Ahead of Manchester United’s 3-0 win over Nottingham Forest, Erik ten Hag confirmed the club’s January pursuit of a striker.
In Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial, however, the United boss at least has players capable of keeping their Champions League push alive.
Rashford bounced back from a productive World Cup with a brilliant goal to open the scoring in a move straight past Carrington. Christian Eriksen drove a low corner into the path of the England international, who latched onto it with aplomb after easily evading traffic and desperately defending the box.
Less than four minutes later, Martial doubled the lead. Casemiro – already arguably United’s best midfield signing for years – started the fiery sweep upfield with a brilliant tackle to rob Forest at his own corner flag, the ball finding its way to Bruno Fernandes on the counter. The Portugal international then flicked a wonderful long pass to Rashford, who cut inside his defender and set up Martial to slot one through the grasp of Wayne Hennessey.
The home side survived a VAR check five minutes before the break when an offside Willy Boly deflected Ryan Yates’ header past David De Gea to deny Forest just their second away goal of the season.
Although better finishing may well have inflated the goal line, this was a thrilling United performance. More goals would have been the icing on the cake, but ten Hag’s team looked dangerous on almost every attack. Antony, Rashford and Martial were all guilty of wasting good chances, keeping the threat of an unlikely comeback alive.
The remote threat of a Forest turnaround was ended four minutes before full-time when the classy Casemiro found Fred after winning possession, with his compatriot firing home a third.
Until then, Forest had enjoyed a bit more of the ball after the break, but it rarely looked like Steve Cooper’s side would really threaten. Set pieces proved their only path and none could match the danger Renan Lodi caused for Yates’ header before the break.
Ten Hag has constantly spoken of a long-term plan at Old Trafford. There will be tougher tests, of course, but with a striker potentially arriving next month, United look set to shape it.