Tribal Football

The (unnecessary) attack on Rasmus Hojlund: There's something broken inside these Man Utd critics

The (unnecessary) attack on Rasmus Hojlund: There's something broken inside these Man Utd critics
The (unnecessary) attack on Rasmus Hojlund: There's something broken inside these Man Utd critics
The (unnecessary) attack on Rasmus Hojlund: There's something broken inside these Man Utd criticsAction Plus
COMMENT: There's something broken inside these Manchester United critics - especially those connected to the club. It was unnecessary. Even nasty. And it certainly makes next to no sense. This needless attack on Rasmus Hojlund... just where did it come from and what was the motivation behind it?

Gary Neville. Dwight Yorke. Treble winners. Ex-players who know the pressure of performing for Manchester United. Yet, they piled in on the Dane last week - mercilessly so. Ex-pros like Jamie Carragher and Danny Murphy have done the same.


Yet the motivation to do so is a mystery. No-one inside United have stated Hojlund is ready to match the feats of Sergio Aguero, as Neville has claimed. No-one has said Hojlund should be able to carry United's attack at his age and experience, as Murphy and Yorke are insisting. And no-one was expecting an instant impact as Carragher has since insisted.

Indeed, Erik ten Hag has been on record in recent weeks admitting he wants to find a new, senior striker to ease the burden on Hojlund. The Dutchman confirming our club sources last season stating the original plan was to get both Hojlund and Harry Kane through the doors last summer.

"I think it would help," said United's manager. "You need more options. You need double positioning in every position.

"Some positions we didn't have the choices this season - the striker position, the left-back position - and that has a negative impact on the results."

And on Hojlund specifically, Ten Hag says he was always a project: "It was a purchase for the present and the future when we decided to buy him. He has to develop, he has to improve, but he needs time - and sometimes it goes up and down."

At 21 and in his first season in England, Hojlund - for this column - has exceeded expectations. 15 goals in his debut campaign - which was interrupted by a midseason injury - is something to build on. 15 goals in a struggling team. A struggling Manchester United team. As we say, the Dane has exceeded expectations.

He's raw. Aggressive. Passionate. Everything that United's personnel have been missing in recent years. You can see the potential. You can understand the insistence of Ten Hag to spend 65m on his signing. It's all there. As his manager says, Hojlund was bought "for the present and the future".

So why can't those who are paid to discuss the game see it?

"Hojlund is not quick, skilful or clever enough for that 'Wow' factor. He's 21 and has time to develop. But right now, he is not a Champions League or Premier League-winning No 9," so claims former Liverpool and Tottenham midfielder Murphy. But is Danny talking about Hojlund here or a 21 year-old Kane?

Kane doesn't have a trick about him. He's doesn't boast blistering pace. Yet, we all know the footballer he has been allowed to develop into. Why can't these ex-players afford Hojlund the same room to improve?

No-one outside England believes United have signed a pup. 65 million quid on what we've seen from Hojlund this season? You'd take it, wouldn't you? Certainly Luca Percassi, Atalanta's chief exec, believes United have a bargain. While Keld Bordinggaard, Bayer Leverkusen's Danish director of coaching, told earlier this year: "He is raw with a lot of quality, and he is a player who is very good at connecting with the players around him. But he is also received a very good schooling at FC Copenhagen. Perhaps even better than they knew themselves."

Bordinggaard effectively articulating what we've seen played out this season. Hojlund is potential. A classic centre-forward of promise. He has everything in his armoury to develop into an excellent - perhaps even outstanding - attacking player.

The criticism, as we say, is unnecessary. No-one inside the club have made claims about Hojlund beyond the realistic. Indeed, the opposite has been true. As mentioned, Ten Hag has been very open about expectations for his young centre-forward and where he sits in his team planning. If the manager had a set number of goals for his summer signing, Hojlund has surely reached every one.

There's been no reason to check the kid. To take him down a peg. Yet these ex-pros have spent the week pulling him apart, with no acknowledgement of his youth. We've even had that story about Hojlund's teammates refusing to pass to him. All from a single sourced story - and through a third party no less.

As we say, there's something definitely broken amongst those connected to Manchester United.