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Erik ten Hag will not aim for a Premier League title challenge in his first season as Manchester United manager, instead aiming for a return to the Champions League.
Ten Hag was confirmed as the club’s next permanent manager in April, with the Dutchman to pick up interim manager Ralf Rangnick.
After guiding Ajax to a third Eredivisie title in four full seasons at the helm, Ten Hag ended his contract in Amsterdam early to begin work on United ahead of schedule.
The 52-year-old and his two assistants, Mitchell van der Gaag and Steve McClaren, were present on Sunday as United lost their last game of the season 1-0 at Crystal Palace.
Ten Hag was in Manchester the following day to be introduced to the media for the first time, with playing philosophy, recruitment and team staff among the key topics discussed at his press conference.
Talk of season goals was surprisingly absent, but in a separate interview with the club’s media channels, Ten Hag provided some insight.
“I said this is the project to bring Man United back to the top, but we also have to accept the current situation we are in,” he said.
“First and foremost, Man belongs to the Champions League, so that will be the first goal.”
United looked to be in contention – although generally considered an outside bet – for the top four for most of the 2021-22 season.
But their form suffered badly during the final phase of the season after they were knocked out of the Champions League by Atletico Madrid in March.
Erik’s promise to