Erik ten Hag just isn’t the primary Dutch supervisor to show to Wout Weghorst as an retro Plan B not too long ago. If Lionel Messi lastly profitable the World Cup, on the fifth try and in such extraordinary circumstances, ranked as one of many nice footballing tales, it was virtually ended by a somewhat much less celebrated determine.
Weghorst had already been booked earlier than Louis van Gaal introduced him on as Netherlands trailed 2-0 to Argentina within the quarter-final. The 6ft 6in striker made a mark 5 minutes later, heading in Steven Berghuis’ cross. His One hundred and first-minute equaliser, courtesy of a brilliantly labored free-kick by Teun Koopmeiners, was a sign that this explicit massive man has somewhat good toes. When Weghorst transformed his penalty within the eventual shootout, it accomplished a hat-trick of kinds.
It amounted to a heroic effort in useless, nevertheless it urged that inconceivable comebacks are a theme for Weghorst. He departed the Premier League by the backdoor, relegated with Burnley, a scorer of solely two objectives in 20 video games, the supposed improve for Chris Wood who ended up getting dropped for Ashley Barnes and whose miss at Villa Park helped seal the Clarets’ destiny. He returns to it as Cristiano Ronaldo’s alternative at Manchester United.
Sort of, anyway. With United having overspent final summer time and thus unable to afford to purchase Cody Gakpo, with their funds restricted to loans and with Joao Felix seeming too costly, the candidates comprised of these out there and . If Weghorst was very , waving goodbye to the Besiktas supporters earlier than his exit was finalised, he’s the compromise candidate, the tall determine for the short-term activity.
Van Gaal’s reinvention of Weghorst as an influence substitute could show pertinent for Ten Hag. A profession at Heracles, AZ Alkmaar, Wolfsburg, Burnley and Besiktas has virtually completely been spent as a starter. Now United are each wanting strikers, with Ronaldo, Edinson Cavani and Mason Greenwood all exiting the image within the final 12 months, and with a primary alternative, in Anthony Martial, who just isn’t deemed match to play 90 minutes but. Weghorst feels assured video games, if far much less sure to start out them.
If his transfer evokes comparisons with Odion Ighalo, one other unglamorous loanee who joined at 30, who by no means started a Premier League sport for United, who by no means scored within the prime flight however who contributed objectives towards inferior opponents within the cups, Weghorst could maintain a better potential for efficiency, given a finest return of 20 objectives in a Bundesliga season, and provide extra class. One of the few highlights of his time at Burnley, maybe bettered by a starring show in victory at Brighton, got here with a defence-splitting move for Jay Rodriguez to attain in a draw towards United.
His help numbers have lengthy been wholesome. He excels at link-up play. Wanting the ball to toes maybe hindered his trigger at Burnley: Wood was used extra as a sizeable runner who would usually stray offside than a focus to convey others into play. The figures which have garnered most consideration are Weghorst’s urgent statistics, along with his 57 pressures towards Wolves probably the most by anybody in a Premier League sport final season. If it makes him the anti-Ronaldo, Ten Hag could admire that.
But an opportunity conversion fee that, aside from his ill-fated spell at Burnley, has been between 14 and 20 % in each latest season is also helpful for a United facet outscored by Fulham, Brighton and Brentford within the Premier League.
Perhaps Ten Hag, like Van Gaal earlier than him, can replicate either side of the Dutch college of thought. The present United supervisor has made Marcus Rashford extra prolific: rewind 4 years, nevertheless, and Dusan Tadic was his 38-goal false 9, a Cruyffian idea flourishing at Ajax. But final season, Sebastien Haller, a extra standard No 9, scored 34 occasions for his Ajax group and Weghorst has extra in frequent with the latter.
He has taken one of many longer and stranger journeys to Old Trafford. His desperation for the switch maybe mirrored the best way it’s a one-off alternative, common in distinctive circumstances. When he left Wolfsburg, he most likely would have attracted a better class of suitor however for his vocal opposition to vaccination towards Covid-19. Burnley had barely gone down when he claimed he had agreed with them he wouldn’t play within the Championship. He has been proved proper, and Ronaldo’s explosive exit has created a path to Old Trafford.
His profession path is scarcely route one, however the ways could possibly be. Go again a number of years and Van Gaal’s Plan B at Old Trafford was usually to intention lengthy balls at Marouane Fellaini. It labored up to a degree, although earned him few factors for aesthetic enchantment. But rewind a bit additional and Sir Alex Ferguson thought United would have received the title in 1991-92 if he had signed the goal man Mick Harford in winter. Sometimes a giant membership wants a giant man.