Three players, Rashford, Højlund, and Garnacho, are leading the revival of Manchester United. They can be considered a powerful trio according to Jonathan Wilson.

Three players, Rashford, Højlund, and Garnacho, are leading the revival of Manchester United. They can be considered a powerful trio according to Jonathan Wilson.


These are unusual circumstances at Old Trafford. The Premier League has officially approved Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s 25% investment in Manchester United. The team has achieved victory in their last four matches across all competitions and has not suffered a loss so far this year. Their young and dynamic forward line shows promise, although it is still uncertain if they can maintain control and avoid any potential setbacks. Is this a sign of improvement for United?

Of course, everything is relative. It seems that every detail comes with a warning; everything is open to various interpretations. Despite being in sixth place in the Premier League, Manchester United have a four-point lead over Newcastle in seventh and are among the top five teams likely to qualify for next season’s Champions League (although it is not guaranteed). They currently trail Aston Villa by eight points for fourth place, but their deficit would have been greater if Scott McTominay had not scored a goal in the 86th minute against Villa last Sunday. Two weeks ago, they gave up three goals in the final 20 minutes against Wolves, but they were able to secure a 4-3 victory.

It cannot be stated definitively that a significant shift has occurred. Manchester United’s goal difference is currently 0, which is lower than eight other teams going into this weekend. It is valid to question if the current situation is not reminiscent of last season, when a string of close victories, often secured in the final moments, may have presented an overly optimistic view of United’s performance. Arsenal’s dominant win against West Ham puts United’s 3-0 home victory over them the previous week into context. Even Newport County proved to be a challenge for them in the FA Cup.

Let’s not make any definite conclusions. However, it is true that United has scored 17 goals in their six games across all competitions this year, and Rasmus Højlund has scored in his last five matches. After the disappointing 2-0 loss at the London Stadium just before Christmas, which was one of the most uninspired and lackluster performances from a supposedly top-tier club in English football history, there has been a significant transformation – even though it has resulted in vulnerability in defense. A similar situation occurred in the Champions League this season, as United’s carefree and extravagant style seemed like a completely different team compared to the worn-out and tense demeanor they showed over the weekend, resembling a dull husband who lets loose on business trips.

It is possible that as the season ends, this time frame may seem like a deceptive hope, a stretch of satisfactory outcomes where United’s weaknesses were still glaringly apparent. However, it could also be viewed as the turning point, when Erik ten Hag’s team displayed determination and courage to overcome their flaws and start achieving victories; the emotional influence of the Ratcliffe takeover preceding the challenging task of rebuilding the club.

Alejandro Garnacho is capable of moments of brilliance, like his overhead kick at Goodison Park in November.

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But whatever is to come in the next three months, what is true is a side that seemed to lose its way at the first sign of strife has found, at least temporarily, a new resilience. They may be doing silly things and leaking needless goals in games they seem to be controlling, but they are, at the moment, finding ways to overcome that.

If this is indeed a time of potential rebirth, the attacking line may bring the most promise. Marcus Rashford, the oldest of the trio at 26, has had his struggles this season but his quality should not be questioned. 19-year-old Alejandro Garnacho, while displaying moments of brilliance, is still unpredictable – a natural trait for someone his age. However, he has shown the ability to play on the right side, although he prefers to come from the left, which allows Rashford to play on his preferred flank. Meanwhile, Højlund, who initially seemed overwhelmed by the pressure, has begun taking chances with the composure of a confident forward. His goal against West Ham, where he created space at the edge of the box and drilled the ball into the bottom corner, showed a ruthless efficiency. In addition, his calm sidefooted volley against Aston Villa displayed a sharpness in the six-yard box.

Maybe he was fortunate, but if he truly aimed for the space between Emi Martínez’s legs – which seems plausible from that distance – it was a skillful finish of a natural goal-scorer. If he possesses both qualities in his playing style, he could be a formidable striker. A conversion rate of 19% is outstanding (11% is average) and implies that his low goal count earlier in the season was not entirely his fault, but rather the quality of passes he was receiving.

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The connection between the Danish striker and his teammates Rashford and Garnacho appears to be crucial. In seven games this season, Manchester United has utilized a front three consisting of Garnacho, Højlund, and Rashford from right to left, resulting in seven victories. It should be noted that although they did play together in the 4-3 loss against Copenhagen in the Champions League, Rashford started on the right while Garnacho was on the left. Furthermore, Rashford was given a red card after 42 minutes with United leading 2-0.

The total age of the three individuals is 66. Each of them has had inconsistent careers thus far. However, when they play together, there is a sense of mutual improvement. Ten Hag must figure out a way to bring back stability while still allowing for their attacking prowess – Rashford and Garnacho have faced criticism for neglecting their defensive responsibilities. There are still many potential pitfalls, and nothing is certain. But with Ratcliffe’s arrival, a new chapter begins, and new beginnings often bring new hope.

It appears that the current attacking lineup at United was not originally part of their plan, otherwise they would not have spent £160m on Antony and Jadon Sancho. However, it is the lineup they currently have and it seems to be successful at the moment. It has been some time since anything at Old Trafford has been considered successful.