Man United should NOT panic about Rasmus Hojlund's PL goal drought

Man United should NOT panic about Rasmus Hojlund’s Premier League goal drought… team-mates don’t play to his strengths and haven’t created a chance for him in 160 minutes – but an experienced striker in January can aid his development

  • Rasmus Hojlund has yet to score a Premier League goal for Manchester United 
  • It is not all the Dane’s fault – he has been starved of service from wide players
  • Chris Sutton tells all on the hardest day of his career – Listen to It’s All Kicking Off

As Rasmus Hojlund saw the No 11 come up in red on the fourth official’s board with 11 minutes to go at Fulham, frustration got the better of him. 

His withdrawal made it eight games and counting without a Premier League goal. He was annoyed, as you would expect, shaking his head before being replaced by Anthony Martial as United went in search of a winner.

Erik ten Hag tried to appease the striker before he slumped into his seat on the bench. It is four times in eight league games now he’s been hooked before the final whistle, but panic? There is no need for that. 

At Fulham it was another day where Hojlund was starved of service. 

His 79 minutes at Craven Cottage made it 160 minutes and counting since a chance was created for him by team-mates: eight minutes versus Sheffield United; 73 minutes versus Manchester City; 79 minutes versus Fulham. How is he meant to take off without the support of his team-mates?

Rasmus Hojland is still yet to score a Premier League goal since joining Manchester United

The striker is being starved of service and did not have a big chance created for him at Fulham

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Antony has not created a single goal since May.

United’s five first-team wingers, including Jadon Sancho, who has been banished from Ten Hag’s squad, have just three assists between them so far this season. All of those belong to Marcus Rashford.

And so to the surprise of very few watching United these days, Hojlund didn’t muster a single shot on goal in west London. 

‘His best attributes are not being seen because the team aren’t playing to his strengths,’ former United defender Rio Ferdinand said afterward on TNT Sports.

‘He [Ten Hag] said in his press conferences we want to play a bit more direct with players like Hojlund and Rashford who can play on the counter. Too many times they get wide and the quality is nowhere near good enough.

‘Antony doesn’t want to cross it, his first instinct is to see what he can do for himself. Marcus is more of a striker who wants to get on the end of things and see if he can finish.

‘When he’s making his movements the ball is being delayed and isn’t coming into the areas. He made one fantastic run in the first half and he was screaming for the ball and it ended up being a bad cross from Garnacho.

‘The sooner they get the ball in the box for this guy, he makes good enough runs. Play to his strengths.’

The Danish striker, who signed for £72million, was consoled by Scott McTominay at the end

Having joined from Atalanta for a fee of £72million this summer, granted there is expectation.

But there is a reason fans are not hitting the panic button when it comes to the 20-year-old. In fact, Hojlund’s struggles have only further exposed the ineffiency of the more experienced players around him. 

‘He’s not old enough to grab a few people and say get the ball into me guys’, Ferdinand continued. 

‘He’s not got that and I wouldn’t expect that yet. Ruud van Nistelrooy, you didn’t cross the ball for him and I see players resorted to tears because of his demands.’

While Antony and Co are not blubbering quite yet, the lack of service for Hojlund cannot continue for much longer.

At Fulham, Hojlund managed just three touches in the opposition’s box. Away against Sheffield United make that one touch in the opposing area. 

It was three touches in the Man City box in the 3-0 derby defeat, while Hojlund had three in the same area in the 1-0 loss to Crystal Palace.

That is four games where Hojlund combines for 10 touches in the opposing box. By contrast, Liverpool’s Darwin Nunez had 12 touches in Luton’s box in the last game alone. Hojlund is getting the rawest of deals.

Against Fulham (left) he had just three touches in the opposition’s box; away against Sheffield United recently (right) the Man United striker managed just the one touch in their box

It has been frustrating for him, but the onus is on his team-mates to do more to help him

Given Hojlund is not the problem, perhaps the recruitment of an experienced striker in January will be the catalyst for change in his form.

Mail Sport previously revealed that United are aiming to recruit a support striker for Hojlund amid concerns over his development.

There is a sense at United that Hojlund would benefit from working alongside a more experienced centre-forward, who would also be able to share the goalscoring burden.

Given Hojlund’s young age, United are considering adding a more seasoned centre-forward to their ranks at the turn of the year, believing the right addition would add value to the Dane’s development.

Provided the recruit has more potency than, say, Wout Weghorst, it is an idea that has great merit.

Brentford striker Ivan Toney is set to leave in one of the next two windows with United known to be monitoring the England striker’s situation.

Porto striker Mehdi Taremi, 31, has been linked with a move to Old Trafford in the summer and could interest United with the Iran international’s current deal set to expire at the end of the season.

Meanwhile, United have also been heavily linked with Napoli striker Victor Osimhen.

All would represent players that can aid Hojlund in unburdening him from the immediate goalscoring load. Hojlund is a real talent, exciting, ferocious, but also raw and inexperienced. 

One option is to sign an experienced striker in January, with United watching Ivan Toney (left)

Toney’s stats last season in the Premier League show 20 goals scored from 33 matches

‘I love Hojlund. Hojlund is a player that fits the United profile of player,’ Gary Neville said on the Webby and O’Neill YouTube channel.

‘He’s young, he’s got plenty of growth, he’s strong. I’d hate to play against him.’

Growth is the operative word. 

Right now his critics will hone in on the fact he has, according to Opta, an xG (Expected Goals) of 1.4 after 11 shots on goal spread over 572 playing minutes. That is a cut of 0.12 xG per completion. 

But his three Champions League goals – one against Bayern Munich and two against Galatasaray – show he can find the net when given the service.  

On the eye test, along with the recruitment of an experienced striker, fine-tuning a relationship with Rashford will go a long way to improving United’s attack. It is something Rashford himself is well aware of.

‘We have spoken to each other and done a little bit of work off the pitch, probably that the coaching staff don’t even know, between (just) me and him,’ Rashford told Premier League Productions earlier this season.

‘I just want to understand his game and for him to understand my game as quickly as possible.

‘It’s just the speed we can attack at now is completely different.

‘It’s just having that confidence that when you do make a run in behind, someone else on the opposite side is making that run and hopefully it will get to the stage where you won’t even have to look for him, you can just put it in there and we know that he is in and around there.

‘He is a big, strong, physical lad, he has good finishing abilities. So when the chances do come to him, he will score goals.’ 

Hojlund has scored three in the Champions League and fans should not panic over league form

The pair thought they had combined for Hojlund’s first Premier League goal in the home defeat by Brighton, only for VAR to intervene and rule it out.  

Chances have been at a premium ever since – not that Ten Hag is worried. 

‘I think he has such a huge potential and now it is up first to him to explore that and we will support him – all the coaches, Ten Hag said recently. 

‘I’m sure the whole team was waiting for a type like him and they will integrate and in the dressing room or on the pitch they will help him.

‘But as I said, finally the player – he has to prove it.’

To do that he needs service. Deliver that and a different Rasmus Hojlund is ready to break free from the shackles.  


It’s All Kicking Off is an exciting new podcast from Mail Sport that promises a different take on Premier League football.

It is available on MailOnline, Mail+, YouTube, Apple Music and Spotify.

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