Erik ten Hag admits Manchester United “need to act” in the transfer market

Erik ten Hag has denied there is panic within Manchester United over recruitment, but admitted that with less than three weeks to go until the transfer window closes, the club “have to act”.

United have so far signed Christian Eriksen, Lisandro Martinez and Tyrell Malacia, with the hope of bringing in Adrien Rabiot from Juventus. They also maintain a long-term interest in Barcelona’s Frenkie de Jong and Ajax’s Antony. A bid to sign Marko Arnautovic from Bologna was abandoned on Tuesday after an £8m bid was rejected and a major reaction from United fans to news of the club’s interest in the former West Ham striker .

Moves for Rabiot as a possible alternative to De Jong and 33-year-old Arnautovic as a different option to Antony have prompted scrutiny of United’s market acumen. At Ten Hag, whose first Premier League game as United manager ended in defeat at Brighton on Sunday, he was asked if he sensed panic at the club.

“When Manchester United don’t perform, they don’t win, that’s normal,” the Dutchman said ahead of Saturday’s visit to Brentford. “I would be more panicked when there was no panic because we have to win. This is the demand. Still, I’d say panic isn’t the right word. It’s more like, “Come on, we have to act.” We have to think carefully and do the right things.”

Ten Hag was appointed United’s new manager almost four months ago. The 52-year-old was asked if “disaster” is a fair characterization of the club’s failure to sign the midfielder and striker they want this term. “No,” insisted Ten Hag. “Of course, that would be my preference because we could start the process earlier [making these signings]that’s pretty clear, but the season is long and you have to put the right players in.”

Ten Hag wondered why this has not happened. “That’s a hard answer,” he replied. “When you have an hour then [I can]. It is very complicated but we are very happy with what we have done so far. That was the bright spot of last week and before. Tyrell Malacia did very well, Christian Eriksen and Lisandro Martínez, both very good in the game against Brighton. We are very happy with this.

“Of course, there are new developments in the signing market [that may cause compromises] but we still need to get players who can contribute and not players who can’t do what we want with the squad we have and then improve the team. We cooperate well [he and the executive] and it is to my satisfaction. [But] it was better to get the players earlier because now in the midfield department and [attack] You have seen that when we have an injury we have a problem. That’s clear.”

Anthony Martial’s hamstring problem rules him out of the trip to Brentford. Cristiano Ronaldo is fit to start, however, after a truncated pre-season. Ten Hag was asked how he manages a player who wants to leave the club. “That’s your guess [that Ronaldo wishes to depart],” he said. “That’s not what he’s telling me. So I deal with the players that we have and we plan with him for this season and we have to fit him into the team so that he has to get to the right level so that he can do the job that we expect him to do.”

Marcus Rashford was wanted by Paris Saint-Germain, but it seems the French club have withdrawn their interest. Asked if he had spoken to the striker about the situation, Ten Hag said: “Not yet, but he knows I love him, he knows I want him here, so I’ll tell him again.”

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