Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford both scored in the 3-0 mid-week win over Nottingham Forest to show there are still plenty of goals in the United squad after Cristiano Ronaldo’s exit, but Ten Hag is acutely aware of the lack of depth in his group.
With a fixture rush coming as clubs make up for lost time after the winter World Cup, that is an issue the United boss is keen to address.
“I think we have a squad, we have players who are matching our criteria,” he said. “But all the games are coming. It’s a tough competition, in all the leagues, we want to be also in all the leagues and keep playing in all the leagues and in the cups as well.
“So we need players and we need numbers to cover. So we need good players, not just the numbers, we need quality players to cover. And also we need competition and we need to know also that we can make tactical choices.
“So we are looking for the right player for our squad, but it has to match our sporting criteria, definitely, but also some financial criteria.”
United had been keen on signing Cody Gapko in the summer, but the Netherlands forward has instead joined rivals Liverpool from PSV Eindhoven.
And after spending £225million in the summer, United may need to look to the loan market rather than making a permanent signing.
Alejandro Garnacho once again made an impact from the bench on Tuesday to suggest he can have a greater role to play in the second half of the campaign.
The 18-year-old has contributed three goals and three assists in 13 appearances to date this season and Ten Hag, who takes his side to Wolves on Saturday, is hoping to see more.
“In the offensive department, we need players coming from the bench to have an impact on the game – whether you need a goal, or save when you are leading, you can go for counter-attacks or, at least, keep the win on your side,” he said.
Tuesday’s game also saw a first Premier League start of the season for Aaron Wan-Bissaka, whose only previous league involvement came as a late substitute against Liverpool in August.
But, having played 72 minutes of the Carabao Cup win over Burnley last week, the right-back completed the full 90 against Forest.
Seemingly sidelined, the 25-year-old, signed from Crystal Palace for £50million in 2019, had been linked with a move away in January, but Ten Hag suggested he can still have a future at Old Trafford.
“First you have to be on the pitch and the first half of the season he was either injured or ill, so he didn’t have a role in the squad,” he said.
“So I think the break was good for him. He returned, he was in the training camp in Spain and could play some games in preparation of the restart and now he’s playing two games and he’s doing really well, so I’m happy with his performance. But we need competition in the squad.”