Manchester United

Manchester United

Premier League • England

James Garner turns nose up at Europa League, informs Erik ten Hag about Man Utd thinking

James Garner Nottingham Forest May 2022

James Garner has said he wants to play every week and is ready to make another loan switch if the Manchester United midfielder fails in his bid to become a regular under Erik ten Hag.

Garner, from Birkenhead, has been out on loan at two clubs and he believes he is better for those experiences. The first spell at Watford ended in January 2021 after falling out of favour under Xisco Munoz.

Nottingham Forest though were quick to pick him up for the second part of the season. And Forest landed him again for the season last summer. And Garner helped deliver promotion for Forest after making 49 appearances in a defensive midfield role.

Injury prevented Garner making the impact he would have liked on Manchester United’s pre-season tour of Thailand and Australia. But the England Under-21 international is determined to take his chance and impress Ten Hag.

“I had a really good season last season – full of confidence, full of experience,” the academy graduate told the PA news agency. “The experience I didn’t have, I feel that now I do have.

“I played in some big pressure games and I just think it’s a new and improved me. It was almost as perfect a loan experience that I could possibly have had.

“I played pretty much every single game, played well and ended up winning promotion. For me, it’s probably the perfect loan.

“However, for me now because I’ve played two seasons back-to-back, where I’ve been playing games non-stop, I don’t really want to stop that.

“I want to play week in, week out. That is of course what I want to do.

“I’m not too sure but pre-season has been good so far and, like I said, hopefully in the next two, three weeks – we’ve still got games left – I can show what I can do.”

Garner wants United future

Garner made his first appearance of the tour as a second-half substitute in Saturday’s 2-2 draw with Aston Villa in Perth.

Ten Hag said on the eve of the game that he did not yet have a “full impression” of the midfielder and wanted to see more before he made a decision about his short-term future.

“I want to play for United,” Garner said. “Of course that’s obviously my aim.

“But I feel like if I’m not going to be playing as regularly as I would like to then I’m definitely open to going back on loan to a Premier League side.”

Garner does have his sights on playing in the top tier whether that be at Old Trafford or elsewhere.

“I feel like I’m a midfielder that can do pretty much everything,” he said. “I feel like I can play in the six or eight role.

“Last season I played in the 10 role as well – I’m not saying that’s what I prefer, but I’m saying I can play in that position if needed – so I feel like I offer everything that a midfielder would need.

‘Europa League for me isn’t playing regularly’

“I feel like I do have the qualities to play in either the six or eight role. I think they would only benefit me as a player.

“Depending on the formation the manager would like to play, I can fit into either role.”

Garner has admitted that regular game time would be preferential to a bit-part role in the Europa League group stage this season.

Garner added: “I understand what you mean, but for me I’d like to play regularly.

“Europa League for me isn’t playing regularly. It’s only a small amount of game time from the group stages to the final, hopefully if we make it.

“I’ve had two full seasons now where I’ve played pretty much back-to-back every week, two or three times a week.

“So, for me not to do that now I think would be a step back in my career and that’s something I don’t really want to do at the moment.”

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