Erik ten Hag sees the Europa League playoffs as a positive for the Manchester United squad
Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag sees the Europa League playoffs as a positive for the Old Trafford side. The Dutch manager feels it is an opportunity for the squad to get more minutes on the pitch.
The Red Devils finished second in Group E of the UEL behind Real Sociedad on goal difference. Ten Hag’s team needed to beat the Spanish outfit by a two-goal difference at the Real Arena. Unfortunately, the Manchester-based club could only manage a 1-0 victory.
Speaking to the media via Metro after the game, the Dutch manager was disappointed with United finishing second. He did not feel the Red Devils deserved to be below the La Liga outfit in the group.
“You don’t always get what you deserve, that’s football. First game, you get a penalty that isn’t a penalty but today we win so I’m happy with that.”
Ten Hag was rightfully upset about us not being able to qualify directly for the round of 16 of the UEL. The Old Trafford side now have to play sides who have dropped down from the Champions League over two legs to ensure progression in the competition.
However, teams like Juventus and Barcelona could be pitted against United in the playoffs. And speaking on the club’s official website via Manchester Evening News, the Dutch manager saw an advantage to the extra fixtures.
“We definitely have two extra games to cover in this hard season. We have a lot of games, that’s clear, but also it’s an opportunity for this squad to develop and to get into the process.
“Players like to play matches, rather than training, so, in that matter, it is also an advantage.”
In the reverse fixture against La Real, the Spaniards were given a soft penalty for a handball. Most fans felt the referee could have let it go as the ball was in close proximity to Lisandro Martinez.
We did our job in the two games against Sheriff Tiraspol and Omonia Nicosia, home and away. However, in the end, goal difference proved to be a crucial factor.
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The playoff could be a good opportunity to gauge how far United have come under Ten Hag if we get a top side. It will be interesting to see the Red Devils come up against someone like Barcelona on a European night once again.
It’s no easy feat winning this competition after all. We found that out in the 2020-21 season against Villarreal after labouring our way to the competition’s final.