Anthony Martial (right) celebrates with teammates after scoring Manchester United’s second goal against Chelsea at Old Trafford in Manchester, England, on Thursday. PIC/Getty Images
Erik ten Hag said Manchester United are back where they belong after a 4-1 thrashing of Chelsea on Thursday secured a return to the Champions League next season.
Casemiro, Anthony Martial, Bruno Fernandes and Marcus Rashford were on target as the Red Devils moved up to third in the Premier League. A miserable night summed up Chelsea's season despite spending over Â£500 million ($620 million) in the transfer market as they slumped to an eighth defeat in 10 games since Frank Lampard returned as interim manager.
Erik ten Hag
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By contrast, confirmation of a top-four finish rounds off a successful first season in charge for Ten Hag after also ending United's six-year trophy drought by winning the League Cup in February. More silverware could be to come next month should United halt Manchester City's charge towards the treble in the FA Cup final. But a return to Europe's elite competition next season was one of Ten Hag's primary aims when he took the reigns after a disastrous 2021-22 campaign when United finished sixth.
"I think [it is] a successful season but the season is not finished," said Ten Hag. "This club belongs in the Champions League, but this league is very strong, with many clubs competing for this position.
"It is the main objective of the season to get into the Champions League. The competition is tough, many teams with really good squads, good managers, so you are doing a good job [to qualify]. For this moment it is the maximum but we want more [next season]."
Casemiro's arrival from Real Madrid has been fundamental to United's revival. The 31-year-old's class and experience shone through against a youthful Chelsea side that were punished for a lack of efficiency in both boxes.
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