Rasmus Hojlund is being forced to provide for himself this season – Man United News And Transfer News

Rasmus Hojlund has scored eight goals this season, yet the Manchester United squad have only produced three assists for the Dane. It’s a telling statistic which reveals exactly where Erik ten Hag’s side have struggled this year.

Only Crystal Palace, Sheffield United and Burnley have scored fewer goals than United in the Premier League. Manchester City have scored double the number of goals of their local rivals in the league already.

United currently languish in eighth place, with a negative goal difference. Their expected goals (xG) statistics place them only three spots above their actual goals tally, inferring a systemic issue as much as an individual one.

Mason Mount, Antony, Amad Diallo, Facundo Pellistri and Jadon Sancho have produced zero strikes between them. Marcus Rashford and Alejandro Garnacho have fared slightly better, with four and three league goals respectively. Hojlund’s fellow centre-forward, Anthony Martial, has scored just one.

The club’s top scorer in the league is, in fact, Scott McTominay, with five goals. If ever there was a statistic which spelled trouble it’s that one.

Hojlund has scored just two league goals. He has a further five in the Champions League (good enough to make him the competition’s joint-top scorer) and one in the FA Cup, courtesy of a well-taken strike against Newport County yesterday.

Neither of these two goals in the Premier League – a dramatic winner against Aston Villa in December and the brilliant opener in the draw to Tottenham Hotspur – were provided by teammates. Two of the Dane’s five goals in Europe were solo efforts as well, as was the finish yesterday.

It has been an unfortunate theme for Hojlund in his debut season in England. While his fellow forwards at rival clubs, such as Erling Haaland, Darwin Nunez and Gabriel Jesus, are inundated with chances created by their teammates’ creativity, Hojlund is comparably starved.

A combination of an injury crisis and severe teething issues with a new system has engendered this abject attack, as well as causing a dysfunctional defence and a muddled midfield. Either problem would have been a significant one to traverse on its own; the overlap has produced a disaster.

It’s fair to say any centre-forward in United’s team this season would have struggled, even a certain Englishman currently residing in Bavaria.

At only twenty years of age with limited experience of top level football, it was always going to be a tall order for Hojlund to adapt immediately to the rigours of the Premier League. His price tag – £72 million (£64 million with £8 million in add-ons) – has not helped expectations.

The Dane’s potent pairing of physicality and pace has meant he has largely handled this adaption process well, however. He’s a willing presser, constantly harassing the opposition defence in a manner which paints him in stark contrast to Martial. There have been positive examples of his link-up play, though this is an area he will have to continue to refine.

Many of his strikes, particularly the second against Galatasaray at Old Trafford and the opener against Spurs, have been genuinely world-class goals. Others, such as the winner against Villa and last night’s FA Cup clincher, have demonstrated his predatory abilities. His current level, as well as long-term potential, are evident.

Realistically, it’s Hojlund’s teammates who are largely responsible for his struggles this season.

The fact a 20-year-old, in his first season in England, is United’s top scorer in all competitions is a damning indictment on the senior attackers in the squad. The fact he’s achieved this while being starved of chances is a damning indictment on the system Ten Hag has installed.

Yesterday, Hojlund created multiple chances against Newport County and his teammates failed to convert any of them. He then created his only chance of the game himself, and scored.

There were numerous examples where United players squandered the opportunity to present the Dane with an easy finish. Alejandro Garnacho was particularly guilty of this wastefulness. The Argentine even received a rare admonishment from the Dane towards the end of the game after Garnacho chose the selfish option once again.

This lack of service has been a constant issue. At one stage before Christmas, Hojlund had received the fewest passes this season amongst all centre-forwards in the Premier League. The United team are simply are not finding him on the pitch. Whether this is due to the players’ failings or their manager’s inability is less simple.

When framed within this context, eight goals in just over 1800 minutes of football is a reasonable number for Hojlund’s debut year. Just imagine how many more he could have if his teammates would actually pass him the ball.

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