What did Erik say to Garnacho pre-match?
Erik ten Hag feels Manchester United forward Alejandro Garnacho has taken another step in his development as our exciting teenager hit a crucial goal in a shining display against West Ham United.
With the scoreline locked at 1-1 heading into stoppage-time, our no.49 curled home a delightful finish to put us ahead and send Old Trafford into bedlam – preventing an additional 30 minutes of extra time, and sealing our place in the FA Cup quarter-finals.
We had trailed to a Said Benrahma strike early in the second half before Nayef Aguerd's own-goal brought United level inside the final quarter-of-an-hour, with Garnacho’s winner followed by a strike from Fred even deeper into stoppage-time.
Even aside from his goalscoring exploits, Garnacho put in a lively and impactful display down the left flank to earn the recognition of his manager in his post-match press conference.
“I see it, I see today another step,” Ten Hag told reporters after the game.
“I said to him before the game, ‘It’s getting time you have an impact when you come on, but now you have to have an impact as a starter.’ I think he’s capable of it. So that is the next step he has to make.”
When later asked whether Garnacho’s fearlessness in possession was his key quality, Ten Hag explained that while he agrees that is a key part of our no.49’s game, that there are plenty of other attributes he brings to the table, too.
He added: “This is one of his skills, but definitely it’s a great skill when you’re fearless, when you’re brave.
“It’s a skill so specific there are not so many players in world football who can take players on or capable, they just go play and just outplay and out-dribble them. And that skill, he has. But he has more skills than only that, for example, finishing.
“But also, I see he has big energy, he is fast, he has speed, but he can keep running, for 90 minutes, for 120 minutes, it doesn’t matter how long, he can do it.”
Garnacho’s strike was his fourth of the season and two of those have now been late goals, following the youngster’s effort in the third minute of added time away to Fulham back in a 2-1 win in November – the same side we have been drawn to face in the next round of the FA Cup.
Unsurprisingly given his display and the crucial nature of his strike, Garnacho was the overwhelming winner of our Man of the Match award, voted for by fans on ManUtd.com and in the club’s official app. He was also the Emirates FA Cup’s Man of the Match winner.