Manchester United are taking the term ‘win by any means necessary’ all too literally at the moment, with nobody embodying that chaotic approach better than Alejandro Garnacho right now.
On an emotionally charged evening at Old Trafford where the Red Devils played for the first time following the death of the legendary Sir Bobby Charlton, fans packed into the Theatre of Dreams finally hoping their side would kick into gear and make light work of FC Copenhagen.
As if their perilous status in the Champions League group stages wasn’t enough, the added emotions – and the chance for Rasmus Hojlund to get one over his little brother – was surely enough fuel to see United put the Danish visitors to the sword.
Erik ten Hag’s side relied on a few moments of magic to see off the Danes and get their first win of the group stages, those moments being a big, f*ck-off header from Harry Maguire who lept like a salmon to continue an unlikely career renaissance, and a full-stretch penalty save with the last kick of the game from Andre Onana.
While United fans are likely still wrapped up in the euphoria that comes with watching Maguire rise from the cold – somewhat literally – and dunking on his marker like a man possessed, and desperately hoping Onana’s spectacular stop is the first of many, we’re forgetting about an unsung hero.
And if they’ve any chance of getting something out of the upcoming Manchester derby – gulp – then they better hope Garnacho’s use of the dark arts isn’t just a one-time thing. Because they were brilliant.
On a night where United for some reason needed a miracle, and got two, Garnacho was brought on from the bench to – in short – sort their sh*t out in front of goal, but even he seemed plagued by a poor touch and general United-itis that is ravaging the squad right now.
He made a crucial contribution in his own box, though, which highlighted the most important part in his development journey in the last few months – being a sh*thouse.
As United players desperately squabbled with the referee in injury time to try and convince him that Scott McTominay didn’t just try and roundhouse kick Mohamed Elyounoussi, Garnacho slyly peeled off the back of the pack, headed towards the penalty spot and got to work with an assist just as good as Christian Eriksen’s for Maguire.
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We just love a winger who’s not afraid to dig his heels in and get some chalk on his boots.
Garnacho has just redefined what that means in the greatest way possible, and the fact young Jordan Larsson saw his penalty saved moments later suggests that his scuffing of the spot worked a treat.
Forget all the rubbish about delivering tactical instructions and affecting the game as a starter rather than a substitute – this is the greatest marker of the Argentina international’s development since he broke into the team.
Not only does he commit to scuffing the spot, the boy scuffs it good. Gets his feet well in there and gives it the sort of attention to detail that goalkeepers give to penalty-takers. An artist at work.
Timed to perfection as well, with everybody bickering ahead of him and nobody there to catch him in the act. That’s a man made for the dark arts.
United will need much more than Garnacho scuffing the penalty spot against their noisy neighbours, but that sh*thouse mentality shows the boy is on the right lines to combine his freakish ability with the attributes that separate the weak from the strong.
Breaking ankles, scoring worldies and psyching out penalty takers, one scuff at a time. Brilliant work.
By Mitch Wilks