This time last year, Ten Hag was in his yellow pastel suit, walking into Selhurst Park. He watched a sorry United end their sorry season losing to a Crystal Palace side at the hands of a former player, Wilfried Zaha. If not for Brighton, The Red Devils would have been kitting out in the Europa Conference League this year. Unfortunately, they came to Old Trafford on the first day of this season to beat us. It would be our only home loss in the league this season. We signed off the year with a win against Fulham. Kenny Tete would put them ahead but a combination of De Gea, Sancho and Bruno Fernandes in that order, saw us come from behind to win. De Gea saved a penalty(!). Yes, I know. Sancho tapped in from close range and a Fred through ball set Bruno free to dink over Leno. A good end to the league season and hopefully a win next week to really make it a great year for Ten Hag.

Fortune Favours The Right

Prior to the game, Ten Hag spoke about the goals that Rashford contributed as he marked up his 30th goal for the season, with it being his 17th in the league. Without those goals, it is unlikely that United would have been able to secure Champions League qualification on Thursday. Martial has been in and out of the team, looking more and more laboured each time he came back from the injury lay off he invariably got throughout the season. Elanga barely featured and Garnacho was used more as the punctuation point towards the end of the game rather than featuring with regular minutes. Sancho and Antony however, both have had between 1700-1800 mins – essentially half a season. Between them, they have 10 goals.

Sancho got 6 goals and 3 assists this season, which is just about a goal or assist every 180 minutes – essentially one of those every two games. In the Bundesliga, he managed to average at one of those every 90 minutes. He was particularly proficient at setting up his team mates but even when you consider the jump in quality between the leagues so the likely drop off, along with other factors that would contribute to lessening his figures, it still isn’t good enough. Today, alike Chelsea, the former Watford and Man City academy boy fared well when playing from the right. The occasion on which Garnacho hit the bar, he had a moment where he paused in the box to open up an avenue to pass. It got deflected into Malacia when it was intended for Bruno, who would eventually set up Garnacho, but it was good bit of composure. He should have had an assist from another bit of composed play but Weghorst was at the end of the perfect pitched cross so you know how that story ended. It is his biggest strength but he fails to get into positions enough to really show it.

The position with which he got the goal today is somewhere he should find himself more often. His acceleration leaves a lot to be desired so there should be more intelligence and regularity in the movements into goal-scoring areas. His bravery in getting into a central position from his wide right berth rewarded him with an easy tap in. He has competition in the wide areas, with Antony and of course, Amad Diallo impressing on his loan move. Even if he were the improving his goal contribution to minutes ratio, it is whether he is performing well enough for those minutes to be a significant amount to replicate those numbers he got in the Bundesliga.

Other Thoughts

In terms of what this game brought to Ten Hag’s thoughts with regards to the final against our city rivals, it may help confirm Fred’s place in the starting XI. Minus the fantastic assist he gave to Bruno, he gave bite in midfield that Eriksen lacks while having more quality than McTominay on the ball in the middle third. He is the best of both limited worlds when you consider the three and the match up against Man City. It’s not much but it is something.