Erik ten Hag says Manchester United "have to take everything serious" ahead of Europa League tie against Real Sociedad
Image courtesy of John Peters / Getty Images

Manchester United prepare to kick-off their UEFA Europa League campaign on Thursday evening as Spanish side Real Sociedad travel to Old Trafford.

Erik ten Hag's men have been in a rich vein of form in domestic action across the past few weeks, having won their previous four league outings and conceding just twice in the process.

Yet despite this positive run, it will be a tough challenge to finish in the top four and therefore qualify for next season's UEFA Champions League. So, Europa League football can serve as a great opportunity to be in Europe's top competition in a year's time should The Red Devils win the trophy in May, whilst lifting silverware in the process would be a huge step forward.

European football can often be seen as a platform to rotate squads and provide minutes to players who haven't seen much game time during domestic action, but Ten Hag wants to ensure that his side keep up their winning run on Thursday:

"We have to win every game, and we want to win every tournament, so we have to take everything serious. We not only have a team, we have a squad, that's clear. But we have to win every game. That is the mentality that Manchester United needs," Ten Hag said in his press conference.

Embed from Getty Images

Such is the Dutchman's desire to perform well in Europe, the Red Devils' boss was quick to point out that will not be deploying squad players in the Europa League merely for rotation:

"Maybe I cannot keep them all happy every game but everyone gets their game-time if they perform well, it's quite clear. But what I say, we need everyone - we have a lot of games to cover.

"There is a lot coming in front of us, and the national teams of course - the World Cup - but also all of the cups in England. The Europa League where we are now getting in and, of course, the Premier League," Ten Hag continued.

  • Rashford revolutionised

After an underwhelming 2021/22 campaign for both Manchester United and Marcus Rashford, doubt loomed over whether the 24-year-old would be able to resurrect his fine form that saw him become an integral player to the Old Trafford outfit.

And despite these doubts, the academy-graduate has started this season firing on all cylinders, scoring three goals and providing two assists in the process:

"I see a happy Marcus Rashford and I see some phases in his game that we could improve. And we worked really hard in the last two-and-a-half months with him on different aspects. He likes it and he wants to transfer it to the pitch, and that is what you see in this moment." Ten Hag said.

Embed from Getty Images

Rasford's recent performances could have come as a result of the manager's instructions or purely through the attacker having a full pre-season whilst being fit. However, the United manager insisted it was something else.

"It started with happiness. He is coming here every day, he really enjoys it, he's really smiling.

"He has a really positive vibe and, if you put all of those things together with the way of play and you want to transfer and improve different aspects of your game and you are happy, you will have more contribution to the team, to the performance, to the result, and also to your development," Ten Hag said.

  • The team is improving

Ten Hag's era at Old Trafford started in horrific fashion after losing by two goals to one at home to Brighton, before succumbing to a humiliating 4-0 loss away to Brentford.

Yet the Dutchman appears to have turned things around quite quickly – and he believes having a full squad fighting for their places is key to their recent success:

"When a team is acting well, when players are acting well, I think we have more than 11 starting XI players and then you stay in that's clear. The team is improving, it's getting better, but, on the other hand, for players who are not now in the team, we know they can, at any moment, they can come in and they will do the job," the United boss stated.

Embed from Getty Images

"And they can maybe even do it better than the players who are in but you'll never know. I know that you need more than 11 players to get successful and I know we have a really good bench in this moment and also, when they come on, they really contribute to the success we have now."

Manchester United host Real Sociedad on Thursday evening, 20:00 BST.

VAVEL Logo