Share this @internewscast.com
As Manchester United looked to drag themselves through the final few minutes at Burnley, desperate to see out a 1-0 win, their fans behind the goal they were attacking in the Barnfield Construction Stand at Turf Moor made their feelings quite clear as to who they wanted to see.
‘Viva Garnacho’ was the chant ringing through the away end for a couple of minutes as they urged Erik ten Hag to send on the exciting young Argentine.
Alas, Ten Hag stood firm, leaving the teenager on the bench as he made two defensive substitutions instead. It was another signal that minutes won’t be handed out merely as gestures of goodwill.
While much is expected of Garnacho and his talent is undeniable, Ten Hag’s message since Tottenham, where Garnacho was taken off after 66 minutes and has had just 12 minutes of action since, is talent alone will get you nowhere.
Alejandro Garnacho has found his minutes limited since coming off away against Tottenham
Since that loss he has been handed just 12 minutes, including five against Brighton (pictured)
‘I thought our team was playing very well,’ Ten Hag said, ‘so I wouldn’t change that tonight because this game was a demand to keep that organisation. That’s why I wouldn’t change.’
Garnacho has started just two games so far this season: the opening weekend win over Wolves and the subsequent 2-0 defeat against Tottenham.
Perhaps sensibly the teenager has steered clear of the discourse around his minutes on Twitter. The same cannot be said for his younger brother, Roberto.
When it became clear the winger was not going to be summoned from the bench against Burnley Garnacho’s brother tweeted a laughing emoji, appearing to be a reference to the non-sub, before it was quickly deleted.
His brother has gone back and forth with fans numerous times in recent months, often eager to stress that his messaging comes from a place of love and he simply wants to see his brother play. But the frustration is continuous – and doesn’t appear to be something Alejandro is in any rush to shut down.
‘A 5-10 minutes player I guess,’ one tweet reads.
‘He can not save every game with 5 mins bro,’ another added.
Garnacho should get more than five to 10 minutes against Crystal Palace tonight in the Carabao Cup. Realistically, he should start and it’s an opportunity he needs to seize.
Sources have indicated that Garnacho has worked hard on the training ground and has responded well in sessions the day after a game. He is champing at the bit.
Marcus Rashford, even before he crashed his £700,000 Rolls Royce outside Carrington following the Burnley game, was likely to be rested and Garnacho is his main competition down that left side. Opportunity knocks for Garnacho.
Add in too that with no return appearing imminent for Jadon Sancho or Antony, there’s a vacant spot wide on the right that, while it was occupied by Bruno Fernandes at Burnley, is there to be taken for the longer term.
Garnacho’s younger brother struggles to bite his tongue on social media when he doesn’t play
The teen has all the attributes but Erik ten Hag is refusing to compromise collective principles
Impress against Palace – and he has all the talent to do just that – Garnacho can showcase to Ten Hag the growing maturity, growing tactical discipline and willingness to go back towards his own goal as much towards the opposition’s that he needs to cement himself back into the starting XI.
Ten Hag is demanding of all of his players but it feels he is working particularly hard on Garnacho, eager to make him earn every scrap of playing time he gets.
The teenager, who is now preparing to become a father, was one of the brightest lights from the 2022-23 campaign and it is crucial that neither Ten Hag or Garnacho allows for there to be a backward step taken a season on.
When Garnacho inked his new deal in April, running until 2028, Ten Hag spelled it out to both the player and all of his extended family that, if anything, the hard work starts now.
‘He is improving and he has improved a lot,’ Ten Hag told Garnacho’s family, who descended to Carrington en masse that day. ‘That is why we are now here and he deserves this, a new contract. It is deserved by his performance and he has fought his way into the team.
‘It was a huge step and he did magnificently. Now, I hope and I think this new contract is an inspiration and a motivation to do even better.’
Ten Hag wasn’t finished, adding: ‘This club needs players who can do incredible things. It is not only about “we want to win”. Also, we want to win in a certain way. But winning is the most important and then we want to win in a certain way, because we are playing in the Theatre of Dreams.
‘And then this club has to win trophies and you want to win trophies, because in the end a contract is great but in the end of a career you want to collect trophies. You want to look back and say “I won the Premier League, I won the Champions League, I was at the World Cup”.
‘I think he has the talent to do it but talent has to work, because talent that does not work will not go far. This is the start, a new start, a signed contract, and tomorrow new roles, new aims and go.’
Even in June, Ten Hag almost repeated himself, partly in an effort to drill home the improvements Garnacho needs to make for the collective.
‘He learned in the last months how to play in the team and how to live and do the right things in the week, and how to have the right attitude on the training ground,’ Ten Hag said.
Garnacho (middle row, second from left) is likely to get an opportunity against Crystal Palace
Sources have indicted how Garnacho has impressed coaching staff with his training work
‘You can see how he is acting as a team player, but his individual skills can make the difference.
‘Also, for him, it’s to keep going in the process, it’s not done [as a finished article] as there is a lot to come and a lot more room for improvement for him, but he can help contribute on the highest level.’
Garnacho was dropped in one of Ten Hag’s first moves as United boss in the 2022 pre-season tour of Thailand and Australia for being late, failing to feature in any of the four games.
That hard knocks approach paid off with a breakthrough season and Garnacho must now park any lingering disappointment from recent weeks to return to his best form.
Here is a player that became United’s youngest non-English scorer in Europe at 18 years and 125 days, beating George Best’s record by 33 days. His talent is not in question. Garnacho has all the attributes to be United’s superstar across the next decade-plus.
But opportunities need to be taken and that will likely start tonight against Crystal Palace. Opportunity knocks… now it’s on him to seize it.