Ten Hag hopes Sancho and Martial returns can end Man Utd 'compromises'

By Sports Desk February 01, 2023

Erik ten Hag hopes Manchester United can continue to call upon their full quota of attacking talents after the returns of Jadon Sancho and Antony Martial.

The two attackers were second-half substitutes in Wednesday's 2-0 EFL Cup semi-final second-leg victory against Nottingham Forest at Old Trafford, with Martial marking his return from injury with a goal.

With the aforementioned duo, Marcus Rashford, Antony, Bruno Fernandes and Wout Weghorst among those for Ten Hag in the attacking third, United have a number of options to call upon.

However, any selection headache it may present is of relief to Ten Hag, who has seen his squad have to cope with several absences so far this season.

"The problem is they were not always available until now. We did a lot of compromises during the season so far," he told Sky Sports.

"I hope we come to a point where they are available. If you want to win trophies, they need to be available because we have so many games.

"You saw today, you can do something from the bench, bring in a different dynamic."

United's triple change on the hour mark resulted in the breakthrough against Forest, with Sancho among them in his first appearance for the club since October.

The England international played a different role than was expected, occupying a more central position than one on the wing, with versatility something Ten Hag is keen to capitalise on.

"I think we've done it before. It's a different dynamic, it's what we intended to do," he explained.

"I know he can play as a number ten as well, he can play as a winger. We mix it up and around.

"That's what I like, but the position has to be occupied and the player has to keep the discipline because otherwise it's going to be a mess."

With a spot in the EFL Cup final secure, where Newcastle United await on February 26, the Red Devils can look ahead to a packed fixture schedule that includes a double-header against Leeds United in the Premier League and a two-legged tie with Barcelona in the Europa League.

However, such a congested fixture list is not of concern to Ten Hag, who welcomed the challenge it presents.

"It's a luxury problem, it's how we want it. It's normal for Manchester United to play every third day, so we're looking forward to that," he added.

"Most players are looking forward to playing games more than training. For us, we must make every game better than the previous one.

"We're looking forward to the final. It's great to go to Wembley, to play Newcastle United, who are a great team, but it's far away for us now.

"We're looking forward to the Premier League on Saturday against Crystal Palace."

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    Recalled Mustapha Bundu scored a 21st-minute winner with an angled strike after running onto a defence-splitting ball from Adam Forshaw.

    Home goalkeeper Michael Cooper made a string of stops as Leicester piled on the pressure but the hosts held on for maximum points as they moved to 16th and now sit five points clear of the bottom three.

    Dewsnip said: “We are absolutely delighted with the result. Made up but we know it’s not done yet. We still have a target and that is to stay in this league.

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    “Thankfully tonight was our night not theirs. I am sure Leicester will have theirs in the future.

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    Leicester boss Enzo Maresca took the positives from their second-consecutive loss as they remain level on points with second-placed Ipswich, with Leeds a point further back ahead of their games on Saturday.

    He said: “It has been a tough week with two defeats in a row that we did not expect so we are upset.

    “The only good thing is that fortunately, it is still in our hands.

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    Stephy Mavididi latched on to the aerial ball and headed it back across the goal, which resulted in a goalmouth scramble and Argyle eventually clearing the ball.

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    Harry Winks fired wide from 20 yards as Argyle failed to clear their lines following another City corner with the half-hour mark approaching.

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    Fatawu’s next cross from the right – after 56 minutes – found striker Patson Daka and his deft near-post touch beat Cooper but spun past the far upright.

    Daka’s last action was firing wide when well placed at the far post after 67 minutes. He was replaced by former England international striker Jamie Vardy.

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