Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag has been putting his players through their paces as they prepare for Thursday night’s Europa League showdown with Real Sociedad. The Red Devils go into the fixture hoping to claim all three points and get their European campaign off to a winning start. Express Sport will now take a look at three things Ten Hag has done players will do as they look to make it five victories in a row across all competitions.
Fitness is vital for Ten Hag, with the 52-year-old hoping his United team can play high-octane, enterprising football for many years to come.
And players were seen doing running exercises at Carrington as they prepare for their first European showdown of the season.
Cristiano Ronaldo was among the group, with the Portugal international hoping for a first start since the 4-0 defeat to Brentford last month.
New signing Antony also took part in the fitness work, along with other attackers such as Jadon Sancho and Marcus Rashford.
United have been enterprising during their recent run of four wins in a row – so it’s no surprise Ten Hag is keen for them to be as sharp as possible.
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United players were also seen working on their dribbling as well.
Ten Hag appeared to put on small mini-matches ahead of the showdown, encouraging players to dribble with the ball and show courage in possession.
Ronaldo watched on as Diogo Dalot attempted to tackle Antony, who netted on his debut in the 3-1 win over Arsenal on Sunday.
And many of United’s fringe players will be hoping to show Ten Hag they can fit into his system.
Casemiro is another player who will be hoping to be unleashed from the start, having only featured off the bench since joining from Real Madrid last month.
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United love a rondo.
And with Ten Hag keen for his side to become a possession-based team, it’s no surprise to see the Red Devils working on their ball retention.
United beat Arsenal on Sunday but Ten Hag was disappointed with his side’s failure to control the game, with the Gunners having the bulk of the ball throughout the showdown at Old Trafford.
Against Real Sociedad, the Red Devils can expect to have more possession – especially given they’re at home.
And Ten Hag is leaving no stone unturned as he looks for a fifth win in a row.
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Ten Hag opens up on the Europa League
Speaking ahead of United’s match with Real Sociedad, Ten Hag admitted he was hoping to win the competition.
When asked if he’d rotate, and if the Europa League was the right competition to do that in, he said: “We have to win every game, and we want to win every tournament, so we have to take everything seriously.
“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.”
And Ten Hag also admitted he probably couldn’t keep every United player happy with his team selections, too.
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“Maybe I cannot keep them all happy every game but everyone gets their game-time if they perform well, it’s quite clear,” he said.
“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.”
United previously won the Europa League back in 2017, when Jose Mourinho was manager, before losing the final of the same tournament four years later under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
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