Larsson: What impresses me most about Hojlund
Henrik Larsson has been struck by the pace and physicality of Manchester United forward Rasmus Hojlund during his short Reds career to date.
The legendary Swedish forward has been a keen observer of Erik ten Hag’s side in recent weeks, primarily because son Jordan plays for our Champions League Group A opponents, FC Copenhagen.
Rasmus, who of course counts FCK among his previous employers, scored twice in the Danish capital to move joint-top of the 2023/24 competition's goalscoring chart. He scored five times in four games, prior to the international break.
Before our second Copenhagen game, Larsson ran the rule over his fellow Scandinavian and assessed how he has been making the adjustment to English football.
“I watched him when United played against Copenhagen at Old Trafford. I liked what I saw,” Larsson told us, from his home in Sweden.
“He is a striker with some speed. He was willing to go beyond the opponents’ back four or back three, however you want to see it.
“It’s early to say, but he looks interesting because physically, there is a presence about him.
“It's going to take some time before he settles in. He's new to the club and getting used to the other players. But hopefully for United, he can be a good striker.”
Larsson was a prolific scorer for Celtic and the Swedish national side during the 1990s and 2000s, before embarking on valuable late-career spells at Barcelona and on loan with United.
He played at a time when the default system involved two strikers playing together, whereas modern formations tend to require the no.9 to occupy central areas on their own. Henrik believes Hojlund has the strength to fulfil both roles.
“I think if you're playing up front in any system, one or two, you always should be able to keep the ball, because you're not going to be with your partner all the time, even if you're playing two up front.
“So I think that's the skillset that you need to have as a striker, because more often than not you're going to have your back towards the goal.
“And then you need to be able to both keep the ball, but also see where your team-mates are and be able to play the knock-back to one of your midfield players coming up and then going beyond again. So I think that's the skill set that you need to have in any system you play.
“Obviously a lot of teams are playing with three up front, and that means that you're going to be on your own [in the middle] more often than not. But I think that he has the physical presence to do both things.”
COULD RASMUS FACE EVERTON?
Hojlund and fellow Denmark international Christian Eriksen had to pull out of their country's qualifiers against Slovenia and Northern Ireland due to injuries picked up in United's 1-0 win over Luton Town.
Eriksen has a knee injury which is expected to keep him out for a month, while last week's update suggested Rasmus would be sidelined until the end of November.
Ten Hag will face the media at his press conference on Friday and the boss could provide further news on his no.11 then.