Rasmus Hojlund explains emotion behind Man Utd celebration after scoring first Premier League goal as Ten Hag backs star
OLD TRAFFORD, MANCHESTER — Rasmus Hojlund broke his Premier League goalscoring duck in arguably the most dramatic fashion as Manchester United scored three goals in 30 minutes to overcome a two-goal deficit against Aston Villa.
Despite being knocked out of the Champions League group stages, no player has scored more goals than Hojlund in the competition and with United’s elimination, the attention soon turned to his league form where he had gone 14 games without his goal.
Pressure was beginning to surround the United striker on social media and some were starting to question the club’s decision to spend £64 million on a striker who had just nine goals in 32 Serie A appearances.
But his manager, Erik ten Hag, was never going to be one of those doubters. In his post-match press conference, he revealed he had discussed the domestic drought with the 20-year-old and reminded him of his goalscoring ability.
“I pointed out you scored for Denmark a lot, you scored in the Champions League, so you demonstrated ability,” the Dutchman said of his conversation with Hojlund. “You can do it, believe in it, it will come. I am sure now the first goal is in, more will come.”
Hojlund: You can see the relief
That same confidence and belief was shared by the Dutch manager’s centre-forward and he expressed his relief: “It was nice. Of course, I was happy,” he said. “You can see the relief in my celebration as well, but also the feeling of being the match-winner and getting the three points at home against a good opponent. I’m a lucky and happy man.”
The Denmark international was also keen to remind reporters that he has scored important goals this season, including five in the Champions League.
“(Weight off your shoulders?) Not at all. I just try to focus on my game and try to put myself in front of the goal all the time,” he said. “Of course, there is a relief to score my first Premier League goal, but it isn’t like I haven’t scored goals; I’ve scored five in the Champions League. So, I was very happy and you can see the relief in my celebration.
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“I try not to focus too much about the media. If I did that, I would get crazy in my head. I just try to focus on my game and try to be better at the training pitch every day. The hard work pays off.”
Why did it take Rasmus Hojlund 15 league matches to score?
When looking deeper into Hojlund’s 15-match journey to register a goal in the league, two key reasons emerge.
The young striker has consistently generated goal-scoring opportunities when supplied with passes from wide areas in the final third. He has, however, missed nine big chances in the league this season, but the current top goalscorer, Erling Haaland has missed nearly double that tally.
The problem has been the lack of those passes from wide areas as the majority of the service provided so far, during his time as a United player, has been direct deliveries originating from deeper positions on the pitch. He often receives a pass with his back to the goal, holds off opponents, and connects well with players out wide. However, the issue arises when the wide players struggle to find him in the box in the next play.
Hojlund says it doesn’t matter who starts alongside him in United’s front three, they just have to find each other and create. “I want to say I don’t care who I am playing with,” he said. “I think we all play for Manchester United, so we all have our own different qualities.
“Whether I am playing with Antony, Garnacho, Rashy [Rashford], whoever is playing on the wings or in the No. 10 position, we have to find each other and create. I love to play with all of them. I am just a lucky man.”
Ten Hag also added that Hojlund’s personality is what a striker needs to be successful, saying: “When strikers don’t score, that’s a problem but he has a strong character, he is so resilient, so determined, he has a big personality and that is what a striker needs. When you keep investing, the goals will come.”
There was a nice moment at the end of Hojlund’s post-match interview with Amazon Prime as he and Alejandro Garnacho were the last two players to head down the tunnel. The remaining fans in The Red Army section serenaded their goalscorers and the match-winner thanked them for their support.
“I am happy for that. We appreciate them a lot. They are behind us in every game,” Hojlund said. “We try to do our best every day on the training pitch and try to go further up the table every time.”