Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag does not think a six-match unbeaten run means their season has turned a corner but he believes they are “back in the race” for the top four.

Having won just twice in nine matches and lost five in December, United have now won five and drawn one of their last six.

Last weekend’s victory at Aston Villa was important as it kept them within six points of fourth-placed Tottenham and with games to come against Luton, Fulham, Everton, Sheffield United and Brentford – not withstanding the Manchester derby in that sequence – maintaining that sort of form will push them closer to Champions League qualification.

“First of all I think it is too quick to say we turned a corner. We are not there yet. We are still not in a position,” said Ten Hag.

“We are back in the race but we are not in the position we want to be because this club definitely wants to be a minimum of top four so we have to catch up. But I think we are now in a good direction.”

The priority has to be securing Champions League football again as Ten Hag admits United are not at the level of Manchester City, Liverpool or Arsenal.

However, he knows taking the next step and re-establishing them as title challengers will take longer due to the investment they have made in young players with potential.

“In the summer I think we were in a very good moment: we were third, winning one final and in another final,” he added.

“Then you choose young players for the future and that has to do with FFP (Financial Fair Play – now Profit and Sustainability), then also you know it will take longer before you can go into the competition for the top position in the Premier League.”

The Dutchman was asked whether, during the toughest parts of the season, he had any doubts he would be able to get back on track a team which finished third last season and reached two cup finals, winning one.

He said: “I was convinced. Once the (injured) players are available then I knew the players have the quality to play for the top four and now we have to prove it. Across the whole season I was convinced of that.”

Contributing to their improvement has been the form of youngsters Alejandro Garnacho, 19, and 18-year-old Kobbie Mainoo.

Ten Hag admits if they continue their current progress they could end up saving the club millions in the transfer window.

“Manchester United will always be a buying club but I think the club’s history, in its DNA, is to give opportunities to players from the academy,” he added.

“There are players with potential and we have given them the time to develop and progress and we are mentoring them too because we saw their potential was higher.

“We also take into account that they couldn’t bring the levels in that moment but you see when you give them the opportunity they progress so quickly and they bring the team to higher levels in the long term.

“You assess the potential of the player and we were convinced of those players and I think we still have in the back of our squad young players who can make the step, like Kobbie and Garnacho have made in the last couple of months.”

Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag will not underestimate Luton but insists going to Kenilworth Road is the same as any other ground.

The Hatters have beaten Newcastle and Brighton at home, drawn with Liverpool and pushed Manchester City and Arsenal close before losing by the odd goal.

They surprisingly lost to fellow strugglers Sheffield United when they visited last weekend but Ten Hag will not read much into that result.

“It doesn’t matter who you face, if you play the best or the worst or in between, it doesn’t matter,” said the Dutchman, whose side have won five and drawn one of their last six matches.

“We respect every opponent and definitely we are not in a position to underestimate any opponent, so we will not do.

“We have to play our best because we have seen their performances across the season are very good, and especially the last weeks, they are really improving. I have a lot of respect for this team, and we have to play our best football.”

United are unbeaten in the last 12 meetings against Luton in all competitions, winning 10 and drawing two.

Their record against newly-promoted clubs – winning the last 11 games and conceding just five – is the best since the latter years of Sir Alex Ferguson’s reign when he won 12 in succession between 2011 and 2013.

And while Kenilworth Road has its own individual idiosyncrasies which most Premier League clubs will not be accustomed to, Ten Hag dismissed what effect that may have on his side.

“The pitch, is it smaller or longer? (Is it) 11 v 11? No referees are coming?” he added.

“Every ambience is different, we have to deal with the circumstances, it’s about playing football 11 v 11, we have to make it our game.

“Every ambience is different, of course, that is what I want to say and we have to deal with the circumstances. We have to make it our game.”

Gary Neville believes Dan Ashworth could be an influential figure as Manchester United’s sporting director, should he make the switch from Newcastle.

United are looking to fill the vacancy with an experienced head and are understood to have picked out Ashworth, who has performed similar roles at the Football Association, Brighton and now at St James’ Park.

Neville worked with Ashworth when he was England’s assistant manager between 2012-2016 and rates the 52-year-old as the kind of leader who could change the culture at Old Trafford, alongside incoming chief executive Omar Berrada.

“If Dan does come in, I do think there’s a chance that the performance mentality will improve, the mentality that they do have, (it) could run through the club quite quickly,” he told Sky Bet’s Stick to Football podcast.

“I’m not saying Dan is going to be a success at Manchester United, but if you’ve got the guy in from Manchester City (Berrada) and now Dan Ashworth, at least you’ve got people in roles that belong, as they’ve not had that in the last 10 years.

“(With England) he started with the Under-21s, the Under-18s and with the women’s team. You think of the success of all those teams in recent years, but that has been in the making for eight years, and it all started when Dan came in.

“I’m not saying he’s responsible for what happened, but he had a big influence with FA. They were a terrible organisation from a professionalism point of view, and I felt what he did, he put processes in place where they’re now structured and organised.”

Neville also stressed that Ashworth would expect significant power in a new backroom structure led by Ineos chair Sir Jim Ratcliffe, whose deal to acquire a 25 per cent stake in the club could be completed next week.

“I’ve no doubt that Sir Jim Ratcliffe is trusting in Sir Dave Brailsford in finding the best CEO, the best sporting director, the best head of recruitment and the best coach,” said Neville.

“It looks like they’ve got the first two, and the two yet to be sorted is the head of recruitment and the best coach, but they’re doing it one by one. I suspect that if Dan Ashworth comes in, he’ll want authority at the club to be able to make decisions.”

Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag will not have any input into the appointment of a new sporting director but admits whoever arrives will have to be “on the same page”.

The PA news agency understands the club hope to bring in Newcastle’s Dan Ashworth to fill the vacant role.

Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s deal to acquire a 25 per cent stake in the Old Trafford giants and take control of football operations is expected to be completed next week and the Ineos chairman’s determination to hit the ground running has seen his team move to strengthen United’s football leadership group, with recruitment a particular area of focus.

It is understood poor player trading is a significant area targeted for improvement, with sales pinpointed as a concern on top of United’s missteps making signings.

The appointment of a sporting director is absolutely key to that and while Ten Hag wants their philosophies to be aligned he will have no sway over who is brought in.

“I think it is very important you are on one page about football philosophy, about football tactics, about the profiles of the players you need in the team so it is very important to have very good communication so you get the right players,” said the manager.

“It is one of the most important factors to develop a good team, that you have the right players but also the right characters.

“That means you have to do the right work and be aligned and it’s a long process to get the right players in.

“I have worked in several situations where sometimes I was alone in charge, sometimes I had co-operation.

“I think it is so specific, especially on the top, and also so intense. With the number of games you need people around who are on the same page, working on the same targets to achieve the high ambitions.

“I am here and I know in what construction I am working and I am very happy in that construction. I don’t know anything about changes.

“I talk with the new sporting organisation but it is not up to me. My focus point at this moment is on this team.”

Ten Hag admits the investment and input from Ineos has provided a boost throughout the club, even at first-team level.

“You see, you feel, that ambition and it brings a mood and brings a spirit which belongs to this club,” the Dutchman added.

“I think the players, the staff are very aligned with the ambitions of Ineos because that’s why are here, that’s why we’re playing for Man Utd.

“We want to win and achieve the highest. We have to make strategies and we have to execute strategies to prove the ambitions.

“Manchester United also have to look for better, never be satisfied, good is not good enough, always looking for better and always try to every day do better than the day before.”

On the pitch Ten Hag has issues at full-back, with Luke Shaw doubtful for Sunday’s trip to Luton and Aaron Wan-Bissaka out for a longer spell.

“Luke is doubtful for the weekend but we are positive he can make it. He came off (against Aston Villa) as a precaution,” he said.

“Wan-Bissaka will take some weeks because he picked up another injury in training last week. Mason (Mount) and Tyrell (Malacia) will take some more weeks.”

Newcastle sporting director Dan Ashworth appears to be a man in demand as new Manchester United co-owner Sir Jim Ratcliffe attempts to establish a new era at Old Trafford.

Reports claim Ratcliffe has identified Ashworth as the man he wants to oversee a reboot after his purchase of a 25 per cent stake in the club was approved by the Football Association.

Here, the PA news agency takes a look at Ashworth’s credentials and career to date.

Who is Dan Ashworth?

Ashworth, 52, is a renowned football administrator who was head-hunted by Newcastle’s new Saudi-backed owners to take up the role of sporting director, which he did in June 2022 after serving a period of notice with former club Brighton. Handed responsibility for the club’s “overarching sporting strategy, football development and recruitment at all ages”, he oversaw the Magpies’ surge to a fourth-place Premier League finish and the return of Champions League football to Tyneside after an absence of two decades in his first season in the role.

What is his background?

Having been released by Norwich’s Academy as a 17-year-old full-back, Ashworth worked as a PE teacher while studying for his coaching badges – including the UEFA Pro Licence – and playing semi-professionally for St Leonards and Wisbech Town before a spell in the United States with West Florida Fury.

Where has he worked?

He was handed his first full-time role by Peterborough, where he began life as the club’s education and welfare officer and worked his way up to Academy director during Barry Fry’s reign as manager. He spent three years as director of Cambridge’s Centre of Excellence before joining forces with Aidy Boothroyd to establish West Brom’s Academy. However, it was in his role with the FA, which he took up in 2012, that his stock rose sharply. He was the man responsible for instilling an “England DNA”, an ethos encompassing the entire international set-up at St George’s Park, which has been cited as a major factor in the senior team’s progression to the latter stages of the last three major tournaments as well as success at age group level. In 2018, he joined Brighton and helped to establish the club as an emerging Premier League force.

What are his strengths?


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Ashworth is far more than a transfer guru. A man credited with an eye for undiscovered talent, his involvement on that front in recent years – and certainly at Newcastle – has been to get the deal done when a target has been identified and agreed upon. However, he sees himself largely as the hub of a wheel, linking the various activities of a club’s football operations strategically and ensuring all are functioning to the benefit of the whole. His breadth of experience in different aspects of the business and his personable manner allow him to interact effectively with staff from top to bottom.

How easy will it be to prise him away from St James’ Park?

Given their determination to get him in the first place – he resigned from his job Brighton in February 2022 and had to wait around four months to get to work at St James’ – Newcastle will be understandably reluctant to allow Ashworth to leave. However, they are equally aware that should United adopt a similar approach to theirs having persuaded their man his future lies elsewhere – after another suitable spell of gardening leave – they may simply be better off biting the bullet and negotiating his departure. Asked about his exit from the AMEX Stadium in October 2022, Ashworth said: “Sometimes in life an opportunity comes along where you just go, ‘Blimey, it’s just too good to turn down’.” That time may have arrived once again.

Manchester United are hoping to bring in Newcastle sporting director Dan Ashworth, the PA news agency understands.

Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s deal to acquire a 25 per cent stake of the Old Trafford giants and take control of football operations is expected to be completed next week.

The Ineos chairman’s determination to hit the ground running has seen his team move to strengthen United’s football leadership team, with recruitment a particular area of focus.

Manchester City’s Omar Berrada is coming in as chief executive and the Red Devils are hoping Newcastle sporting director Ashworth will form part of their new-look hierarchy.

United want to bring in the former Football Association technical director, but a deal is not necessarily straightforward given negotiations with the Magpies over cost and timeframes.

The PA news agency understands poor player trading has been a key area targeted for improvement by Ineos as they prepare to take control of football operations.

Sales have been pinpointed as a concern on top of United’s missteps making signings.

Manchester United’s squad at the end of last season was the most expensively-assembled on record, according to a UEFA report.

The Red Devils’ squad at 2023’s financial year-end cost a collective 1.42 billion euros (£1.21bn) in transfer fees, eclipsing the figure of 1.33 billion euros recorded by Real Madrid in 2020.

The United squad at the end of 2022-23 included £82million Brazilian winger Antony, £80m England defender Harry Maguire, £73m signing Jadon Sancho and the £60m Brazil midfielder Casemiro.

Further recruits last summer such as Mason Mount, Andre Onana and Rasmus Hojlund are not counted within the figures.

UEFA’s European Club Finance and Investment Landscape report found three other clubs’ squads – Manchester City, Chelsea and Real Madrid – cost more than one billion euros in transfer fees in their most recently disclosed financial year-end figures. Chelsea’s most recent figures go up to the year end June 30, 2022, and therefore do not include their heavy spending in the summer of that year or the January 2023 window.

United have become one of 15 English top-flight clubs recognised within the report as being part of a multi-club investment group, with the purchase of a 25 per cent stake by Ineos founder Sir Jim Ratcliffe almost complete. Ineos also holds majority stakes in French side Nice and Swiss club Lausanne.

In all, 105 top-division European clubs (13 per cent of the total number) have a cross-investment relationship with one or more other clubs, the report found.

There were 31 purchases of majority stakes and seven purchases of minority stakes in 2023 by groups holding a stake in at least one other European club, according to the report.

However, less than one transfer per club on average is actually executed within the same multi-club structure, the report found.

As the size of multi-club investment groups has increased, that proportion has even decreased (0.6 transfers per club in 2023 compared to 0.8 in 2021), suggesting the multi-club investment trend is not entirely driven by player transfer considerations.

Andrea Traverso, UEFA’s director of financial sustainability and research, said: “More than 300 clubs are part of multi-club investment groups, leading to an increased risk of seeing two clubs with the same owner or investor facing each other in the same competition, creating potential integrity risks at the European level.

“The current context demands strict enforcement of cost control regulations and more harmonisation of financial rules between leagues. This is paramount to limit overspending, ‘creative finance’, and rules circumvention.

“As long as differences on key regulatory matters continue between leagues, inflationary tensions will persist, contributing to imbalances and instability.”

Elsewhere, the report found spending on player wages dropped by 1.1 per cent among the clubs with the 20 largest player wage bills, with United spending 88m euros (£75m) less on player wages in 2023 compared to the year before. Barcelona and City had large increases in player wages spending – 158m euros and 68m euros (£134.8m and £58m) respectively.

Manchester United have made an approach to Newcastle sporting director Dan Ashworth, according to reports.

The Athletic has reported the 52-year-old has notified Newcastle he has been approached by the Red Devils but there has been no formal contact between the clubs.

Various media outlets have said the Old Trafford club want Ashworth to be in place this summer in time to oversee their transfer business.

Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s proposed deal to buy a 25 per cent stake in the club has been approved by both the Premier League and Football Association and is expected to be completed next week.

Ratcliffe has wasted little time in making his mark as his chemicals company Ineos takes control of United’s football operations.

Ineos sporting director Sir Dave Brailsford has been an increasing presence around the club since Ratcliffe’s deal was announced in December.

And last month United confirmed the appointment of Manchester City’s Omar Berrada as their new chief executive.

As Ineos continues to look at strengthening United’s football leadership team, with recruitment a particular area of focus, Ashworth is an ideal candidate.

He has built an impressive CV in previous roles as sporting and technical director at West Brom and Brighton and spent four years as the FA’s director of elite development.

At Brighton, Ashworth oversaw the signings of Moises Caicedo, Alexis Mac Allister and Marc Cucurella among others, while at Newcastle his incomings include Alexander Isak, Sven Botman and Anthony Gordon.

The Football Association has approved Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s purchase of a 25 per cent stake in Manchester United.

Confirmation that the Premier League had given its backing to the deal was contained within an update to the Securities and Exchange Commission on Monday evening.

A further SEC update has now revealed that approval from the FA has also been obtained as completion edges closer.

Within an amended tender offer statement published on Wednesday afternoon came confirmation that the national governing body’s approval “has already been obtained”.

The green light from the FA is one of the last remaining steps but the deal cannot be completed until the tender offer for Class A shares is finalised.

The period in which holders of Class A shares can tender them for sale has been extended from February 14 until 23:59 on February 16.

What the papers say

Tottenham are confident they will keep manager Ange Postecoglou amid interest from Liverpool, the Telegraph reports. Reds boss Jurgen Klopp announced he will step down from the club at the end of the season, with ex-midfielder and current Bayer Leverkusen boss Xabi Alonso favourite for the position.

The Daily Mail says West Ham have delayed contract negotiations with manager David Moyes as he deals with a seven-game winless streak.

Manchester United are reportedly interested in Bayern Munich defender Matthijs de Ligt, the Sun reports, with the 24-year-old said to be unhappy at the German club.

Social media round-upPlayers to watch

Bernardo Silva: Manchester City’s 29-year-old midfielder is a target for Paris St Germain with the French club reportedly ready to pay his £51million release clause, Spanish outlet Fijaches says.

Kylian Mbappe: The Athletic reports the French striker, who is available on a free transfer this summer, is not happy with Real Madrid’s latest offer.

Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s tender offer for 25 per cent of the Class A shares traded on the New York Stock Exchange has been extended until midnight on Friday night.

The offer, which is part of Ratcliffe’s deal to become the minority owner of Manchester United, was originally due to expire at midnight on Tuesday.

It was announced on Christmas Eve that the Ineos chairman had agreed to buy a 25 per cent stake in the Premier League club in a deal that included investing $300million US dollars (€331million) into their infrastructure.

As well as buying Class B shares held by the Glazer family, the announcement confirmed that Ratcliffe would offer to acquire up to 25 per cent of all Class A shares at a price of 33 US dollars (£26) per share.

Ratcliffe has conducted a series of meetings with club staff and associates in recent days.

He has met leaders of the independent Manchester United Supporters’
Trust and spoke with local leaders, including senior representatives of
Trafford Council, and Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham.

He was also among those in attendance at the Munich Air Disaster
memorial last week.

Ratcliffe is reportedly already planning to lead an overhaul of United’s
playing squad, starting with four new players to aid Erik ten Hag’s bid to lead
a belated charge for Europe.

Diogo Dalot believes super sub Scott McTominay’s never-say-die approach is the kind of mentality Manchester United need if they are to qualify for the Champions League.

A bumpy, injury-hit start to the season saw pressure mount on manager Erik ten Hag as his side were eliminated from Europe and stumbled on the domestic front.

But there have been signs of improvement since the turn of the year, with United’s unbeaten start to 2024 continuing with a late, hard-fought Premier League win at Villa.

Douglas Luiz deservedly cancelled out Rasmus Hojlund’s opener, only for substitute McTominay to meet Dalot’s excellent cross with a thundering header to make it 2-1, four minutes from time.

“I think every time he comes on the pitch, he has that mentality of trying to score goals and trying to help the team,” United right-back Dalot said.

“We need this type of mentality at this club and I think he is the perfect person to show this season that even coming from the bench, he always has a good impact.”

McTominay’s goal was his seventh in the league this season and fourth as a substitute – a league-high tally from the bench only matched by Brighton striker Joao Pedro.

The bullet header allowed sixth-placed United to reduce the gap to Villa in fifth to five points, with Tottenham a point better off in fourth.

“I think it is a really important win,” Dalot said of the push for Champions League qualification.

“We knew that today was like a final for us; pretty much every game will be for us now if we want to get top four.

“We prepared well and I am very happy with the way we performed and how we fought until the end to get the win.

“It was registered (how important the Villa match was) at the start of the week when we started preparing for the game.

“I think we had a full week of concentration and everybody tuned into what we could expect today.

“It is exactly how we prepared and how we tried to be, but like I said, we fought until the end and we really deserved the three points.”

United did, though, have to ride their luck at times.

Dalot praised goalkeeper Andre Onana for his performance – “he’s been fighting for it”, he said – and went onto highlight the impact of United’s forwards.

“When we start scoring goals, you can see how fresh they are and how motivated they are and we are very happy that they are scoring goals,” the Portugal international said.

“(Hojlund) brings calm and that’s what wins games and gives you more confidence.

“He has adapted to the team really well and we have adapted to him really well. Hopefully, he can score a lot more goals.”

Hojlund’s fifth goal in five Premier League appearances continued a run that started with his winner in 3-2 Boxing Day turnaround against Villa.

Unai Emery’s side came away with nothing from those matches and midfielder Jacob Ramsey bemoaned a lack of killer instinct on Sunday.

“We want to win games and we’ve not been great at home recently but we can take positives from the performance,” he said.

“Manchester United are a big team and we were dominant today. We were just lacking the last ball in the final third.”

On this day in 2012, Liverpool striker Luis Suarez apologised for not shaking Manchester United defender Patrice Evra’s hand before the match on the previous day at Old Trafford.

The Uruguayan was banned for eight matches after being found guilty of racially abusing Evra in October 2011 during a league game between the sides at Anfield in October.

Suarez had been expected to shake hands with the defender but failed to do so and prompted an angry reaction.

“I have spoken with the manager (Kenny Dalglish) since the game at Old Trafford and I realise I got things wrong,” Suarez said in a statement.

“I’ve not only let him down but also the club and what it stands for and I’m sorry. I made a mistake and I regret what happened.

“I should have shaken Patrice Evra’s hand before the game and I want to apologise for my actions.

“I would like to put this whole issue behind me and concentrate on playing football.”

Suarez scored in a 2-1 defeat for Liverpool, with Evra appearing to taunt him by celebrating next to him at the end of the game.

Liverpool managing director Ian Ayre claimed Suarez had misled the club after the striker indicated he would shake hands with Evra ahead of the game.

United manager Sir Alex Ferguson described Suarez as “a disgrace” while Professional Footballers’ Association chief executive Gordon Taylor branded the striker’s conduct as “disrespectful, inappropriate and embarrassing”.

United responded to the statement on their club website saying they accepted Liverpool’s apologies and expressed a desire to “move on”.

Erik ten Hag praised Scott McTominay as an example for others after the super sub sealed Manchester United’s belief-boosting win at fellow Champions League hopefuls Aston Villa.

Sunday’s clash between fifth and sixth at Villa Park began with Rasmus Hojlund – the winner when these sides met on Boxing Day – scoring in his fifth straight Premier League match.

United lost their way after that 17th-minute opener in a bright start and Villa eventually secured a deserved second-half leveller through Douglas Luiz.

But the Red Devils dug deep and McTominay made it 2-1 in the 86th minute after meeting Diogo Dalot’s cross with a powerful header – his fourth Premier League goal this season from the bench.

“This season, last season as well (McTominay made an impact), so I think he’s an example for many other players nowadays,” Ten Hag said of a player whose overall top-flight goal tally this term is seven this term.

“There are not many players who can come from the bench and bring this energy. He’s ready for every minute, always contributing to the team. Football is a team sport and we forget that often.

“But Scott is the example, always giving the spirit, in the week when he is training, doing the right things, working on himself, gives max.

“He’s ready for one minute, he’s ready for 90 minutes, he’s always ready. I think it’s great to have such a player.”

United rode their luck for large parts and Ten Hag appeared to indicate that Luiz’s shimmy goalscoring celebration fuelled his side in a win that breathes new life into their Champions League hunt.

The Red Devils are now five points behind Villa in fifth, and six adrift of fourth-placed Tottenham.

“I think we can beat any opponent away or home,” the Dutchman said after winning a first Premier League away game to a top-eight side since taking charge.

“But sometimes away we have to believe it more because then we could have won in Arsenal, where actually we deserved to win.

“We could have won in Liverpool and it’s about belief and I think this team today believed they could win this game and that’s why I think, in the end, you win the game.”

Asked about the impact of this result on the race for Champions League football, Ten Hag said: “We have to catch up.

“We are firstly in February, many games to play, but we are returning. But, still, a long way to go and we have to improve our game.

“But, of course, we are pleased that we get a series of wins.”

This was the first time this season that United have managed to win four consecutive matches in all competitions, while the remain unbeaten in 2024.

As for Villa, boss Unai Emery felt hard done by after his side slipped to a third straight home defeat in league and cup.

“I want to tell you I am very proud of our work,” the Spaniard said. “I’m very proud as everything we planned before we more or less were doing on the pitch.

“We were focused on a very good opportunity to make a big gap to them, but of course no win (for us).

“We know how difficult this match was. Manchester United in the moment  they are now and the last matches they won being confident.

“But we had control of the game, we created more chances than them, we deserved it more than them, we conceded less chances than them.

“They were clinical today, their goalkeeper was fantastic and we weren’t clinical.

“We played, maybe along with the match against Manchester City here, the best match here this season.

“Even from when we arrived here today, I think it was one of the best matches we’ve played but the result was not good and we have to accept it.”

Super sub Scott McTominay’s thundering header secured Manchester United a late, hard-fought 2-1 victory away to fellow Champions League hopefuls Aston Villa.

This felt like a match that the sixth-placed Red Devils could ill afford to lose given Unai Emery’s men were a place higher in the standings and able to extend an eight-point cushion to an eye-watering 11.

In-form Rasmus Hojlund broke Villa hearts on Boxing Day and got United off to a dream start when scoring in a fifth straight Premier League match, but the hosts responded brilliantly and deserved Douglas Luiz’s second-half leveller.

The match was on a knife-edge from that point and McTominay made another key contribution, scoring his fourth goal off the bench four minutes from time to seal the points at Villa Park.

Emery may well be wondering how his side ended Sunday’s match without so much as a point as Erik ten Hag celebrates his first Premier League away win in charge against a side in the top nine.

Furthermore, this was the first time this season that United have managed to win four straight matches in all competitions.

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