ERIK TEN HAG says he will not ‘burn money’ in his pursuit of a new striker for Manchester United this month.
So he has told Anthony Martial he expects more than the French forward showed in the narrow 1-0 win over Wolves on Saturday.
However, with the club up for sale and still watching the pennies following their £206.7million summer splurge, they are focussed on a loan or a short-term deal.
Those are not easy to come by at this time of year — meaning in-form Marcus Rashford and Martial may be asked to share duties for the remainder of the season.
Rashford got the crucial winner at Molineux after initially being left out for being late for a team meeting.
But boss Ten Hag wants an improvement from Martial — who has started every game since the return of domestic football — when Bournemouth visit Old Trafford on Tuesday.
The Dutchman said: “Anthony is not used to coming on every third day because he hadn’t played for a long time before.
“So, maybe against Wolves it was not his game.
“I was more happy with his performances in the games before, you could see what kind of impact he could have.
“But you can’t expect players always play their best.
“Next game I expect a better performance from him and I think we will get that.”
Now the transfer window has opened, United are pushing ahead with their hunt for a new forward.
They have been alerted to a possible short-term move for Joao Felix.
Atletico Madrid’s £13.25m loan demand for the Portuguese star, however, is more than twice what United are willing to pay.
It is understood Felix also wants £5.3m in wages over the remainder of the season, pushing the overall cost close to the £20m mark.
United have rejected those terms out of hand and are now looking at alternatives.
Ten Hag said: “I think we have a good team when all the players are available. We have many games coming up.
“There is a need to get a forward who can have an impact, otherwise you are just burning money because you don’t strengthen the squad and it doesn’t help.”
United have ruled out recalling Ivory Coast star Amad Diallo — despite six goals in his last 11 matches for Championship outfit Sunderland.
The 20-year-old, who cost United £37m when he signed from Italians Atalanta two years ago, has been earning rave reviews on Wearside.
But Ten Hag suggested it was something they had thought about, adding: “We’ve considered everything but it has to strengthen the squad.
“On pre-season tour, I did not see him as a starting XI player or a player who can have an immediate impact. He needs experience.”
While United’s hunt for new blood goes on, there is little chance of players being allowed to leave Old Trafford.
Everton are keen on taking Anthony Elanga to Goodison for the rest of the season.
But Ten Hag said: “We need the depth and especially with the front line.”