Erik ten Hag was frustrated with Manchester United’s wastefulness in the 2-0 pre-season defeat to Real Madrid with Marcus Rashford, Scott McTominay and Alejandro Garnacho coming in for criticism.

According to stats provided by the official Premier League website, Manchester United created more ‘big chances’ in the top-flight last season than Arsenal. 84 to the Gunners’ 73.

The fact that Erik Ten Hag’s team scored a staggering thirty fewer goals than Mikel Arteta’s, then, should go a long way to explaining why – after bringing in Mason Mount and Andre Onana – the Red Devils are desperate to land a new centre-forward before 2023/24 kicks off in just over a fortnight’s time.

Real Madrid v Manchester United - Pre-Season Friendly
Photo by Ash Donelon/Manchester United via Getty Images

Manchester United lose to Real Madrid in America

Wednesday night’s 2-0 defeat to a clinical Real Madrid in Houston was a continuation of the theme. No shortage of creativity from United, but a lack of ruthlessness costing them dear.

And it’s telling that, when asked at full-time whether the performance highlighted United’s glaring need for a clinical finisher, Ten Hag responded with typical frankness.

“Absolutely,” the Dutchman told the Manchester Evening News.

“Two things: the pressing can be better from the start and scoring goals. And I think we need more players who are capable to be in the one-on-ones.”

Rashford, McTominay and Garnacho were all guilty of squandering opportunities in the penalty area. McTominay was denied by Thibaut Courtois following a trademark burst into the penalty area, while Garnacho lashed over after turning Dani Carvaljal inside-out.

“We had the situations. It was Rashford, Scott McTominay, Garnacho. You have to score,” Ten Hag adds. “It’s always difficult to see, but we are working 24/7 (to improve).”

Real Madrid v Manchester United - Pre-Season Friendly
Photo by Matthew Peters/Manchester United via Getty Images

The good news is that a deal for Atalanta poacher Rasmus Hojlund appears to be progressing fast; Alfredo Pedulla reporting that a five-year deal worth around £70,000-a-week has been agreed already.

Ten Hag kept his cards close to his chest when pressed further on United’s transfer plans, however.

“We never talk about players under contract with another club,” he said. “We have our targets. We are 24/7, we are busy with it, (trying to find) the right player to sign a contract with us.”

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