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Monday, February 26, 2024

I hope they keep going – Erik ten Hag seeing ‘progress’ from Man Utd strike duo

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Football

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Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag wants to see Rasmus Hojlund and Marcus Rashford kick on after both strikers scored in Sunday’s 2-2 draw with Tottenham at Old Trafford.

As Sir Jim Ratcliffe attended his first game since agreeing a partial takeover of the club, United were twice pegged back by goals from Richarlison and Rodrigo Bentancur in a frustrating afternoon for Ten Hag, with Scott McTominay missing a glorious chance to win it late on.

But there was encouragement in seeing summer signing Hojlund make it two goals in as many Premier League matches after a long wait to break his league duck, and then for Rashford to score only his fourth of the campaign.

“I hope they keep going, there is progress,” Ten Hag said. “They are coming up with some routines and that is what you need, especially in the front line where a quick decision has to be made and in a split second you need the right decision so you need intuition.”

This was only the sixth game in 24 domestic fixtures in which at least one of United’s forwards has found the net.

“When your forwards are not scoring it is going through the whole team,” he said. “It makes everyone insecure, starting with the front players when they are not scoring. (Alejandro) Garnacho, Hojlund, and Rashford must be a threat.”

Ten Hag claimed United should have had a penalty when Garnacho tumbled in the box but although Destiny Udogie had hold of the forward, there appeared to be little in the incident.

“Yes,” Ten Hag said when asked if it should have been a spot-kick. “But what can you do? But I am used to it, all season that is the case.

“(Away at) Spurs was similar, a clear handball from (Cristian) Romero and I can list more. In some point in the season I think it will turn to our side. Let’s hope for that.”

While Ten Hag was delighted by two “great goals” for his side, he called Tottenham’s equalisers “soft”, with Richarlison heading in from a corner and   Bentancur allowed to stride through the United box as Tottenham caught them cold at the start of the second half.

“The equaliser is no good but I have seen some good spells,” he said. “Two goals and we created other chances. We played well and that pleased me most but you are still disappointed when you get this result.”

When your forwards are not scoring it is going through the whole team. Garnacho, Hojlund, and Rashford must be a threat

Erik ten Hag

Spurs counterpart Ange Postecoglou was proud of his side having travelled north without several players through injury and illness.

Tottenham bossed possession and had 16 attempts at goal to United’s nine, but allowed the hosts to score with their only two shots on target.

“I thought it was an outstanding performance, considering the team out there today,” said Postecoglou, whose team remain fifth in the Premier League, eight points above seventh-placed United .

“It’s a difficult place to come and play. A win today would give United some kind of momentum.

“Every time these players have to deal with adversity, they do it. It was an outstanding performance, I thought they were unlucky not to win.”

Romero and Bentancur returned ahead of schedule while Micky van de Ven played almost the entire match before suffering with cramp in his first appearance since early November.

And Postecoglou said their desire to play and help a short-handed team even when not fully fit spoke of the spirit in the Tottenham camp.

“We are not (where we are) because everything is running our way,” he said. “Anyone doing an objective commentary on our season would say we have not had it easy. These guys are giving me everything. They just give everything.

“It is not always smooth but there is no manager on this planet who wouldn’t feel they are not in the right place when they put in this effort.”

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