Erik ten Hag says Manchester United must replace Cristiano Ronaldo with another striker, be that in the transfer market or promoting within.
Ronaldo’s acrimonious departure from Old Trafford was confirmed on November 22, leaving Ten Hag with a depleted attacking force with which to tackle the remainder of United’s campaign.
In the form of Alejandro Garnacho, Anthony Elanga and Facuno Pellistri, Ten Hag believes United possess players capable of filling the void left by five-time Ballon d’Or winner Ronaldo, but revealed he would be prepared to enter the transfer market, providing the right target became available.
“Two things,” Ten Hag said. “Impulse can come out of our own club, see Garnacho, see Elanga, see Pellistri, who made a good impression at the World Cup and also in training. That is first.
“Second, yes, we are aware we lost a striker, so I think we have to get a striker in, but it has to be the right one.
“The right one is a player that brings quality to the team, not just adding to the squad because that only gives you problems. And, you know the criteria is high here at Manchester United.”
Ten Hag: Rashford can score 20 PL goals
Another player Ten Hag believes could answer United’s attacking problems is Marcus Rashford.
The England international marked his return from the World Cup with a brilliant solo goal in United’s 2-0 Carabao Cup fourth-round victory over Burnley, and Ten Hag believes the forward is capable of hitting the 20-goal mark in the Premier League this season.
“I don’t want to pin myself on a number,” Ten Hag added. “I said it from the start, Rashford is capable of scoring 20 goals in the Premier League, I am convinced about that.
“He now has four, but he has many other goals, he scored three at the World Cup, so he has the potential to also score that number of goals in the Premier League.”
Ten Hag confident goals will start to flow
Rashford is United’s top scorer in the Premier League this season with four goals. Overall, Ten Hag’s side have found the net on 20 occasions this season, the fewest of any current top-seven team, but the Dutchman is confident the goals will start to flow.
“We are aware we have to score more goals, we have to improve many more of our own elements in football. We have to be more decisive. You worry when you don’t create chances, but it is clear we have to score more.
“When I analyse the first 20 games, we had a lot of problems in the front line, often I had nothing to choose, or players weren’t 100 per cent and I still had to play them.
“That was a problem during the first 20 games this season. When we get better availability of fit players in the front line, we will score more goals.”
Ten Hag: Good is not good enough
United end their 38-day World Cup intermission when Nottingham Forest travel to Old Trafford on Monday night.
Asked whether the break had presented time to mark his own performance since taking charge of United, Ten Hag said: “I am happy, I don’t have to do that. I leave that to others.
“I don’t give myself a grade. I give my best every day, I give the best I have. I want to see a better version of myself. That is what I can promise. I am confident the progress will come.
“You can always do better. When you are satisfied it brings you to laziness, I don’t want that. For me, good is not good enough, we have to do better. That also counts for the manager.”