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Erik ten Hag: Manchester United 'Still Far Away' from Top Premier League Clubs

Erin WalshSeptember 4, 2022

Simon Stacpoole/Offside/Offside via Getty Images

With a 3-1 victory over first-place Arsenal on Sunday, Manchester United has climbed to fifth in the Premier League table with a 4-0-2 record, but Erik ten Hag believes his club still isn't close to competing with the EPL's best.

"We're at the start of a process, we're still far away," Ten Hag said at a news conference. "We have to start doing things much better than we do, that's an investment. We have to get better if you want to win trophies in the end."

Manchester United newcomer Antony, who was signed from Ajax for €100 million, put the Red Devils up 1-0 with a goal in the 35th minute of Sunday's game, his debut, but Arsenal was able to respond early in the second half when Bukayo Saka found the back of the net in the 60th minute.

United upped the pressure following Saka's game-tying goal, and Marcus Rashford gave the Red Devils a 2-1 lead in the 66th minute before tallying his second goal of the match to put his club up 3-1.

Rashford told reporters after the match that Manchester United should be proud of how well it played against one of the Premier League's top-ranked clubs:

"The fact they've had such a good start to the season meant it was a big test for us today. We showed up and we stood up to the challenge. We can all be proud of ourselves today."

Manchester United had a tough start to the 2022-23 season with a 2-1 loss to Brighton followed by a 4-0 loss to Brentford.

With pressure to perform better increasing, Ten Hag made the decision to bench Cristiano Ronaldo and club captain Harry Maguire from the starting lineup against Liverpool on Aug. 22.

Raphael Varane started in place of Maguire, while Rashford, Anthony Elanga and Jadon Sancho became more favorable in the place of Ronaldo.

The Red Devils went on to defeat Liverpool 2-1 for their first win of the season as Ten Hag's changes to the starting XI made a huge difference. The club has gone on to defeat Southampton, Leicester City and Arsenal.

Manchester United begin group play in the Europa League on Thursday against Real Sociedad and will face Crystal Palace in Premier League action on Sunday. A significant challenge for the club will come on Oct. 2 when it faces Erling Haaland and Manchester City.

Considering Ten Hag is finding success with Ronaldo and Maguire on the bench, it's reasonable to believe they will remain there for the foreseeable future.

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