ERIK TEN HAG admits he can’t get no satisfaction — even if he starts lifting trophies.
The Manchester United manager gets things rolling again tonight with the Carabao Cup fourth-round visit of Burnley.
Ten Hag is forced to field a patched-up side with nine of his players only just back from World Cup duty.
And the Dutchman knows the Championship leaders — led by Manchester City legend Vincent Kompany — will fancy themselves to kibosh his plans to make a first visit at Wembley as Old Trafford boss.
Last season was United’s worst in the Premier League era as they finished sixth with just 58 points — 35 behind champs City.
But with their season restarting on Monday against Nottingham Forest they currently lie fifth, three points behind Tottenham and with a game in hand.
The Red Devils were finally starting to look hot again before the World Cup break following a £206.7million summer spending spree that sparked the start of a long-overdue makeover.
But Ten Hag goes into the second half of the season declaring he has barely even begun — and will not stop working, no matter how successful he makes the club that has not won a trophy in five years.
He said: “I always say satisfaction makes you lazy.
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“I am happy with the way the players perform and the fact they play as a team with the right spirit and the right mentality.
“But there is always a battle to keep that progress going. It means keeping the high standards.
“If you are too satisfied with yourself and the team, you will not maintain those high standards.
“It’s up to me to control that and set a good example.
“We have to live the high standards all the time to compete with the best clubs in the Premier League and achieve our goals.”
Ten Hag got used to being a serial winner at Ajax, winning three Eredivisie titles in four years.
In the summer he took over a team of losers from interim-manager Ralf Rangnick.
Workaholic Ten Hag, 52, added: “I knew it would be a difficult project.
“Manchester United was not in the circumstances that you would expect of them.
“Now we’re in the right direction but we’re far away from where we need to be.
“If you want to compete for trophies you have to do much better in a lot of elements of football.
“If we do the right things, if we work good, if we have the right plan, then yes, it’s hopeful.
“We are in fifth — it gives us a good idea of where we can finish.”
Yesterday, Ten Hag welcomed back nine more players to training of the 14-strong multinational brigade that left for Qatar.
World Cup-winner Lisandro Martinez and heartbroken France defender Raphael Varane have been given a further week off following Sunday’s thrilling final.
Tonight’s visit of Burnley will be the first of Ten Hag’s reign without fallen superstar Cristiano Ronaldo, following the bombshell exclusive interview with TalkTV’s Piers Morgan that saw him leave United “by mutual consent”.
The manager is now looking forward to having greater unity within his squad after starting the season with a 2–1 home loss to Brighton then a 4-0 humiliation at Brentford.
Ten Hag then had to deal with Ronaldo turning from a deserter when he refused to go on as a late sub in the 2-0 win over Tottenham, into a backstabber on the box.
But he brushed off the egotistical, self-centred Portuguese and those early season setbacks and insisted: “Actually, both didn’t upset me.
“Of course, after those results I wasn’t happy, don’t get me wrong but these things were going to happen. I see us progressing and now the first objective is to get back on track.
“When they come back from the World Cup they have been in different styles and systems.
“Players come back and they have been playing six weeks in a different environment and different style of play.
“Then they have to get back to our style and our system and our rules and principles and it’s a team sport, so all 11 have to be on the same page.
“We have huge ambition and if you have, you have to follow the highest standards and you have to live them every day.
“That is the only way to get better and to get improvement in.
“As I said, I’m happy with where we are now but I also see in football a lot of elements for improvement.”
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