Saturday , September 30 2023
Garnacho was electric

How Erik ten Hag transformed Manchester United with three changes vs Aston Villa

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Man Utd beat Aston Villa 4-2 at Old Trafford to advance into the fourth round of the Carabao Cup.

There was a startling whiff of marijuana in the first-half, as though a supporter was convinced it was the only high they would experience all evening. The second was more stimulating.

Four goals in 22 madcap minutes transformed an unwatchable League Cup tie into a watchable one. That ball would not yet drop at the feet of the substitute Alejandro Garnacho and the Manchester United supporters were already on their feet.

Garnacho had more standing ovations in his half-an-hour than an actor during awards season. To add to his goal in San Sebastian were two assists, the first a winning one for Bruno Fernandes.

United’s season will resume not in the Premier League but the League Cup with a fourth-round tie in the days between the World Cup final and the Boxing Day fixtures. For a club certain to stray close to six years sans silverware, they have to end that drought as soon as possible and the League Cup was a gateway for greater things for their last great side under Sir Alex Ferguson.

Instrumental to their name being in the draw was Fernandes. However much the Portuguese has underwhelmed for upwards of a year, it is counter-productive to reassign him the role of winger. He was relocated there against Chelsea and Sheriff last month and started on the right for the second game running.

As he did last week, Fernandes refused to be stuck as the square peg rammed into a round hole to accommodate the struggling Donny van de Beek and he teed up Anthony Martial for United’s first goal. Once he replaced Van de Beek, Fernandes was in his element, drawing the only dependable act of ‘keeping from Robin Olsen all night and settling an engrossing second-half.

That Fernandes accommodated Van de Beek as the No.10 bordered on the satirical, Ten Hag reluctant to abandon his compatriot and pupil he developed into a £40million United signing. Van de Beek would struggle to command a quarter of that fee now. His first impact in the 13th minute was a clumsily mistimed foul and for the third game running he was hooked around the hour mark.

About Charles Igbinidu

Charles Igbinidu is a Public Relations practitioner in Lagos, Nigeria

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