Odion Ighalo scored his first Manchester United goal in midweek against Club Brugge.
He was dropped back down to the bench against Everton and had a chance to win the game as a super-sub.
He so nearly did. As Bruno Fernandes was denied in the last minute by Jordan Pickford, the ball rebounded into Ighalo’s path.
All he had to do was prod it into the net, but Pickford came leaping back into his path and blocked his effort.
It was not what you could really call a miss, even though it was a missed opportunity.
Ighalo’s denial was down to the sheer desire of Pickford to get up so quickly and recover from being out of position to make a double save. Give credit where it is due.
You could argue that truly great strikers would have found a way to score it. We know Ighalo is not one of the world’s best, but we want him to develop quickly into a matchwinner for United.
He is looking for his first Premier League goal and has had chances against Chelsea, Watford and Everton in his brief showings.
Is there a simple solution?
While Ighalo’s three league appearances have each seen him spurn chances to score, it’s notable they have all come as a substitute.
He has started one match, in the Europa League, and he scored in that one.
The simple solution is to give him starting opportunities in the Premier League and see if he can take advantage like he has threatened to do in his brief showings.
Ighalo is getting half the job right by getting into position to score in the first place. He has played a total of 59 minutes across three matches.
We knew, that by taking the desperate move to sign a striker from China, who hadn’t played a competitive game since early December, that it was going to take a while to get up to speed in terms of sharpness as well as match fitness.
Ighalo is getting there, and it’s fair to write the first month or so off. What happens next is what really matters, in the games between now and the end of the season. It’s only really fair to judge him in May.
There was some backlash against him on social media after the Everton game, which says a lot about the reactionary world we live in. He scores, he’s a hero. He misses, and he’s deemed to be a punchline.
How about giving him a run of starts before writing him off. He is showing good striker’s instincts, and linking up with his teammates well.
More game time will provide more chances, and increased opportunities to get his name on the scoresheets. As he showed on Thursday night, he will probably take one of them.
Support for Ighalo
Here is a look at some of the support of Ighalo on social media after the game…
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