Ten Hag admits Champions League spot is Man Utd’s to lose, after ‘impressive’ win over Aston Villa

Erik ten Hag, Manchester United, April 2023

Erik ten Hag of Manchester United

Erik ten Hag has admitted his belief that Manchester United are “totally in control” of finishing in a Champions League spot, as it is “in our hands”.

United have been on a good run in the Premier League in the last few weeks. Indeed, they’ve now not lost in the league in any of their previous five games.

In fact, they’ve won all but one of those games, the away tie against Tottenham in the week.

A win against Aston Villa is by no means guaranteed at the moment. The Villans have been in stellar form under Unai Emery, climbing up to sixth in the Premier League.

As such, United were faced with a tough task in keeping their run going. They did well to keep Villa at bay, given they’d scored 14 goals in their last seven games before today.

United broke the deadlock in the 39th minute – Bruno Fernandes following in on a deflected shot and turning the rebound in past Emi Martinez.

The Red Devils had a few chances to add to their lead, but nothing came of them.

That didn’t matter in the end, as Villa were unable to respond to their opener and United took all three points, courtesy of the 1-0 scoreline.

Ten Hag feels Champions League is ‘in our hands’

Speaking to the BBC following the match, United manager Ten Hag detailed the quality of performance from his side.

“A good three points but I think an impressive performance from Manchester United. We were magnificent on the ball, had good possession and pressed well,” he said.

“In the second half you want to go 2-0 ahead but we didn’t so it’s always going to be a tough finish.”

The manager singled out a couple of his players for specific praise.

“[Victor Lindelof] played brilliant. He was totally in control in the area around [Ollie] Watkins,” Ten Hag added.

“Bruno [Fernandes] had another great game. The plan was to play him from the right to make runs behind and he did that so well. I think our plan worked very well.”

Ten Hag could now be in line to reach another goal at the first time of asking. Indeed, his side have Champions League qualification in their sights and he feels it’s theirs to lose.

“We are totally in control [in the race for top four], it’s all about us and it’s in our hands,” he said.

That would be yet another milestone for the manager. He won a trophy at his first attempt, when United were triumphant in the League Cup earlier this season – ending a wait for honours that began in the 2016/17 campaign.

United did not qualify for this season’s Champions League, having played in the competition the previous two seasons. Ten Hag should be able to inspire his side to a finish that allows them back into Europe’s elite competition.

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