Manchester United need a Ronaldo replacement but must ‘depend’ on Erik ten Hag

Erik ten Hag believes Manchester United must bring in a striker, but it must be “the right one” in terms of quality.

United enter their first Premier League match since the World Cup, a home match against Nottingham Forest on Tuesday, having scored 20 goals in 14 Premier League games this season and with Cristiano Ronaldo having left the club last month.

“First, that can also come out of our club – see (Alejandro) Garnacho, (Anthony) Elanga, (Facundo) Pellistri, who made a good impression at the World Cup,” Ten Hag said ahead of the game when asked if he felt United needed to sign a goalscorer in January to give themselves the best possible chance of achieving their aims this term (for Uruguay).

“And, yes, we are aware we lost a striker, so I think, yes, we have to get a striker in.

“But it must be the right one, and the right one is…

He must bring quality to the team rather than simply adding to it, as this will only cause problems. And, you know, the standards are high here at Manchester United.”

Ten Hag also believes Marcus Rashford has the ability to score 20 league goals in a season.

Rashford has four goals this season, but he has nine goals for United in all competitions, including an excellent solo effort in Wednesday’s Carabao Cup win over Burnley, and he also scored three goals for England at the World Cup.

“I said from the start that I believe he’s capable of scoring 20 Premier League goals,” Ten Hag said of the 25-year-old forward.

“I’m convinced of it. He now has four goals, but he has many more, including three at the World Cup. So you have the potential to score those numbers of goals in the Premier League as well.”

United entered the World Cup in fifth place in the table, three points behind fourth-placed Tottenham with a game in hand.

Ten Hag says he sees that as a “good sign”, bearing in mind United’s goal record, and said of their start to the season: “When I analyse the first 14 games, also Europe, we had a lot of problems in the frontline, and often I had nothing to choose, or players were not 100 per cent fit and we had to play them.

“That was an issue for the first 20 games of this season. So, I believe we will score more goals once we have players who are better fit and available in the frontline.”

He also stated that he is certain that more goals are required, in addition to various improvements.

“There are many aspects of football that we need to improve on in order to perform better and get better results – more control, more dominance in the game,” Ten Hag said.

“We’re aware that we need to score more goals. (Against Burnley) I believe we created a lot of chances, and we need to be more decisive there. You are concerned when you do not create opportunities. But, without a doubt, we need to score more.”

“I’m happy I don’t have to do that – I’ll leave that to others,” Ten Hag said when asked what grade he would give himself for his start as United manager.

“I don’t assign grades to myself. I give my all every day because I want to see a better version of myself every day. So that’s what I can promise everyone here at United, as well as the fans. I’m confident we’ll get it done correctly, and progress will be made.

“You can always do better, and as I’ve said before, being satisfied leads to laziness. That is not what I want. We must improve, and this includes the manager.”

Ten Hag also stated that goalkeeper Dean Henderson, who is on loan at Forest, does not necessarily have a future elsewhere.

“We’ll make a decision when the season is over,” Ten Hag said. “That is dependent on a variety of factors. I believe he is doing very well at Forest.”

United are said to be in positive talks with long-serving goalkeeper David de Gea about a new contract.

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