Alejandro Garnacho was a deserving man of the match after two pundits were left in awe of the Manchester United youngster’s eye-catching display against FC Sheriff in the Europa League on Thursday evening.
United ran out 3-0 winners against the Moldovan side at Old Trafford to secure their place in the next round. Indeed, they can still top the group if they beat Real Sociedad in their final game next week by any other scoreline than 1-0. United’s goalscorers on the night were Diogo Dalot, Marcus Rashford and Cristiano Ronaldo.
After the game, much of the talk was about the crazy spinning showboating performed by Brazilian star Antony. The move had co-commentator Robbie Savage fuming, while Paul Scholes insists it is something Erik ten Hag ‘must knock out of him’.
However, that should not detract from the tremendous display from Garnacho. And while he did not score or lay on an assist, both Scholes and Owen Hargreaves were in no doubt over his qualities.
The 18-year-old Argentine even drew comparisons with Ronaldo and looks a major star of the future for United.
“He was exceptional, he had real quality,” Scholes told BT Sport.
“The thing I liked about him: he was direct, he ran at defenders all the time. Tricks that had a bit of function, he had everything, it was just missing a goal or an assist.
“This club loves entertainers. He was like a young Cristiano, taking the ball down. I was impressed. Sometimes, wingers, sometimes they can’t go down that left hand side, but he could do both, and it makes you so unpredictable.
“I think his performance was exciting for an 18 year old kid but he was one to look for the future.”
Alejandro Garnacho tipped to become Man Utd regular
Scholes was then asked if Garnacho would soon land a regular shirt at Old Trafford. And Scholes insists it is not out of the question.
“Difficult to say, he’s still very young, he played against opposition that isn’t the strongest,” Scholes said.
“He’s definitely an option for the manager, he’s one to think about. He could come on for the last 20-30 minutes and he could be more dangerous because he can go past people, either side.
“There are not many wingers who can do that these days. But when you come into the team you have to take your chances as a young player and I don’t think he did his case any harm.”
Hargreaves added: “He didn’t disappoint, the fans would have loved him. We all enjoyed watching him play.
“What a beautiful feeling. He knows he played well by the way, the fans appreciated it. His family will be having a proud moment.”
After the game, Ten Hag also picked out Garnacho and Ronaldo for praise.
“Garnacho played well, he was good in his action, so that was good to see,” the United boss said.
“Seeing Ronaldo get his goal was great. He created, the team created for him and we know he has the capability to finish. He needed a goal and now I’m confident there will be more goals.”
Scholes empathy for Cristiano Ronaldo situation
Scholes, meanwhile, insists he has sympathy for Ronaldo after his recent walk-off in the match with Tottenham. That action – with unused sub Ronaldo walking down the tunnel before full-time – saw the player left out of the matchday squad to face Chelsea.
Ronaldo has subsequently apologised, leaving Ten Hag to bring him back into the line-up for Thursday’s game.
Scholes insists he empathises with Ronaldo, having done similar himself during his career.
That came back in 2001 when Scholes was left of of United’s squad that lost 3-1 to Liverpool. A couple of days later, they were due to play Arsenal in the League Cup, but Scholes withdrew his services as he was still angry at Sir Alex Ferguson.
Looking back on the incident, Scholes said: “It’s difficult to explain at the time your emotions. It was a low point of my career, something I look back on and really regret – it was so wrong to do.
“I sympathise with Cristiano. He did the wrong thing. But, your head completely goes. That’s what probably happened with Cristiano, he’s had a similar way of thinking where he’s been left out of a game so he will be raging.
“He’s still not come on and he will be thinking: ‘I can come on, score three or four goals against this team easily’.
“The longer the game goes on, the more upset you get, the red mist comes over you. You’re not thinking properly. For him to ask him to come on with two minutes to go, he will think ‘is he taking the mickey out of me?’
“He thinks he should be playing every single game and some players just can’t accept being left out. The longer that game went on the more and more furious he got.”