CHRIS WHEELER: Casemiro’s faith in Erik ten Hag’s ambition hints at bigger things to come for Manchester United after all but sealing a Champions League place with 1-0 victory over Bournemouth
End of season celebrations were in full swing on the pitch at the Vitality Stadium as Casemiro emerged from the away dressing room on Saturday night. It’s safe to say that there’s little chance of Manchester United getting into the party spirit.
Casemiro and his United teammates know Erik ten Hag has worked too hard and too long to let a top four spot slip away now. Champions League qualification was Ten Hag’s No 1 target when he took over last summer and a point from the remaining games at home to Chelsea on Thursday or Fulham on Sunday will do it.
Victory on the south coast looked good enough thanks to Casemiro’s acrobatic early effort, but Liverpool’s late equalizer against Aston Villa kept United waiting. So they moved to Chelsea’s side and Ten Hag knew what the manager expected of them.
‘He surprised me a lot with his ambition,’ admitted Casemiro, who was no stranger to a winning mentality coming from Real Madrid last summer. He asks for more because for him 100 percent is not enough. We are really close to our goal of qualifying for the Champions League. But we haven’t reached yet. We need one more point. We can’t even think about drawing the next game against Chelsea.’
Casemiro scored the only goal of a tight game with a spectacular overhead kick after Marcos Senesi tried to cut out Christian Eriksen’s clever pass, but David de Gea also played his part. The Spanish goalkeeper made some key saves, notably a one-on-one from Kieffer Moore late on, to earn the clean sheet that guaranteed him the Golden Glove award.
Casemiro has praised his Dutch manager for setting high expectations for Manchester United
Erik ten Hag’s perseverance and ambition has had a huge positive impact on his players this season
De Gea has faced criticism for his mistakes this season, the latest at West Ham two weeks ago. But he is set to sign a new contract at Old Trafford and clearly still has a lot to offer. While United kept their focus, Bournemouth could enjoy a moment with their fans following the final home game of the season. They deserve their lap of honor.
Gary O’Neil’s side have already secured Premier League safety and can go to Goodison Park on Sunday without the pressure weighing on Everton.
It was the day to welcome David Brooks back into the line-up as the Wales international made his first start since September 2021 following cancer treatment. And his team-mate Illia Zabarnyi has announced that he will return to war-torn Kiev as soon as the season ends.
‘I was playing in the Ukrainian League when the Russians attacked,’ said Zabarnyi, who joined Bournemouth from Dynamo Kiev in January. ‘Now I’m in a new country with a new team and new faces. I’m in a nice quiet city, playing in the best league in the world.
‘I talk to my family at home every day. I have many friends at home my age who stayed to defend Ukraine.
‘After the last game, I’m going home. I miss my family, my friends and my city.’
David De Gea had a beleaguered season at Old Trafford but still won the Golden Glove
Bournemouth’s January signing Illia Zabarnyi has revealed plans to return to Kyiv after the end of the season
News/Image Sources: Daily Mail