Manchester United are preparing to face Nottingham Forest in their first Premier League clash post the World Cup tomorrow.
With several important players missing either with injury or extended breaks following the tournament, United recorded a 2-0 win against Burnley in the Carabao Cup last week.
However, the Premier League presents a fresh set of problems for the manager and his squad. Forest are languishing at 19th in the table, but they could get an upset victory over the Red Devils.
Ten Hag and his men will be wary of a lacklustre performance as the squad is still recovering from the World Cup.
With that in mind, let’s look at three avenues that Ten Hag will focus on during the resumption of the Premier League.
#1. The centre-back problem
During his latest pre-match press conference, Ten Hag hinted at the possibility of Harry Maguire returning to the squad for the Forest clash.
The United captain missed the Carabao Cup game against Burnley through illness but was back training with the squad.
However, United will still be out with first-choice defenders Lisandro Martinez and Raphael Varane. The respective World Cup winner and runner-up are recuperating from their trip to Qatar.
This leaves the manager with few options to start at the heart of the defence. While Casemiro played as a centre-back during Burnley’s visit to Old Trafford, Ten Hag may miss some of his key defenders.
#2. Jadon Sancho will be missed at Manchester United
With Cristiano Ronaldo now officially out of the club, United are short on attacking options.
Jadon Sancho could have been a viable option for the Dutchman, but his lack of form and overall tumultuous time at Old Trafford has given the manager another headache.
With Antony still recovering from Brazil’s disappointing departure from the World Cup, Ten Hag has been forced to play Marcus Rashford on the right wing. The England International was in sublime form, but that makes Sancho’s chances of returning to the starting XI look slimmer.
The former Borussia Dortmund star will be keen to stage a comeback, and a shortage of options up front could give him the opening he needs.
#3. The best possible front three
While United await the arrival of several key players who will shape the next few months of the season, Ten Hag needs to settle on a new front three.
The Dutchman will look at who could shape United’s attack for the rest of the season and create the most chances.
While youngster Alejandro Garnacho and stalwarts Rashford and Anthony Martial seem like a good fit, they may not be enough for the club to win silverware. Ten Hag could look towards implementing Antony and even a possible January signing.
The game against Forest will provide an outline as to who could play a critical part in United’s front three for the rest of the season.