Bruno Fernandes has said this season has not been a success for Manchester United despite winning a trophy and securing a return to the Champions League.
United have lifted the Carabao Cup in Erik ten Hag’s first season in charge — with a chance to win the FA Cup in next month’s final against Manchester City — and on Thursday they earned a top-four finish with a 4-1 win over Chelsea at Old Trafford.
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Fernandes accepts the campaign has been a step forward after finishing sixth last season but said it cannot be classed as a success for a club of United’s size.
“It’s a positive season, not successful because success is different for this club and for us players it has to be too,” Fernandes said.
“We did win a trophy. We got into the top four. Now we have another final but whatever happened in that final will not change anything about the season we have done.
“After we couldn’t fight anymore for the league title we had to fight for our top four and we did it. We are really happy to be in the Champions League next season. But obviously, it’s kind of an obligation for this club to be in these positions.”
Speaking after the win over Chelsea, Ten Hag said the season has been a success but admitted his aim is to challenge for the Premier League title as soon as possible.
United are 17 points behind champions City with one game to play and the Dutch coach said his team have a lot of catching up to do.
“It’s tough here, there are really good teams, especially this season,” Ten Hag said. “Manchester City are playing really outstanding football. We have a way to go, we are in the right direction, we have work to do, so a work in progress.
“Now we are far away, so we have a lot of work to do, we’ve made progress with this team, with this squad but we need better players if we want to compete for the highest.”
Ten Hag is aiming to bring in at least a striker and a midfielder in the summer transfer window. Harry Kane and Mason Mount are among the top targets, but the United boss has also called on his current squad to step up next season.
“The other [element] is progress from the current squad and players,” Ten Hag said.
“That is the job I have to do with my coaching staff. We made huge progress. Many individuals made progress. Now we have a good base. I think there is still a lot of room for improvement with this squad.
“But when you get the right players it will help and give you more depth and better standard and level.”