Erik ten Hag: Manchester United cannot afford a striker this month

Erik ten Hag: Manchester United can’t afford a striker this month
Erik ten Hag threatens to pay the price for failing to sign two strikers last summer - Alex Livesey /Getty Images

Erik ten Hag has revealed Manchester United cannot afford to sign a striker this month due to financial constraints, despite admitting he needs reinforcements.

Anthony Martial has been ruled out for around 10 weeks, leaving 20-year-old Rasmus Hojlund - who has just two Premier League goals - as the only senior recognised centre-forward available to Ten Hag.

The United manager now threatens to pay the price for failing to sign two strikers last summer as he gears up for a critical second half of the season short of options in attack and with goals proving desperately hard to come by.

United - who opted against challenging Bayern Munich for Harry Kane - have scored just 24 goals in 21 league games this season, the same total as relegation-threatened Everton and Luton and fewer than all bar three clubs.

Marcus Rashford, last season’s top scorer who could be used as a makeshift No 9 if required, has one league goal at Old Trafford since May.

United’s pre-tax losses for the previous two seasons and the first quarter of this campaign total £215million. Under the Premier League’s profit and sustainability rules, clubs are permitted maximum losses of £105million over a three-year period.

The club can make deductions against the £215million figure for Covid losses, the academy, women’s team and community projects but their finances nonetheless remain tight.

“I looked [at strikers] but there is no space - no space on FFP to do something about this lack of quantity in the striker position,” Ten Hag said of the prospect of replacing Martial before the transfer window closes next Thursday.

“Of course, Rashford can play as a striker, we have some other creative alternatives and it’s clear Anthony is out for a couple of month. It’s a gap in our squad, that’s clear.”

United have appointed Manchester City’s former chief operating officer Omar Berrada as their new chief executive and Ten Hag said new incoming minority shareholder Sir Jim Ratcliffe and his Ineos team were already accelerating the change he feels is necessary at Old Trafford.

“It gives spirit in this whole club, everyone notices this club is going into a period of changes and it’s because we want to achieve high targets, standards have to change,” said Ten Hag, whose side face League Two Newport County in the FA Cup fourth round on Sunday.

“We started with this one-and-a-half years ago. I’m sure Ineos and me are very aligned on this. We understand we have to change and we started that process last season with the dressing room but also many departments.

“So I am very happy that I get the support and that other departments have to raise the standards, to collaborate more and Ineos can have a big impact on that.”

Goalkeeper Altay Bayindir will make his first appearance for United in their FA Cup match against Newport on Sunday
Goalkeeper Altay Bayindir will make his first appearance for United in their FA Cup match against Newport on Sunday - Matthew Peters/Getty Images

Ten Hag confirmed Turkey goalkeeper Altay Bayindir - signed from Fenerbahce in September - will make his United debut away to Newport. Bayindir has been backed to cope with any efforts by the home fans to intimidate the goalkeeper at Rodney Parade.

“He is experienced, played in a big club in Turkey under big pressure, he knows how to deal with it,” said Ten Hag. “Altay is waiting for this moment and this is his moment.”

After being eliminated from the Champions League and Carabao Cup and with little prospect of winning the title, the FA Cup represents the last opportunity of a trophy this season. “We go for it,” Ten Hag added.

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