The Red Devils coach has fired a warning to his team ahead of their Premier League clash against Leicester City.
Erik ten Hag has sent a message to his Manchester United team following their UEFA Europa League round of 16 first-leg draw with Barcelona.
The Red Devils were held to a 2-2 draw at the Spotify Camp Nou on Thursday, February 16, after Marcos Alonso put the hosts ahead in the second half, before Marcus Rashford levelled matters for the visitors.
Barca soon conceded again, courtesy of an unfortunate own goal by Jules Kounde in the 59th minute, before Raphinha pulled the Blaugrana back on level terms again with less than 15 minutes to go until stoppage.
In the end, both teams were made to share the spoils ahead of their second-leg clash at Old Trafford.
Erik ten Hag sends message to Manchester United stars ahead amid Top 4 race
Following the result, the Man United boss charged his players to avoid complacency in their pursuit of a Champions League place.
United currently sit third in the Premier League summit and are seven points clear of fifth-placed Tottenham.
The Red Devils are expected to return to the Champions League next season, following a disappointing sixth place finish last campaign that saw them qualify for Europe’s secondary competition.
But Ten Hag has told his players they cannot afford to assume their qualification is sealed with 15 games still to play in the Premier League.
“We are in the right direction, but we have to fight for it,” Ten Hag was quoted to have said in a press conference via TalkSport when asked if he felt United were ready to return to the Champions League.
He continued: “That is two ways - one is via the Europa League the other is through the Premier League. So we know what we have to do. We have to see it game by game and fight to get back into the Champions League.”
The Man United boss also downplayed talk of a title tilt in his first season, despite being just five points behind defending champions and local rivals Manchester City.
He said: “We don’t think about that so far,”
“What we have to do is to put us, in April, in the right position, so our thinking can only be on the next game. We always have to be better than the previous game and think about it game by game - that is where our energy and focus is.
“It means that we have to win on Sunday and we have to collect the three points against Leicester and that demands a lot of energy and it demands high standards.”
Manchester United v Leicester headlines Premier League on Sunday
The Red devils play hosts to Leicester City on Sunday, February 19, 2023.
United come into this game on the back of a 2-2 draw in their first leg Europa League knockout round play-off clash away to Barcelona.
However, in the Premier League, they have only lost one of their last ten matches, drawing twice and winning the other seven.
At home in the league, their only defeat came on the opening day against Brighton.
Brendan Rodgers’ Leicester on the other hand, recorded back-to-back Premier League wins for only the third time this season, having hammered Tottenham 4-1 last weekend.
Away from home in the league, the Foxes have won just four times, all of which have come within their last six away league matches.
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