An injury-ravaged Manchester United gear up to face Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich, who are further strengthened with the presence of Harry Kane upfront this campaign.
It is well known that the England skipper was the United boss’ primary target during the summer window. But with Daniel Levy refusing to budge on his stance of not strengthening a direct rival, United were forced to look elsewhere.
In came Rasmus Hojlund and despite not scoring yet, he has looked sharp and he seems to be just what the manager needed in terms of a target man who is able to play with his back to goal.
Rasmus can succeed at United, claims ETH
When asked during the pre-match press conference whether Kane would have been a better choice over the Dane, Ten Hag was quick to refute those claims and added that the 20-year-old has the talent to succeed at Old Trafford.
“We are happy with Rasmus. Obviously, in the first games, he was injured. He played against Arsenal and now he has had his first start.
“So now, of course, we have to integrate him into the team but you can see he is a big talent and he will contribute to our game. We are quite confident about that.”
The former Atalanta star has brought a different dimension to United’s attack, managing to play with his back to goal in a far more effective manner than Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial.
Unlike the wide forwards, the Denmark international was seen making lung-busting runs to the middle of the box, waiting to finish off low balls whipped into the danger area.
But where he used to be found by his teammates back in Serie A, United are struggling to do so and it is understandable as Rashford has mostly had to rely on himself to score the goals.
Marcus Rashford needs to adjust his game now Rasmus Hojlund is at #MUFC. He has to learn he’s got a centre forward who will be in the right positions for simple goals all the time.
If Rashford crossed here, United would have had a tap in.
Last season Rashford was our main man… pic.twitter.com/vqx2Kasl17
— United Peoples TV (@UnitedPeoplesTV) September 17, 2023
As seen from a comparison video doing the rounds on social media, Rashford refused to pass even when he was surrounded by opponents as he tried to dribble past all of them or chose to shoot from improbable angles even when Hojlund was busting a gut to be available for a tap-in.
The manager was asked about the need for the Mancunian to develop a healthy relationship with the new striker and adapt his game now that he has someone to share the goal-scoring responsibility.
Ten Hag indicated that the process was well underway, even during training sessions, and while it is a time-consuming process, he was sure that those signs would be witnessed by everyone soon enough.
“Yes, absolutely. The two can benefit from each other. But they have to know each other and that process has only just started. At the same time, we need results and so it has to go hand in hand.
“But we learn from every training [session] and we learn from every game. Of course, we reflect togetherness and, of course, we lead that as a coaching staff. But we have also seen that Rasmus and Rashy are together, they’re talking about how they can benefit from it.
“So you can see that discussion, that interaction on the pitch is going on, and that is a good sign. I’m sure they will get that connection. I think the connection is already there but I think they will get there.”