Ten Hag defends Hojlund amid goal drought: 'We have to attack with 11'
EPL

Ten Hag defends Hojlund amid goal drought: 'We have to attack with 11'

Dec 23, 2023

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MANCHESTER, England (AP) — Manchester United’s inability to put the ball in the net is about more than just Rasmus Hojlund, manager Erik ten Hag said on Friday.

United paid $82 million to land the promising young striker, and while he’s delivered in the Champions League, the Denmark international has yet to score his first goal in the English Premier League.

United’s scoring drought is at three games and counting ahead of Saturday’s game at West Ham.

Ten Hag’s team has been blanked in four of its five matches in December. Unheralded midfielder Scott McTominay is the only United player to have scored this month — twice in a 2-1 home win over Chelsea on Dec. 6.

“My philosophy (is) we have to attack with 11, so it’s not only about one player, it’s about everyone,” Ten Hag said. “We have to (make) the movements better, decision-making on the ball has to be better, and sometimes also we have to be more clinical.”

The spotlight inevitably shines on the 20-year-old Hojlund, though, because of his price tag. He scored five times in six Champions League games — United was eliminated in the group stage — but has been shut out in 13 Premier League appearances.

“His mentality is great,” Ten Hag said. “He’s a very good performer under stress and he deals with that. But it’s not only about Rasmus Hojlund. It’s also about Marcus Rashford, it’s also about (Alejandro) Garnacho, it’s also about Antony, it’s also about Bruno Fernandes, and it’s also about Scott McTominay. There are many.

“Don’t forget our full backs, who have to be a big part in that. We work on that fact as a group. We have to demand more from each other.”

Seventh-placed United managed 0-0 at Liverpool last week, lost to Bayern Munich 1-0 in the Champions League, and lost to Bournemouth 3-0 before that. They opened the month with a 1-0 loss at Newcastle.

Rashford has scored just twice in 16 Premier League appearances. The forward netted 17 league goals and 30 overall last season.

Jadon Sancho has played in only three games and hasn’t been with the first team since early in the campaign.

Ten Hag provided injury updates on Casemiro (thigh), Lisandro Martinez (foot) and Mason Mount (calf), all of whom are expected back in mid-January. Victor Lindelof has undergone surgery and will be out for at least two weeks, the manager said.

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