Manchester United struck four goals past Newport County to overcome a scare in Sunday’s victory in the FA Cup fourth round. However, a familiar problem persisted at Rodney Parade, which left Rasmus Hojlund furious with his team-mates and Mason Greenwood potentially settled on his future.
It was typical of United’s struggles this season that Erik ten Hag’s side made such hard work out of a tie against League Two opposition.
Bruno Fernandes and Kobbie Mainoo’s early strikes fired the visitors into a 2-0 lead after 13 minutes. However, by the 47th minute, it was somehow 2-2 and finely poised.
Antony restored United’s advantage on 68 minutes before Hojlund scored his eighth goal of the campaign in stoppage time and let out a celebration that screamed relief.
Hojlund hadn’t taken a single shot before his opportunity finally arose in the dying embers. He was frustrated in South Wales as Antony cut inside and aimed off target while Alejandro Garnacho similarly went for glory.
However, the issue is nothing new. Hojlund has suffered from a lack of service all season, with Ten Hag’s wingers programmed to shoot rather than pass or cross.
In fact, of the 20-year-old’s eight goals for United, only three of them have been assisted by a team-mate.
Marcus Rashford found him with a cutback in the 4-3 defeat at Bayern Munich in September. He was the provider again with a pinpoint cross for the first of Hojlund’s brace against Galatasaray in October.
And Scott McTominay squared the ball for the Denmark international on his return to FC Copenhagen in November, during which he netted another brace.
Greenwood is reportedly keen to remain in Spain beyond the summer, having settled in Madrid with his family. He is the subject of interest from Atletico Madrid and Barcelona, among others.
It’s unlikely that any striker watching how United’s attack operates and starves the frontman of service would be keen to join the club. It will be no different to Greenwood.
That said, the Red Devils seem to have already made their decision on their former No. 11’s future. They are expected to cash in on his interest this summer.
Hojlund’s lack of service is a problem Ten Hag must fix, though. He could do that in the transfer market at the end of the season amid strong links to Crystal Palace winger Michael Olise.
However, Greenwood could share United’s stance in that his future is best placed away from Old Trafford.