Erik ten Hag sets 'challenge' for Man Utd's young stars ahead of Aston Villa clash

Manchester United have been great in 2024 and Erik ten Hag's young prospects have been central to that form.
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Erik ten Hag has urged his young Manchester United stars to produce the goods on a consistent basis after what has been a promising start to the new year.

United are among the form teams in 2024, having sewn together three straight wins across all competitions. Much of the recent optimism around Old Trafford has been generated by the younger players, with Rasmus Hojlund and Alejandro Garnacho in the goals while Kobbie Mainoo continues to impress in midfield.

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A picture of the young trio celebrating together went viral last weekend and supporters are hoping to see more of the same for years to come. Ten Hag is hugely excited to have such promising talent at his disposal but insists consistency is more important than moments.

"We have some exciting players," the United manager told Sky Sports. "We also have had such [standout] moments during the season - for instance, the brilliant goal from Garnacho against Everton. We have some very high potentials in this squad. And now we have to perform to high levels.

"We do it now in some games but on Sunday [vs Aston Villa], for instance, we get an opposition who have a very high level. So that's a challenge to perform there and to get end product from those players on Sunday. So they are the next steps, which have to come."

That consistency of performance has come with consistency of selection and Ten Hag is reaping the rewards of settling on his favoured front-three. Garnacho has been excellent on his unnatural right-wing, with Hojlund leading the line and Marcus Rashford also in a purple patch, despite being dropped last month for missing training.

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That front-three has started all of the last four Premier League matches, registering 10 goals and three assists between them during that time. And Ten Hag believes the growing relationship is helping each player find their best form.

"Football is about co-operation," he added. "Finding the spaces by movements, by moving the ball and bringing players into positions where they can attack opponents or get into one-on-one situations. And then those players have the abilities to score goals."

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