Ten Hag: Young forwards have what they needed

Thursday 08 February 2024 15:14

Erik ten Hag says he always had the confidence that Manchester United’s young forwards would start to become more consistent in front of goal.

Rasmus Hojlund, who turned 21 at the weekend, is currently on a run of scoring in four straight Premier League games and is now into double figures in his first campaign in England.

Alejandro Garnacho, still a teenager until July, has already beaten his goals total for last season, netting seven, compared to his five in 2022/23, including vital braces in Old Trafford victories over Sunday’s opponents, Aston Villa, and West Ham United.

The duo’s contributions, when combined with Marcus Rashford’s return to form (he's registered three in our last four top-flight outings) have helped United boost a tally that was lagging behind the league’s average at the turn of the year.

Part one: Press conference v Aston Villa Video

Part one: Press conference v Aston Villa

Press conference part one | Erik ten Hag is asked about Martinez, plans for Old Trafford, contract extensions and more…

Ten Hag’s side have now hit the back of the net 11 times in three matches since the winter break, having only managed 10 across the preceding 10 fixtures.

The boss believes there are two major reasons for the increase in output.

Firstly, the likes of Hojlund and Garnacho have had more opportunity to gel together, while the return of key team-mates from injury has provided them with more chances in attacking areas.

“Players need time, especially young players,” Ten Hag explained.

“You mentioned Rasmus and Alejandro, they need time but also they need a team. So those two facts were not there in the first part of the season.

“We had to make a lot of adjustments in the way we play [due to injuries], so it was difficult to serve the offensive part of the team.

“When that happens [they get service], then it can go really quickly that players are going to develop and progress and that is what we have seen.

“But yeah, I was, from the start, confident that they have the potential to do this, what they are doing. Now it is about keep moving, keep going, be hungry.”