Erik ten Hag has challenged his Manchester United stars to fill the gaps after the club did not meet his demands in the January transfer window.
United were unable to add to their squad in January despite seeing Anthony Martial ruled out for 10 weeks after undergoing surgery on a groin complaint. Ten Hag, 54, believes he will need to be creative to help the 13-times Premier League champions meet their objectives this season.
The club currently sit in seventh in the Premier League and remain in with a chance of lifting the FA Cup. United put three points between themselves and Newcastle and Brighton with a dramatic win over Wolves on Thursday, narrowing the gap to fourth-placed Tottenham to eight points.
In the absence of deadline day signings, Marcus Rashford and Rasmus Hojlund set Ten Hag’s side up for victory as both netted in United’s win. However, both players had been substituted when United were in search of a goal after a dramatic Wolves comeback saw the teams level after 95 minutes.
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Omari Forson, 19, was brought on to replace Hojlund and the midfielder provided the assist for fellow youth prospect Kobbie Mainoo to produce a 97th-minute winner. With the Premier League’s Profit and Sustainability rules seeing a careful approach to the window, Ten Hag will need to hope similar combinations can continue to come up trumps to provide depth.
“I think it’s not a secret that I wanted a striker extra,” said Ten Hag on Friday, “Because with the injury of Martial we don’t really have back-up there, but it was not possible because we have to match the FFP rules.
“We have Omari, we have Amad Diallo, of course we have Rashford who can play there. I think for the rest, all the positions are occupied. But, yeah, we have to be a little bit creative if it’s up to the number nine position.”
United saw the likes of Jadon Sancho, Donny van de Beek, Hannibal Mejbri and Facundo Pellistri depart the club on loan, in addition to permanent moves for Mateo Mejia and Isak Hansen-Aaroen. That was not enough to provide room for the club to manoeuvre after significant spending in the summer.
Ten Hag sanctioned the arrivals of Hojlund, Andre Onana and Mason Mount over the summer for almost £200million. The Manchester United boss does not believe a good team is produced through sales, however.
“There are some disadvantages on FFP,” Ten Hag said. “So, to make space for FFP, you actually have to sell players and you have to sell good players and I don’t think that’s the way how you build a team.”
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