After watching the club finish in a dismal sixth spot in the Premier League last season, the Dutchman was sworn in and has already picked up his first trophy. He did so with four signings – namely Lisandro Martinez, Casemiro, Antony and Wout Weghorst – in his Wembley starting XI.
Christian Eriksen was, unfortunately, injured for the Carabao Cup showpiece, while Tyrell Malacia went unused on the substitutes bench as Marcel Sabitzer enjoyed a 20-minute cameo. Across two windows in charge, so far, Ten Hag and key figures behind the scenes have sanctioned transfers for nine players.
When it comes to incomings, things will be nowhere near that busy next summer. However, there is one rather important matter to attend to – the search for a new striker – and the former Ajax manager has already mapped out what he will demand from the player brought in to replace Cristiano Ronaldo long-term.
Ten Hag put full faith in Anthony Martial at the beginning of this season, but four separate injury setbacks have hampered what he might have added to this vibrant side. January arrival Weghorst, meanwhile, does so much encouraging work in the build-up without offering a reliable goal threat, at this level anyway.
Victor Osimhen and Harry Kane, the main targets for United and their manager, certainly do with eye-catching records this campaign and throughout their careers. Both men will cost a pretty penny should United lure them to Old Trafford, but what would they need to provide in order to justify a 100million-plus outlay?
Speaking with Manchester Evening News and other British publications about Martial during a warm-weather training camp in Spain, manager Ten Hag said: “We have seen when he is available, he has a massive impact on our game. He has 350 minutes, four goals and two assists, which is a really good record.
“In parts of his game, like pressing, he is doing a really good job for the team linking-up the play. For our team, he is a really important player and we need that profile.”
Goals have proven a little harder to come by for Weghorst – who did make his mark with an assist for Marcus Rashford at Wembley – but his profile differs to Martial, and the latter himself when the rejuvenated England forward has led the United line. Osimhen and Kane would provide contrasting attributes, too, aside from their pre-programmed disposition to score goals by the bucket load.
When praising the impact made by Weghorst since his loan switch, Ten Hag added: “He is the one who makes other players around him play better. As a team we have to work better to anticipate his movements, because his movements are good, and quite a lot of times he was close [to scoring].
“He had many good actions and already a lot of good contributions to our results. He will score [goals], but in the meantime he will do the other stuff, and do it good.”
Osimhen or Kane would (pretty much) guarantee goals to take the burden off Rashford next season. However, that will not be their only requirement as Ten Hag demands the missing piece to his attacking jigsaw.