Ten Hag discusses Pellistri option
Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag believes Facundo Pellistri could prove to be another attacking option, following the Reds' 3-0 win against Nottingham Forest in the Carabao Cup semi-final.
The United boss started with Marcus Rashford, Antony and Wout Weghorst in the XI, while bringing on youngsters Alejandro Garnacho, Anthony Elanga and Pellistri from the substitutes' bench. Rashford and Weghorst both managed to get on the scoresheet, while Antony's shot led to the second goal and Pellistri and Elanga were involved in the build-up to Bruno Fernandes's late third.
Pellistri made his second appearance for United at The City Ground, coming off the bench to replace Antony in the 70th minute, and made a huge impact. He created a good chance when putting in a great cross to Wout Weghorst and provided a different type of threat in the closing stages.
Speaking at his press conference after the game, Ten Hag was pleased by the Uruguayan’s progress and hinted about him potentially making his first start, against Reading in the Emirates FA Cup on Saturday.
"We have seen some physicality and he has some good movements and some good runs in behind," said the manager. "He has speed so he has to bring that in our game. I think he is also a player who can play really good between the lines because he can be ball-secure. That he has to bring into our game.
"[He is] a little bit different, we have a left-footed right-winger in Antony, and Facundo is right-footed and I think a best chance was, well not our best chance, but a good chance he created, was his cross for Wout Weghorst [who could not direct his header on target].
When asked about Pellistri's chances of playing against Reading this weekend, the boss admitted he has already starting to think about the FA Cup tie.
"After today, I have something in my head," he said. "But I have to settle this game down and look into my plans and I have to look into Reading and then we have to make a good plan to beat Reading."
Ten Hag was also quizzed on what Weghorst's first goal for the club would mean to his fellow Dutchman, with the centre-forward pouncing on the rebound after Antony's first-half shot was saved by Wayne Hennessey.
"Yeah but, of course, for strikers, it's always important [to score]," he said. "I think he did a great job in Crystal Palace and in Arsenal, with pressing and targets. With movements, because I think the goal by Bruno in Crystal Palace, he was part of it because he makes the movement to the front post. The goal of Rashford in Arsenal, he was part of it because he made the space for Rashford by dragging the centre-half away.
"But finally, strikers are there to score goals, and when they don't score, they are not happy. So, it's important for him, for his confidence as well, that he scores that goal, and I think this is the way, this is one of the ways he can score goals: by being in the box and being present."
Weghorst's first United goal
Wout Weghorst opened his Reds account with an instinctive finish against Nottingham Forest...
Rashford has continued his fine goalscoring form, notching an excellent solo goal by beating two Forest defenders before firing past Hennessey at his right-hand post. The England striker now has 10 goals in 10 matches since returning from the World Cup. When asked if there was anyone in the country who is in better form than United’s no. 10, Ten Hag said he is pleased with the progress Rashford has made from the start of the season.
"There are more players who are playing really well," he stated. "But I am happy with Marcus, and his performance and his development. From the start of the season, he is growing and he keeps doing that, but we have to aim for more, with him, and, in the first place, he is responsible for that, to keep the process going. If he is in this moment and this spirit, I think he is unstoppable and then it is about the team to get him in the right positions."