Ten Hag handed tricky Europa League group in first European attempt as United manager

·2-min read

Erik ten Hag's first experience of European football as manager of Manchester United will see the Red Devils face off with the likes of Real Sociedad and Sheriff Tiraspol in the Europa League group stage.

Ten Hag enjoyed a successful spell as Ajax boss before making the move to Old Trafford, perhaps best exemplified in the 2018-19 campaign where he led the Dutch side to their first Champions League semi-final since 1997.

They should have gone on to the final that year too, but let a 3-0 aggregate lead slip at home to Tottenham as a 96th minute Lucas Moura goal to complete his second-half hat-trick won the tie for the Londoners on away goals, breaking Ajax hearts.

Ten Hag will therefore be desperate for a good showing in Europe this season to dispel those demons, though United have not been without their own continental misery in recent years, losing on penalties in the 2020-21 Europa League final against Villarreal.

To advance to the knockout stages of this season's edition of Europe's second competition, United will first have to overcome a group that looks anything but easy.

Sheriff beat eventual winners Real Madrid at the Bernabeu in last season's Champions League before ultimately being knocked out, while Sociedad made the knockout stages of this competition.

United will therefore have to ensure they pick up maximum points against the other team in the group, Cypriot side Omonoia.

Arsenal are another of the favourites for this season's tournament, having reached at least the semi-finals in three of their last four Europa League campaigns.

Their trickiest group-stage game looks to be against PSV, who won this competition in 1977-78, though the Gunners will fancy their chances of advancing with Bodo/Glimt and Zurich the other two sides in Group A.

Manager Mikel Arteta's side sit top of the Premier League having won their opening three matches, and the Spaniard will hope that his players can keep up their impressive domestic start while also advancing deep into the Europa League.