Redknapp praises Alejandro Garnacho, Ten Hag calls for not to lose focus during the WC break

Ajax coach Erik ten Hag
Ajax coach Erik ten Hag | Photo Credit: IMAGO

Manchester United manager Erik Ten Hag has warned teenage sensation Alejandro Garnacho about the ‘danger’ of losing focus during the World Cup break after the 18-year-old’s latest heroics in the win over Fulham.

The Argentine teenager came off the bench on Sunday to score his first Premier League goal at Craven Cottage and give Manchester United the win against a spirited Fulham side. 

Ten Hag has been trying to keep the 18-year-old grounded amidst his breakthrough season for the Old Trafford side, and wants to make sure he is still in the right shape physically and mentally when the season resumes next month.

The former Ajax coach has asked Garnacho to continue working hard while his teammates are at the World Cup. the youngster will train at Carrington and go on a warm-weather training trip to Cadiz with the rest of the players who aren’t on duty in Qatar.

“This shows what talent can do, but it is still a long way to go,” Ten Hag said after the game on Sunday. 

“He has to keep his feet on the ground. He has to do much more investment. Big players know that, young players don’t know.

“Now it’s a four-week break. That’s already a danger for him, because he now has momentum.

“Let’s see how he’s coming back. We have to manage that with him. His attitude is good and I’m certain he will have an impact.

“The danger is four weeks, no games, lose focus, less investment. It’s only when he stays on the same attitude that he’s working the last three, four or five weeks. The process will keep going and his progress will keep going. If not, it goes the other way around.”

The manager also praised Garnacho’s impact in recent weeks and admitted he could never have foreseen his faith in the 18-year-old paying off so handsomely.

“Alejandro had a big impact in the win,” the Dutchman added. 

“The spotlight is on that and that is also justified because it was a great finish because that is what you expect from subs coming in.

“I am really happy with his progress. We have an extra player in the squad and I’m happy for the academy.

“But also I want to emphasise the way we scored that goal all the way from the back to the front. I think it was a massive, brilliant assist from Christian Eriksen.

“We’re going in the right direction, and I think we have a base. The culture has changed. The attitude has changed, and that’s good. We have also improved. We have got a better mentality, and you saw that today with the winner at the last minute.”

Meanwhile, former Liverpool midfielder Jamie Redknapp also hailed Alejandro Garnacho’s performance in the win over Fulham.

Speaking after the game Redknapp noted the completeness of the youngster’s game: “He’s got so much talent of either foot. He travels so well, right foot, left foot. He looks like he’s got the full package.”

Redknapp also pointed out that the 18-year-old’s attitude, which was called into question in the summer, should not be viewed as a detriment to his performances on the pitch.

“All the best players have the rascal gene. You don’t want a team of Gary Neville’s. The greats have that little bit of devilment about them. Look at Wayne Rooney. 

“All of those talks around a player are a part of it. The main way to talk is on the field and I think that’s what he’s doing. He’s focusing on how he can improve and how he can improve the team. 

“Of course, at this age, you can look at Rooney at the start of his career. He was not polished, but he had this fire and everyone respected that. And I think this kid can do the same.”

Garnacho’s goal against Fulham comes just days after he dazzled fans with a spectacular performance in United’s EFL Cup win over Aston Villa. Appearing as a second-half substitute and contributing two assists as Erik ten Hag’s team came from behind to progress in the competition.