Strikers are judged on goals and looking at Wout Weghorst‘s Manchester United record through a simple goals per game tally is not too pretty.
The Dutchman has netted just once so far. He was poor in midweek at home to Leeds, but was able to retain his place for the trip to Elland Road, through a lack of other options.
Weghorst was marginally improved in Sunday’s game. He ended up with a big contribution, providing the assist for Alejandro Garnacho to score United’s second goal.
Weghorst had an injury-time goal of his own ruled out for offside. That sums up his misfortune in front of goal right now.
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Ten Hag on Weghorst
Erik ten Hag judges Weghorst on more than goals, and he is right to. The Dutch striker gives shape to the team, providing a structure which was necessary in Anthony Martial’s injury absence.
At Old Trafford in midweek, United actually improved once Weghorst was substituted. Ten Hag resisted the temptation to do the same at Elland Road, searching for an alternative solution instead.
He dropped Weghorst into a deeper role, with Marcus Rashford leading the line and Alejandro Garnacho and Bruno Fernandes playing out wide.
Ten Hag says he is confident Weghorst can be useful in this position, and has seen him play a deeper role before.
The manager told the club website: “Wout, as a second striker, a no.10. I know him from [his] youth that he can play there.
“With Bruno on the right and Garnacho on the left, it was a dynamic to change the game and I think we can benefit from it.
“I think Rashford as a striker, Wout on the no.10 position and Bruno on the right brought more composure to our game.”
This was not the role Erik ten Hag signed Weghorst on loan to play, specifically, but he wanted Weghorst to come in and add an extra option to the attack, which he has done.
Ten Hag wants all of his outfield players to be adaptable, with no exceptions. In the same game we saw Luke Shaw play centre-back and left-back, with Bruno Fernandes and Marcus Rashford playing in different roles too.
Jadon Sancho has played on the wing and as a number 10 since his return, while Victor Lindelof has even been used experimentally in midfield. The more adaptable players Ten Hag has, the better.
It is great to have a manager with a strong tactical nous, who can mix up his options, and usually make it work effectively. Against Leeds, his decisions ended up winning the game.