Erik ten Hag believes Manchester United can match Manchester City, but that it will take months of work to achieve.
The Dutchman oversaw a disappointing performance for United last weekend when his side lost 6-3 to Pep Guardiola’s Man City, and while City sit second in the Premier League, a point behind Arsenal, the Red Devils are nine points off the league leaders.
Speaking at a press conference ahead of their next league match against Everton at Old Trafford on Sunday night, Ten Hag explained that it would require plenty of effort from his squad, but there are already signs of progress.
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“It’s quite clear, Man City are the standard, but we can deliver that,” he told reporters.
However, after a rocky start to their campaign that saw Cristiano Ronaldo attempt to leave the club following their failure to secure Champions League football for the current season, there have been signs for optimism.
United signed Antony from Ajax, along with Ronaldo's former team-mate Casemiro from Real Madrid as they attempted to put right a miserable early run of form with a late spending spree to improve the quality of the squad.
There were also victories against arch rivals Liverpool, and an impressive display against Arsenal, which Ten Hag pointed to as examples of the level they needed to meet regularly.
He said: “We have seen it [with wins] against Liverpool, we have seen it against Arsenal, but now we have to do it on a consistent basis.
“And that is what we have to work for, but it will not come overnight. It will take more than weeks. It will take months."
He then emphasised that his squad could not rely on rare performances of quality for the rest of the season, but would instead need to put in the necessary effort at every training session.
Ten Hag continued: “It’s like a routine, a way of life. You have to bring it every training, in your system, as a squad, as an individual player.
“And then you have a lack of it in the last years. It’s not something you build in a week or a month. No, it has to be in the system. But it’s a demand nowadays in top football.”
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