Manchester United

Manchester United

Premier League • England

Man Utd struggler Hojlund urged to copy ‘scruffy’ Liverpool star as Carragher warns of transfer that would ‘kill’ striker

Rasmus Hojlund has endured a difficult season at Manchester United

Rasmus Hojlund has endured a difficult season at Manchester United

Jamie Carragher has questioned the merits of Manchester United signing striker Rasmus Hojlund in a brutal assessment of his abilities, but surprisingly believes he can make improvements by copying the style of a much-maligned Liverpool attacker.

The Dane was a £72m signing for Manchester United from Atalanta last summer as the Red Devils invested big money in the 21-year-old to become a major star of the future. But his first year at Old Trafford has been dogged by inconsistencies – and somewhat befitting of a club currently in a disappointing eighth place – after hitting 14 goals in 40 appearances.

On the surface, that record does not seem entirely bad for a young player in a new country, but there are some underlying statistics that prove the 12-times capped frontman has some major improvements to make.

Indeed, it took Hojlund 15 games to score his first Manchester United goal in the Premier League and, while a purple patch followed whereby registered eight goals in eight games over Christmas and New Year, he has scored only once since.

Taking an average of just 1.30 shots per game in the Premier League, Hojlund is also well down on some his Premier League counterparts Ollie Watkins (4.32 SPG), Erling Haaland (3.97 SPG) and Darwin Nunez (3.02 SPG) this season.

Granted some of that may be United’s approach to games but after touching the ball just 14 times in Sunday’s 1-0 defeat to Arsenal at Old Trafford, worrying claims have since emerged that some of Hojlund‘s teammates deliberately don’t give him the ball due to doubts over his quality.

In a detailed critique of his performances this season, both Gary Neville and Carragher offered very differing opinions on the young Dane.

Neville offers hope to Hojlund

Suggesting Hojlund can yet improve and one day become a United equivalent of impressive Aston Villa man, Watkins, Neville stated on Sky Sports: “I think this is a kid that needs persevering with. I looked at Ollie Watkins before. He’s not going to become a Haaland or an Aguero, one of the great strikers in Premier League history, I don’t think.

“But he can become an Ollie Watkins. You can look at someone like that, I think I can get to 20 goals.

“I wish he was the second striker this season. I wish he was learning, I did the interview with Erik ten Hag last week. He mentioned Harry Kane. If he was learning off Kane now or playing with Kane, I think you’d see a completely different player.

“Secondly, he’s 21 years of age. He’s a little bit scruffy in his work is his first season in the Premier League, and he reminds me a little bit of Darwin Nunez. He reminds me a little bit of Nicholas Jackson.

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“When you look at them, they’re projects. Manchester United, this moment in time is their only striker. Manchester United is the only striker in the club. Forget Anthony Martial. He’s not been there for years.

“If you look at Nunez and if you look at Hojlund, the really interesting thing for me is that that shot conversion is up 22% so when he actually gets chances, he’s actually better than Jackson and Nunez.

“Now you might say, okay, but I think that’s something really to work with. The expected goals at the bottom, he’s only expected to score 7.4 goals.

“The service in delivery into him is poor you look at Nunez and Jackson, Jackson, they’re at 16.3 and 17, double,” he said.

Carragher questions Man Utd star’s abilities

Carragher, however, is not convinced by what he has seen from the former Atalanta man and questions whether he is of the standard required at Manchester United.

“Is that good enough?” Carragher began.

“Is that good enough for Manchester United? I mean, I feel sorry for Hojlund a little bit, but I do look at it and think, what is, what’s his trick? What does he do?

“I know he’s young, and I actually think he’s been brought in maybe a couple of years too soon.”

Countering his argument, Neville hit back by suggesting Hojlund has struggled due to a lack of consistency in United’s attack as a whole:

“This is the hardest introduction, to be honest,” Neville added. “To do for a young striker into a struggling team, interchanging team. We talk a lot of Manchester about the change in defence, but there’s been a lot of changes in attack as well.

“This is a kid who doesn’t know when the ball is going to come into the box. He’s not being serviced. He’s not getting the delivery into the box when he wants it. The inconsistency of players around him is affecting him.”

Rasmus Hojlund advised to copy ‘scuffy’ Liverpool man

Referencing the struggles in front of goal of Nunez at Liverpool, Carragher has urged the Dane to take a leaf out of the Uruguayan’s books by simply taking more shots at goal when he does receive the ball, with the old adage that, if you don’t buy a ticket, you don’t win the lottery.

“He (Hojlund) doesn’t get enough shots in the game,” Carragher continued. “I know you can go back to the fact they don’t create, they’re a little bit selfish.

“I get all that but sometimes a striker can’t just rely on service. You’ve got to do things yourself.

“I actually can picture Nunez and Jackson doing something on their own, almost a bit mad, scruffy, but a burst of pace in behind, knocking a defender out the way. I don’t really see that physicality from Hojlund.”

Quizzed if the signing of a new striker would help, or hinder Hojlund, Neville commented: “That’s the problem for Manchester United.

“Every player that has signed there in the last ten years has struggled and for young players it’s difficult, it’s really difficult.

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“I hope they can sign another striker in the summer to support him, to be a partner for him, to mentor him, so he can learn off.”

Carragher, however, has warned United that signing a striker that could potentially usurp him in attack could ‘kill’ the player’s career, rather than aid it.

“If you bring a top striker now, you kill him,” Carragher added.

“Once you’ve given him this first year you’ve almost got to give him next season and see if he is up to it.

“I think to bring someone else in now, and he is almost like the second striker, I think it makes it really difficult for him.”