Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag has warned his players not to get distracted by talk of winning a trophy in the Dutchman’s first season in charge.
Ten Hag’s side have picked up four Premier League wins in a row and sit fourth in the table, nine points behind league leaders Arsenal.
Before consecutive league games against the league’s current top two, United’s attention first turns to the domestic cup competitions, as they host Everton in the FA Cup on Friday evening before welcoming League One side Charlton to Old Trafford for their Carabao Cup quarter-final on Tuesday , live on Sky Sports.
With United also in the Europa League knockout stages, the club still has four potential routes to silverware this season – but Ten Hag has called for focus amid a hectic schedule.
When asked about the prospect of a trophy in his first season at United, he said: “I don’t think about that. In this stage of the season, it’s not where you are looking at.
“You are looking at getting into a position where you can win something because there are so many games to play.
“The season is taking a long time, especially with a lot of games ahead – don’t get distracted. When you think too far ahead, you get distracted. Focus on the game, progress, the team performance and the team development. It’s all about that. There are many elements in our game that we need to improve. Think about and concentrate on that, work to make it better.”
When asked if he expected to be in such a promising position so soon into his Old Trafford career, the Dutchman added: “I think we are in a good position. We are where we want to be.
“Go from game to game, we play in many leagues so focus from game to game on the league and don’t think too far ahead.
“We have to go from game to game and still think about and work on progressing and the process. It’s all about that as a team, and then the individuals. When the team is performing, the individuals get better.”
Ten Hag on Rashford form, January transfer plans
Ten Hag extended his message calling for focus to Marcus Rashford, who has three goals and one assist in United’s first three Premier League games back after the World Cup.
The England forward came off the bench to score a second-half winner against Wolves on New Year’s Eve having been dropped from the starting line-up for oversleeping and arriving late to a team meeting.
“First of all, keep the focus always. It doesn’t matter if you’re in the game or not, keep focus on scoring the goal,” Ten Hag said.
“A player like Marcus but also Anthony Martial, when they stay in the game mentally, focused with 100 per cent concentration, they always have the skills and need one moment to change the game in a positive way.
“If he [Rashford] develops that skill, I think he will score more goals and contribute to a successful season.”
With fellow United attacker Jadon Sancho still working towards full fitness, Ten Hag also addressed the possibility of bringing in a new forward in the January transfer window.
Sky Sports News revealed United’s desire to bring in a forward, though a loan deal is the most likely scenario in this transfer month.
“We always have to look for that,” Ten Had said about new signings. “We push the players, good is not good enough. But also in the organization we have to push each other.
“When there are opportunities at the top, you have to be ready for it. My focus is on being ready to get a better team, to improve the team.”