Alejandro Garnacho has started eight consecutive games for Man Utd and scored three goals in all competitions so far this season; follow Man Utd vs Bournemouth in our live blog from 1.30pm on Saturday and watch free match highlights from 5.15pm
Friday 8 December 2023 22:32, UK
Erik ten Hag says Alejandro Garnacho is delivering for Manchester United after overcoming "some issues" with his attitude at the beginning of his Old Trafford career.
Garnacho has impressed for United in recent weeks despite their inconsistent results, starting eight consecutive matches in all competitions just 15 months after making his full senior debut.
His tally of three goals so far this season - including a stunning overhead kick at Everton in the Premier League - is just two shy of his total for the whole of the 2022/23 campaign. He also delivered a fine assist for Scott McTominay's winner against Chelsea on Wednesday.
The 19-year-old has become a regular in United's side barely 12 months after being criticised by both his manager and captain Bruno Fernandes for showing poor behaviour, with reports claiming he had twice been late for pre-season training last summer.
"There were some issues (with his attitude), but young players have to learn what is needed for the lifestyle of a professional footballer," United boss Ten Hag said ahead of Saturday's Premier League home game against Bournemouth.
"Our assessment at the start of the season was that we wanted to bring him in and wanted to give him the time to deliver what he's doing at the moment.
"There's big potential and a lot he can build on, but we are happy with his performances and his contribution. The base, the foundation is always the defending part, but now also attacking-wise he has the key actions - the assists, the goal threat, he scores goals, so that's of course very important for an offensive player."
Garnacho's run in the United line-up has arrived amid a poor run of form for several players, including Marcus Rashford.
Rashford was dropped for the midweek win over Chelsea following his poor performance in last weekend's 1-0 defeat at Newcastle, and the 26-year-old has struggled to replicate his displays from last term which saw him score 30 goals in all competitions.
Before losing his place, Rashford was switched to the right to allow Garnacho to play in the England international's favoured position on the left.
Ten Hag says it is up to Rashford to force his way back into the team but is confident the forward will be back to his best sooner rather than later.
"Rashford is an incredible, good player," Ten Hag, who was named the Premier League's manager of the month for November, said.
"You can't do it with 11 players, he can't play every game, he's not in this moment in the form he was last year but I am sure he will get there.
"It is up to them (to get back into the side). The team will always line themselves up and the best players who form the best team will play."
Asked if it was easier to issue instructions to Garnacho given he is younger and less experienced than Rashford, Ten Hag replied: "No, it's not easier. Rashford knows exactly what he has to do.
"All the top-level teams, all the players are doing the jobs and when you can't do it, you will not play, but I don't refer that to Rashford because Rashford is doing the job in general."
Rashford was replaced by Antony on the right-hand side of United's attack against Chelsea and another option for Ten Hag in that position would have been Jadon Sancho, but the former Borussia Dortmund player remains unavailable due to disciplinary reasons.
Sancho has not featured for United since August after declaring on social media he has "been a scapegoat for a long time". That was in response to Ten Hag stating he did not select the winger in the squad for the defeat at Arsenal due to his "performance in training".
Ten Hag wants Sancho to apologise and the United boss insists the situation hasn't changed.
"It's about culture and every player has to match certain standards," the Dutchman said. "He knows what he has to do if he wants to return, so it's up to him."
While United have struggled for goals from their forward players in the Premier League so far this season, they have been helped by the attacking prowess of midfielder Scott McTominay.
The Scotland international scored twice at Old Trafford in midweek and has now netted eight times for club and country this term.
It has been quite a turnaround for McTominay, who looked to be heading for the exit during the summer transfer window along with Harry Maguire, who was named the Premier League's player of the month for November.
"From the first moment I saw Scott, he has a very good smell to get in the box and he's a very good finisher," Ten Hag said. "That's not a surprise. When we get the balls there, he will finish.
"If you want to have a successful season you need more than 11 players. It will change throughout the season, and Scott and Harry played themselves into the team.
"That's the dedication you expect from every player. We have a squad and there's internal competition."
United face an in-form Bournemouth side at Old Trafford this weekend and Ten Hag has plenty to consider in his team selection with a must-win Champions League match against Bayern Munich to follow on Tuesday before they head to Liverpool next Sunday, live on Sky Sports.
"I think they have very good form, Bournemouth," Ten Hag said. "It's a very good side, very well constructed, capable players, again you have to play your best. Everyone is killing everyone, you have to be 100 per cent ready as a team for that game, that's our job to do, to get there.
"As a manager, my coaches, with the rest of the staff, we always consider everything but the next game is always the most important, especially in the Premier League where everyone is killing everyone, you need a strong team."
Follow Manchester United vs Bournemouth in Sky Sports' live blog from 1.30pm on Saturday and watch free match highlights from 5.15pm.
December 9: Bournemouth (H), Premier League, kick-off 3pm
December 12: Bayern Munich (H), Champions League, kick-off 8pm
December 17: Liverpool (A), Premier League, live on Sky Sports, kick-off 4.30pm
December 23: West Ham (A), Premier League, kick-off 12.30pm
December 26: Aston Villa (H), Premier League, kick-off 8pm
December 30: Nottingham Forest (A), Premier League, live on Sky Sports, kick-off 5.30pm
January 8: Wigan Athletic (A), FA Cup third round, kick-off 8.15pm
January 14: Tottenham (H), Premier League, live on Sky Sports, kick-off 4.30pm