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Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Hojlund arrival means Erik ten Hag faces new Man United test

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Like with his transfer announcement, Manchester United fans may have to endure a delay before Rasmus Hojlund gets into the groove of scoring goals at Old Trafford. The 20-year-old arrives in a deal that could rise to £72m, but the striker has been championed as a youngster exuding confidence who won’t let the price tag bother him. “He even seems cocky if you don’t know him,” says his former Sturm Graz boss Christian Ilzer. Hojlund has seen his stock rise by 550 per cent over the last year, having arrived at Atalanta from the Austrian side last August for just under £13m. That alone might help further inflate the confidence levels. To succeed as an attacker at the Theatre of Dreams, you need to have a swagger or risk being swallowed up. Cantona, Rooney, Ronaldo – players who had that aura and delivered so greatly that they don’t need first-name identification. ALSO READ: Why Hojlund’s United transfer announcement has been delayed Hojlund, a bit more of a mouthful, may feel he wants to emulate those greats but those self-belief levels will be severely tested in his first few months. English football is more unforgiving than the Italian game. The truth is, not many who switch from Serie A to the Premier League hit the ground running, Mohamed Salah perhaps being the exception to the rule. United fans should prepare for a bedding-in period with Hojlund and so should the player himself. He will ultimately be judged on goals and so will Erik ten Hag. The Dutchman has hardly put a foot wrong when it comes to permanent transfers during his United tenure. Lisandro Martinez and Casemiro were two of the club’s best players last season. Neither of them nor Antony, Christian Eriksen or Tyrell Malacia were sure-fire successes but Hojlund will be the biggest gamble of the lot given the importance being placed on goal scoring this season. Ten Hag has earned the right for this punt. None of his first-year recruits have been disasters while at least two have blossomed. There is a sense of trust in Ten Hag from supporters, who would have been more uneasy if this transfer scenario had happened this time last year. He is now into his third window and when Hojlund arrives will have spent a total of £388m on seven permanent players, Eriksen being a freebie. Most of those will be in his starting XI against Wolves on the opening day of the season, and the view will be that this is now Ten Hag’s team. A new goalkeeper, two defenders, three midfielders and two attackers have walked through the door since he tucked his feet under the desk. This season, some critics will not allow Ten Hag the safety net of arguing that he is having to deal with the signings of past managers, despite having had nothing to spend in January. Let’s be clear, Ten Hag is not yet near calling the squad his own. With deadwood still lying about the place, it will take another year before that can be attributed. But as for the starting XI, the United boss will be judged alone on it. Martinez, Casemiro and co have all proven their worth but Hojlund is yet to be tested, and his true impact may only be judged after a few seasons. After all at 20, he’s here for the long haul all being well. If he does have a staggered start then hopefully for United fans and Ten Hag himself, Hojlund is not a striker who relies on confidence alone. The transfer window is in full swing and United have already got their hands on two players, with Mason Mount and Andre Onana through the door at Old Trafford and Rasmus Hojlund set to follow. Our team of United experts will be on top of all the goings-on at United for the remainder of the summer window and beyond, and you can get the latest updates and inside information to your phone by joining our new free WhatsApp community below. SIGN UP HERE — We also treat our community members to special offers, promotions, and adverts from us and our partners. If you don’t like our community, you can check out any time you like. If you’re curious, you can read our Privacy Notice. Story SavedYou can find this story in  My Bookmarks.Or by navigating to the user icon in the top right.

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