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Other SportsTen Hag: Manchester United youngsters needed stability to shine

Ten Hag: Manchester United youngsters needed stability to shine

Erik ten Hag says Manchester United are now providing a stable environment in which youngsters Alejandro Garnacho, Rasmus Hojlund and Kobbie Mainoo can excel, having failed to do so earlier in the season.

United have won four of their five games in 2024 across all competitions, the only exception being a 2-2 draw with Tottenham in mid-January.

Back-to-back Premier League wins over Wolves and West Ham have seen the Red Devils cut the gap to fourth-placed Aston Villa – who they face on Sunday – to eight points.

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United’s young players have been key to their improved form, with Mainoo scoring a 97th-minute winner at Wolves before Garnacho netted twice to join Hojlund on the scoresheet against West Ham.

After being ravaged by injuries during an inconsistent first half of the season, Ten Hag believes United are now providing the stability needed for their young players to express themselves.

“Players need time, especially young players like Rasmus and Alejandro,” Ten Hag said. “They need time, but they also need a team.

“Those two factors were not there in the first part of the season. We had to make a lot of adjustments to the team, to our way of play, so it was difficult to serve the offensive part of the team.

“When that happens, it can go really quickly, and players progress and develop.

“That’s what we’ve seen, but I was confident from the start they have the potential to do what they are doing. Now it’s about keeping going, being hungry.”

While United remain outsiders in the battle for Champions League qualification, Ten Hag is under no illusions as to the importance of Sunday’s match against a direct rival in Villa.

“I’ve said to the team from the start of January, every game is now a final. That was our approach to West Ham, we were a point behind them,” Ten Hag said.

“We have to see this as a final, take this challenge, and that will be every game for us from now on. We are already in that mood.”

Harry Carr
Harry Carr
Harry is a freelance sports journalist with experience of working for the Racing Post, Stats Perform, Opta Analyst and more, covering major events across all sports but holding a particular love for the beautiful game.
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