Manchester United manager Erik Ten Hag said on Thursday that qualifying for the UEFA Champions League is important for the club to attract new signings and give a boost to his aim of rebuilding the club, which has not progressed past the quarterfinals of this top football competition in Europe since 2011.
A sixth-place finish in the Premier League last season forced United to settle for a place in UEFA Europa League, in which they achieved a quarterfinal finish. The privilege of qualification to the Champions League is only for top-four teams in Premier League.
Ten Hag aims to bring back the glory of UEFA Champions League back to Old Trafford in his first season in-charge.
"All the big players want to play in the Champions League," Ten Hag was quoted as saying by Sky Sports.
"Manchester United is a big club. In the period I have been here, I have noticed everyone wants to play for Manchester United. Now it looks like we are in the Champions League, there is even more interest because they know we are in the Champions League and the Premier League at a high level. So, qualification will be important."
He said that in UEFA Champions League, a side gets to face the best teams across Europe, guided by some of the best managers in the world, at some of the best stadiums in the world,
"For the players, they face the best players and [as a team] you are in a better league schedule, that is also important. It is very important for the rebuild of this club that we are in the Champions League. The players know they want to be in the Champions League, they want to be at the top of the Premier League. We fight for every position, and, on the pitch, we fight for every yard, every duel because that is the meaning of top football," said the manager.
Brighton are the only Premier League away team to have won at Old Trafford this season, defeating Ten Hag in his first game in command.
United avenged their first-day defeat by knocking the Seagulls out of the FA Cup on penalties in their most recent semi-final at Wembley. It keeps United's hopes for the second trophy of the season alive after they won the Carabao Cup in February this year after defeating Newcastle United.
A lot has changed for the club since Brighton contributed to his side's scary start at Old Trafford.
"It was a long time ago," the United boss said.
"At the start of a process, you do not want it, but it can happen. It is quite normal that no team is running 100 per cent from the start. I will say it would be a bad situation if we were playing worse football now than nine, 10 months ago. We have improved a lot; we are heading in the right direction."
"I will never be satisfied; we can always be better. Good for me is not good enough. We have to do better and always go to the next level.
"We have seen we are in the right direction but there is still a long way to go. Some teams have already been building for three, four or five years and are further in the process. That is what you see at this moment in comparison with other big teams," concluded Ten Hag.
Manchester United is currently in the fourth place in the Premier League table. They have won 19 out of their 32 matches, lost six and drawn seven. They have a total of 63 points and are 16 points behind table-toppers and arch-rivals Manchester City. Manchester United will take on Brighton on Thursday. (ANI)