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Monday, February 6, 2023

Erik ten Hag admits Manchester United need to sign a forward in January

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Erik ten Hag has stated there is a “need” for Manchester United to sign a forward this month to try to ensure Champions League qualification.United’s 1-0 win at Wolves on Saturday elevated Ten Hag’s side to fourth with 32 points and they have a game in hand on third-placed Newcastle, who have 34. With Cristiano Ronaldo having left before Christmas, the manager was asked whether a new attacker was required to finish in the top four.“I think we have a good team when all the players are available,” he said. “But with many games coming up, I think there is a need. But you need one who can have an impact, otherwise you are just burning money and you don’t strengthen the squad and it doesn’t help you.”Marcus Rashford scored the winner at Wolves but Ten Hag admitted Anthony Martial was not at his best, indicating this may be because the Frenchman is still to reach full match fitness after injury.“ I don’t think [he is 100%],” said Ten Hag. “He didn’t play [a lot] for a long time and probably this [Wolves] wasn’t his [best] game. I was more happy with his performances before. You could see what a real impact he can have. That’s normal. You can’t expect players to always play their best form. This was one game. In the next game, I expect a better performance from him. I think he will do, I’m really convinced of that.“I’m really happy with his performances across many games. He has a really good impact on our game. It’s really enjoyable to work with him. If you see the minutes he’s played and the impact he’s had so far, I think that’s really huge.”Ten Hag was asked about potential interest from Everton in Anthony Elanga. “I know we have good players and I know a lot of clubs will have an interest in players who aren’t playing for us so often,” he said. “But we need the squad. We need depth in the squad and especially, I would say, the front line.”Harry Maguire faces further competition to regain a starting berth after Ten Hag said Luke Shaw’s “fabulous” displays at centre-back offered another option in the position.Maguire was dropped by Ten Hag after the opening two games and last began a Premier League match on 30 October. The 29-year-old was injured in the autumn and after illness ruled him out of the Carabao Cup win over Burnley on 22 December, he was a substitute when United beat Nottingham Forest and Wolves, with Shaw partnering Raphaël Varane in central defence.With Lisandro Martínez, Ten Hag’s previously preferred first-choice central defender, back in full training after the World Cup and Victor Lindelöf also previously selected ahead of Maguire, United’s captain may effectively be fifth choice.Ten Hag said: “Casemiro did well as a centre-half [against Burnley] and then Luke Shaw did very well against Nottingham Forest. Also you look at the gameplan, the way we had to approach Wolves, and I thought it was the best match with Rapha and Luke. Especially [as] we knew the speed of Wolves from the right side and we could cover that because we wanted to attack over the left side with our offensive game from Tyrell Malacia. That was a good fit and also in possession you can have better angles with the left foot.“We have seen the last two games he [Shaw] has been fabulous. He has impressed but, of course, we also know he is really good as a left full-back. It’s an extra option and that’s always good for a team.”Ten Hag is “quite optimistic” that Scott McTominay and Lindelöf, who have been ill, will be available for Bournemouth’s visit to Old Trafford on Tuesday and said Diogo Dalot, who has been injured, had made “good progress”.

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