Erik ten Hag believes Manchester United will be an easier sell to prospective signings this summer despite the ongoing uncertainty over the club’s ownership.
Ten Hag admitted it was sometimes difficult to convince players to join United in his first transfer window at the club, even as Casemiro was persuaded to swap Real Madrid for Old Trafford, with Christian Eriksen, Antony, Lisandro Martinez and Tyrell Malacia the other key signings.
United know they will need to be active again in the coming months, with a goalscorer to take the pressure off Marcus Rashford – an injury doubt to face Wolves on Saturday – a priority along with a midfielder, right-back and goalkeeper.
Champions League football is yet to be secured but with the League Cup in the trophy cabinet and the FA Cup final to come, Ten Hag insisted players will want to come to United regardless.
“I see a big difference in comparison with last year,” he said. “There were a lot of reservations last year when I spoke with players and now many players see the project, what’s going on, the dynamic and the ambition in this project, the quality especially. They are really keen to come, I’ve noticed that.
“It looks like there were a lot of reservations last year, a lot of doubts when we approached players. This year, many quality players really want to come.”
Such conversations will only get even easier if United can lock down fourth place or better. Liverpool’s six-game winning streak, coupled with back-to-back defeats for Ten Hag’s men, has put the pressure on but United’s fate remains in their own hands.
How they handle that pressure will be a test of the progress they have made under the Dutchman in his first season.
“I think in football, particularly top football, it is always a test,” he said. “We can take confidence and take belief because we have proven we’ve beaten the best teams in the world.
“But yes, it’s a test of courage if we can do it because we are in the right position and now we have to finish it. It’s a high demand, so it needs high standards so definitely it needs courage. The players and me need to take responsibility for it, clearly.”
Ten Hag insisted he had given no consideration to dropping David De Gea after the goalkeeper’s error proved decisive in the 1-0 defeat by West Ham last time out.
The incident has led to further speculation that the goalkeeper United look to recruit this summer will not be competition for the Spaniard, but a replacement.
“As a top football player you have such circumstances and you have to deal with it,” he said. “Every top football player there’s a high demand. You have to accept it, deal with it and the demand is you have to perform.
“Is that a reason? No I don’t think that’s a reason because David is so experienced. That is not a reason. I can think about a thousand and one reasons but I don’t think that’s the reason.”