his philosophy, as we say in the game, which is great to see.

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“You’ve got to back yourself in those situations. He’s been able to do that!”

Yorke reckons United will look back on the 2022/23 season with fond memories; moreso if they can win the FA Cup and prevent City securing the Treble.

“I think the fact that he’s gone on to win the Carabao Cup, which is great. Obviously, huge disappointment going out of Europe. And then of course, being in the final of the FA Cup, you know, in two weeks time, we are here sitting, you know, qualified for Champions League, won two cups, that’s a hell of a season,” Yorke added.

Turning attention to next season, Yorke says the pressure will be on.

And finishing behind Newcastle and Arsenal again – thus becoming City’s main title rivals – will not be tolerated.

“You know, when you think of the turnaround that he has. And I think that’s how he will want the season to end. Can he put a dent in the fact that this treble-winning conversation probably won’t take place if that were to happen, right? So we are hopeful in that sense.

“And then next season, you think, where do you go from that? I think the way it has to be improved is the league. The league has to be closer to City, without a doubt.

“I don’t think having the likes of Newcastle finishing ahead of us and Arsenal finishing ahead of us is something that we will be happy about. I think it’s acceptable at this stage, but certainly next season. It won’t be accepted in the sense that he had now given us possibly two trophies in this conversation.”

Next season’s ambition is clear

United are expected to further strengthen their squad with three marquee signings in their sights.

And Yorke is clear that, in the event Ten Hag lands all his targets, a title challenge is the least the club expects.

“If that were to happen, then I think the league is something that we need to target. “We need to get closer to City and finish in that second position. And if we’re a bit closer then there is the possibility of being top. I think that will be very realistic.

“And, you know, I say [it is also] unfortunate. But that is what is expected when you’re at Man Utd. That’s the name of the game.

“He [Ten Hag] is at a big club, and the expectation there is huge. And when you start winning, they want more. And that will be the case next season.”

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