Anthony Elanga: Manchester United striker for breakthrough season, Erik ten Hag, Cristiano Ronaldo and more | Soccer News

“We know as a group it hasn’t been good enough,” said Anthony Elanga sky sports. “Deep down we know we have to do better, but it’s time to be positive about the future and let go of the negativity.”

The 2021/22 season has been canceled for Manchester United. What has promised so much will once again yield so little.

Many expected a serious challenge for the Premier League title, but United quickly fell behind rivals Manchester City and Liverpool. They now languish in sixth place, with a top-four finish out of the question.

In a campaign that saw Ole Gunnar Solskjaer loses his job and Ralf Rangnick becomes interim managerUnited suffered early exits in both domestic cup competitions and a defeat by Atlético Madrid in the Champions League means the club’s trophy drought will extend into a sixth successive season.

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Manchester United's Anthony Elanga celebrates after scoring his team's fourth goal (AP)
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Elanga has scored four goals for Manchester United since making his debut in May 2021

Amid the chaos and disappointment, however, 20-year-old striker Elanga was a rare shining spark.

“Sometimes things don’t go our way,” he says. “All the best teams go through times like this. It’s about looking back at the end of the season and seeing what we can do better.”

United need to win their last two games to equal their worst points tally in the Premier League era. From Brighton Saturday – live of sky sports – before a trip to Crystal Palace on the final day, only wins will do to equal the 64 points acquired in 2013/14.

“We still have two games left and it’s about finishing the season as strong as possible,” added Elanga. “We just have to regroup and start the new season shooting.”

“Ten Hag will bring exciting football”

With the arrival of Ajax boss Erik ten Hag next season, it is hoped United can do just that.

The Dutchman, who will replace Rangnick on an initial three-year contract this summer, is one of the most progressive coaches in the game. He has a reputation for nurturing young talent and Elanga is a fan of him.

“You can see the way Ajax are playing in Europe. He’s a great manager with a fantastic track record in Europe. I’ve seen how good he is at developing young players, so that’s one reasons why I am truly delighted to work with him.

“Obviously we’re focused on finishing the season strong, but we’re also very, very positive for next year.”

Asked what Ten Hag can bring to United, Elanga said: “His experience in Europe, developing young players like me and we have other young players to come. He will bring exciting football to Old Trafford.

“It all starts from pre-season and how we take into account his instructions and his tactics. He will be a great addition to the club and I am really, really delighted to work with him.”

“I’m ready for the next level”

Anthony Elanga celebrates his second-half equalizer
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Elanga scored Manchester United’s equalizer against Atletico Madrid in the first leg of the Champions League Round of 16

Despite a difficult campaign for the club, Elanga can hold his head high after establishing himself as a key member of United’s first team since his debut under Solskjaer last May.

A regular feature under Rangnick, he has three goals and two assists in 25 appearances for United in all competitions in a season which also saw him represent Sweden for the first time.

“By playing 25 games for the first team and making my international debut, I personally learned a lot,” says Elanga.

“Despite what happened this season, I still feel like I learned a lot and I’m ready to take my game to the next level next season.

“I feel like I’m ready to take it to the next level. I aim to improve every day because that’s my mindset. I know I can always improve and I have wonderful players, a good staff and good people around me to help me reach that next level.”

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Watch Elanga’s goal in Manchester United’s 3-1 Premier League win over Brentford in January

Learn from Henry and Ronaldo

Elanga wants to improve and seeks the knowledge of several former and current players. One of them is his father, former Cameroon international Joseph Elanga.

“Obviously I look up to my dad. Thierry Henry is also someone I loved watching when I grew up. He could play left winger, right winger, as a striker. He was strong, quick and could to finish.

“I still watch his clips today and try to learn something from the way he was playing and try to add that to my game.”

Learning and playing alongside Cristiano Ronaldo would be an invaluable learning experience for Elanga
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Learning and playing alongside Cristiano Ronaldo is an invaluable learning experience for Elanga

In terms of current teammates, it’s no surprise to learn who Elanga draws inspiration from.

“I also grew up watching United, so Wayne Rooney and obviously Cristiano Ronaldo.

“I talk to Cristiano a lot in training and he always gives me advice. I grew up watching him at Old Trafford, so now being able to play together is just an amazing feeling.

“There are many other players who have also helped me. Like Victor Lindelof, with whom I play at international level.

“Juan Mata and Bruno Fernandes too. I also learned a lot from Zlatan Ibrahimovic from the national team. He gave me good advice. So I have a lot of experience around me that can help me achieve the upper level.”

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Manchester United’s game against Brentford in the Premier League

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