Erik ten Hag has admitted he had not intended to play Wout Weghorst in the number 10 role when he signed him on loan in January.
The 6ft 6in striker started life at Old Trafford in the traditional centre forward position, but has been shifted back into the hole in United’s last two matches to great effect.
To everyone’s surprise, Weghorst played in the number 10 for the whole 90 minutes against Barcelona in the first leg of the Europa League knockout tie, with Marcus Rashford at centre forward and Bruno Fernandes wide right.
Asked by club media whether this was a role he had had in mind for Weghorst, Ten Hag replied:
“Actually, no. The last years he was actually only playing as a striker, but I know from a very long history he can play there. He did before.
“In a certain role, I think he can act very well there and we have seen that. In Leeds, he did it for a part of the game and yesterday [against Barcelona] he did it for over 90 minutes.
“I think it was quite successful, not only for him but I think he enjoyed it there. He had an impact on the game, but for the team it was really important his role.
“I think he let others play better and that’s also what he’s doing as a striker. He lets other team-mates score.”
With Marcus Rashford in a rich vein of goalscoring form, the move has made a lot of sense and has proven to be an innovative masterstroke from the United manager.
Weghorst is likely to drop back to the bench once Anthony Martial regains fitness, something which Ten Hag has said could be just around the corner.
When asked about the potential availability of players who were injured for the Leicester game, Ten Hag said “Maybe. We have to wait until tomorrow [Sunday]. Maybe one or two players can return, yeah.”
Whatever the case, the Dutchman’s physical presence in either of those forward positions is a handful for any defence and it is very likely that Ten Hag will use him heavily between now and the end of the season.
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