Erik ten Hag insists newboy Rasmus Hojlund has the mental strength to cope with the intense pressure that has already built on his £72million shoulders.
The Danish striker is in line to take his first steps in English football at Arsenal on Sunday with all eyes on the unproven 20-year-old – and not just because of his eye-watering fee.
United quit their long-standing pursuit of Harry Kane this summer – and will soon come face to face with him, and his new club Bayern Munich, in the Champions League.
Instead, they opted for a youngster who has a grand total of 39 league starts in his career with FC Copenhagen, Sturm Graz and Atalanta.
The Danish international also has 18 league goals to his name – meaning United paid exactly £4m per goal when they signed him from Series A outfit Atalanta.
Rasmus Hojlund joined Manchester United this summer but was ruled out by an injury
Erik ten Hag says the striker has the qualities to succeed despite the big pressure on him
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With the number nine position a major headache for United for a number of years – and with Mason Greenwood now not returning to the club – it all adds to pressure on the youngster even before he has kicked a ball.
Hojlund did not get off to a perfect start by arriving with a back injury but after an impressive week in training, he is in the squad at the Emirates, with Ten Hag even hinting at a start.
And the United manager has no doubt that, despite a glaring lack of experience, Hojlund will take the pressure in his stride.
‘He is brave and that’s enough. He has belief and the rest will come,’ said ten Hag.
‘We scouted about the skill and personality. Yes, everywhere he has been so far – Austria and Italy – he’s made a big impact.
‘You need time and it will come, I’m convinced of that.
‘I think he is a different character in our squad and that makes it really exciting.
‘The balance in my squad is very good and already we noticed this week when he came in a different spirit is coming up. He gives that energy and also the players get energy from it.
United quit their long-standing pursuit of Harry Kane this summer in favour of Hojlund
‘It is very good. Give him time to settle in. No player can act from the start.
‘Of course, we expect a lot from Hojlund but he needs time to settle into the team and the way we play. The rest will come – I’m very confident of that.’
Hojlund, capped six times by Denmark, only spent one season at the high level of Serie A, having moved there last September from Austrian football.
It points to an inexperienced player being asked to solve what has long been a problem position for the Reds since the Cristiano Ronaldo experiment ended in such bitter failure.
But ten Hag claims he has not been surprised by Hojlund in training as United’s scouting system had already identified his strengths.
‘Nothing different,’ said ten Hag. ‘So far it’s been a short time and he’s not even played games and now in the training sessions, but he confirms the impression of when we scouted him.
‘We really intensely scouted him. He’s acting very good this week. Very good spirit.
Hojlund, capped six times by Denmark, only spent one season in a top 5 European league with Atalanta
‘He’s very motivated to start in the team. He can’t wait and I think we did the right thing.
‘Of course, I would have appreciated it if we had him from the first game, but that wasn’t the case but now he is fit.
‘We are happy he will definitely strengthen the squad and he will make a good impact on the team.’
A busy final day of the window saw full-back Sergio Reguilon, midfielder Sofyan Amrabat and back-up keeper Altay Bayindir added to his squad.
But the United manager refused to rank United among the title contenders – repeating a claim he made in the summer that only defending champions Manchester City can consider themselves contenders.
‘No, I say the same – all the teams around us, seven, eight teams, they all strengthened the squad, with very good players across all those teams,’ said ten Hag.
‘But I said that, due to the prospect of City winning four of the last five titles, and they won the treble. So they are the only team who can really say and target it – the other teams have to work for it.
‘As Man United, we have to win all our games, and that will be the approach and then we will see what we can fight for, we have to get into position from where we can win trophies.’
A busy deadline day saw United sign Sergio Reguilon (R), Jonny Evans, Sofyan Amrabat and back-up keeper Altay Bayindir
The Moroccan international emerged as the Red Devils’ No 1 midfield target late in the summer
Indeed, ten Hag is still looking for a positive response from his team after, again, accusing them of not displaying the right attitude or work rate across the opening games.
‘I had the problem with how the defence moved and I had a problem with the responding in the defence transition of our offensive players,’ said ten Hag.
‘It is definitely attitude. (You improve attitude) by being demanding and matching standards. That is what I demand.
‘Last year they showed they can do it in almost every game and I expect it even more. we can’t make compromises because then you become vulnerable and you don’t win games.’