Ten Hag: Why I keep picking Weghorst

Friday 10 March 2023 13:30

Wout Weghorst scored his first Old Trafford goal on Thursday night, as Manchester United swept aside Real Betis 4-1 in the first leg of our Europa League last-16 tie.

It was the Dutchman's second strike since joining the club on loan in January, and came in his 15th appearance. But after the match, Erik ten Hag waxed lyrical about the tall forward's range of qualities.
The boss admitted that our no.27 would have hoped to have found the net more often, but was very keen to stress that Weghorst's attitude and persistence help the team in a variety of ways.
Weghorst gets his goal Video

Weghorst gets his goal

Wout Weghorst scores his long-awaited first goal at Old Trafford to seal United's 4-1 win over Real Betis...

“He is often in the right position, then he fails [to score], but he keeps going,” enthused Erik.

“He showed great personality and character [and] not only in this game.
“I think also in this game he could have already [scored] his goal, early on, but he keeps focused, he keeps working and he keeps putting himself in the right positions and finally he got his goal and his reward.”
Ten Hag went on to emphasise how vital the loanee is to United's defensive effort, and praised the striker's off-the-ball movement and reading of the game – attributes which have convinced the manager to use him in a deeper role in recent weeks. 
“I think he has intelligence from positions, he is a very good anticipator,” said Erik, when asked to explain why he has sometimes decided to use Wout as a no.10. 
“Of course I tell him to [help] linking up there, which he is also doing as a high striker. But in that position, [he is] linking up and getting in front of the goal when crosses are coming in. As for the rest, there is the defending part which he is also very good [at].”
Highlights: United v Real Betis Video

Highlights: United v Real Betis

Watch two minutes of action from our Europa League first leg with Real Betis at Old Trafford...

With his fellow striker Anthony Martial being sidelined recently due to injury, Weghorst has played all 15 games since he joined on loan from Burnley.

Ten Hag hinted that the 30-year-old might have featured less had the Frenchman been available more often, but again he opted to praise Weghorst, this time for his fitness and powers of recovery. 
“Why does he start every game? Because he is capable. He is physically capable to play a lot of games. He is a very fit player, and he recovers very well. 
“I expected that he will play a lot but obviously we have an injury with Anthony Martial, so it's obvious that's the main reason why he's playing every game from the start to almost finish. 
“[Against] Barcelona I think I took him off, but many other games he played [in full], and I think he's doing well as the striker. He's also bringing good performances as the no.10 in the midfield.”