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Erik ten Hag plans to be ‘a bit creative’ after Man Utd fail to sign striker

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 2 Feb 2024

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Erik ten Hag says it is “not a secret” that he wanted to bring in a striker and admits Manchester United’s inability to sign one means he will have to be a “little bit creative” for the rest of the season.

The January transfer window has been quiet across the Premier League, thanks in no small part to the threat of its profit and sustainability rules.

United were in action during the final hours of deadline day, with teenage star Kobbie Mainoo brilliantly firing United to a 4-3 victory at Wolves deep in stoppage time on Thursday evening.

Marcus Rashford and Rasmus Hojlund were among the goalscorers at Molineux, but Anthony Martial’s groin injury means there are no other proven options to lead the line.

Omari Forson, 19, came on in place of Hojlund and assisted Mainoo on his Premier League debut, with Ten Hag needing to be similarly imaginative as United look for Champions League qualification and FA Cup glory.

Asked if he was confident he has the squad required to achieve their objectives despite not bringing in a striker, the Red Devils boss said: “I think it’s not a secret that I wanted a striker extra.

“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.”

Jadon Sancho, Donny van de Beek and Hannibal Mejbri were among those to leave on loan during a window that saw United focus on streamlining the squad.

But even getting wages off the books was not enough to free up the money required to sign the back-up striker he sought.

“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.”

United did, though, spend big over the summer, bringing in the likes of Rasmus Hojlund for a fee that could reach £72million and spending up to £47.2m on Andre Onana.

Mason Mount was the first through the door when joining from Chelsea for a fee rising to £60m but the England international has endured a nightmare first season at Old Trafford to date.

A hamstring issue and then calf complaint has restricted the 25-year-old to just 12 appearances, with the last coming against Luton on November 11.

“He was struggling from the second game of the season,” Ten Hag said of Mount, who has begun training on the grass as he steps up his recovery.

“He returns for a period and then picked up another injury, so of course that’s not great.

“That is very frustrating for him and I really feel for him, so I really want to be there for him because he had such high expectations and I had high expectations.

“I’m sure he’s a very good player for us but, first of all, what’s now important, and we have to do it very secure, is to get him fit.

“Secure in the process, step by step, don’t force it, and then hopefully by the end of the season he can stay fit and find himself in the team, or at least that he play a role in this team.

“Absolutely, I expect him to return this season.”

The United boss does not expect Mount, Tyrell Malacia or Aaron Wan-Bissaka back to face West Ham on Sunday.

Sofyan Amrabat will return to training on Saturday after Morocco’s exit from the Africa Cup of Nations and Ten Hag says Victor Lindelof is “on his way back” having returned to team training on Wednesday.

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