United paid more than £200 million to sign Brazilian duo Antony and Casemiro from Ajax Amsterdam and Real Madrid, respectively, as well as Argentine World Cup winner Lisandro Martinez and Dutch full-back Tyrell Malacia ahead of the current season.
Manchester United coach Erik ten Hag has admitted that his club’s excessive spending in the close season transfer window has put pressure on them to finish in the top four this season.
Before the current season, United spent more than 200 million pounds ($240.92 million) to sign Brazilian duo Antony and Casemiro from Ajax Amsterdam and Real Madrid, respectively, as well as Argentine World Cup winner Lisandro Martinez and Dutch full-back Tyrell Malacia.
Ten Hag, who took over as coach from Ralf Rangnick in April, has overhauled a squad that is looking to rebound from its worst-ever Premier League point haul last season. United is currently fifth in the standings, three points behind the top four.
“I accept how things are, and I accept the pressure,” Ten Hag said at a press conference. “But also for the managers of Chelsea and Newcastle United, two clubs that have made significant investments in their squads.
“We’re all under a lot of pressure to make the top four. Our goal is to finish in the top four and compete for trophies.”
It’s unclear whether two key players in United’s attempted transformation, first-choice center-back pairing Martinez and Raphael Varane, will be available for Tuesday’s home game against Nottingham Forest.
Varane was on the losing side as France lost to Argentina in the World Cup final last weekend, with Martinez sitting on the bench as an unused substitute.
“I can’t answer that question right now,” Ten Hag said when asked about Martinez’s availability. “He’s still celebrating in Argentina, in Buenos Aires, he’s on the tour going around in Buenos Aires.
“I can understand that, it’s very emotional, very loaded when you win the World Cup (and bring it) into your country, it’s magnificent. But Licha Martinez must also accept that the Premier League will continue on the 27th.
“Of course, Varane is disappointed about losing the final, but he can also be proud of being in the final again, and all that he has accomplished in his career, as a team and as a player, to win so many trophies, is massive.”
Ten Hag does not expect Jadon Sancho to play against Forest because he has yet to return to squad training. The 23-year-old began a four-week individual training program in the Netherlands and has not played since United’s 1-1 draw with Chelsea on Oct. 22.