A youthful look to the scoresheet again as Man Utd ran out comfortable winners against the Hammers. Hojlund commemorated his birthday with a lovely step over and strike into the corner of the net. The away side put up a good account of themselves in the first half, having 13 shots. It was record for Moyes at Old Trafford, including his time in charge of us. Garnacho got the other two, one taken away from the incoming Fabianski as it deflected off Aguerd, and the second after being put through by McTominay after it was won back off Kalvin Philipps.
Go Shawty, It’s Your Birthday
When it became clear that Man Utd would not be able to financially sustain a challenge for Harry Kane, the first choice for the manager, the next best alternative was always going to be looking at a player that could become the next best thing rather than looking at the current options. Again, due to the fact that financial implications would put the club into trouble with the football authorities but also because they were not the most stellar sure-fire players that would guarantee you the goals that they money would buy. This is how we ended up in a situation where Rasmus Hojlund would be the leading striker for Man Utd for this season.
He is now 21 years old and looks like he finding his feet. There have been dawns where the talent of the boy has been clear to see. Unfortunately, they came almost exclusively in the Champions League and only in games where Man Utd lost points, especially in spectacular fashion. All in all though, you could clearly see this a player with attributes but those that are not well rounded. His movement wasn’t clinical, in the sense that he was not assured enough to make movements that had to force the pass or cross. Most of that good with the off the ball work came from the fact that he did not give up and was much better presser than his predecessors. Yet, he was often seen sprawled out on the floor having missed a cross coming in, the degrees of closeness varying.
He is not one to drop deep link play or working the channels to the extent that the CBs felt like they were playing against two strikers. That is an attribute that can come with age but he did waste his energies trying to get into wrestling matches with centre backs. It is not that it is a bad thing to let your opponent know you’re there but having to do that constantly, with the rigours of the Premier League, will take a lot out of you. In all this, his first 14 games in the league was without any fruit. It loaded pressure on the young forward in a side that was performing well below the standards set the year before.
He now has 4 in his last 4 Premier League appearances. The one he was able to get today, to mark his 21st birthday, was that it was one that struck of a man with all the confidence in the world. Something he has looked short of in the barren weeks he suffered. There has been a more instinctive aspect to his notches this season but this one, after good work from Casemiro to win it back, showed that even with time to think, he is able to show the composure and ability to generate good looks for himself. His ball striking was the one thing that stood out from his compilations with Atalanta. The fact he was able to rifle it into the net with his weaker right foot after a lovely dummy to sell the West Ham defenders shows why the £72m, all inclusive, was sanctioned by the manager and recruitment team. There is still a way to go before he is able to become that certainty of a number 9 that was wanted in Harry Kane, not all on himself as well but there is clearly light at the end of the tunnel for the Dane than seemed 2 months ago.
Home to a team against claret and blue, Garnacho seems to have the deadly eye. His two against Villa in the 3-2 win and his two today. Since he has gone over to the right, the team looks a lot more balanced and his performances has improved no end. The left footed finish, deflected off Aguerd, showed why him on the right is so much better. He seems more confident in coming inside on his left to shoot than he does going on the outside with his left to cross. The second was after some good pressing from McTominay and even though he slipped and the finish was less emphatic than you would have expected, it went into the net all the same to cast out any doubts of a Hammers comeback. His first was celebrated by sitting on the advertising boards, as he was joined by Hojlund and Mainoo. On the day that the Munich disaster was remembered, it was an image that would stoke the fans belief in the club’s persistence to youth.
The only concern to come from today was the fact that Martinez seemed to go off injured with his knee. What he gives us in build up and ball retention in the first phase is so truly important. Shaw’s reintroduction into the eleven has helped as well but Martinez is a leading light in that regard. That is not to forget his diligence in defending and it really has to be hoped that it was simply a jarring of the knee that could be overcome by the next game.
Dalot also has been regarded for his performances in recent weeks. This is the type of form he had prior to the World Cup where you can clearly see all the good he can bring when he is at the top of his game. In possession and bringing the ball up the pitch, he can be incredibly useful when he is in the right mood and the block to deny Bowen halving the deficit showed what he has to do more of when the ball is with the other team. The only doubt is how long it will continue and the dips that may come. If he is mark himself as someone as a bonafide starter, the consistency has been much better but hopefully this is just the start of that