Manchester United defeated EFL Championship table-toppers Burnley 2-0 in the Carabao Cup fourth round last night, making an assured return to action following the conclusion of the World Cup.
While the Clarets offered chances of their own, the defence held firm, the cohesion stayed intact and Red Devils boss Erik ten Hag managed to secure a clean sheet alongside a place in the fifth round.
Christian Eriksen and Marcus Rashford stole the headlines with two great goals, while the likes of Bruno Fernandes and Aaron Wan-Bissaka produced exemplary all-round displays from their respective roles in the team.
One player that Ten Hag will be disappointed to have not grasped the opportunity to impress is Alejandro Garnacho, who performed a meek display and failed to build on the impressive breakthrough to the United first-team.
Indeed, he has scored two goals and registered two assists across his first 11 professional appearances, including a resounding Premier League winner in the dying embers against Fulham in the conclusive fixture before the domestic season paused for the international tournament in Qatar.
However, Burnley’s resolute defensive line and Garnacho’s inability to grow into the game resulted in a poor showing, where the Argentine largely played on the periphery of the action.
As per Sofascore, the 18-year-old put in a match rating of 6.4 – the lowest of any United player – and was withdrawn after 59 minutes having failed to get a grip on proceedings.
The winger did complete 16 of his 18 attempted passes (89%) and managed to unleash a shot on target, although he should have done better with the strike and was recorded to have missed one big chance.
However, his 23 touches were the fewest of any starting Red Devils’ player, with Rashford on the opposing flank making 42 touches and indeed scoring a fine goal.
Goalkeeper Martin Dubravka even managed to play the ball over double the amount of the academy graduate, who still holds “huge potential”, as remarked by compatriot Javier Mascherano.
Having failed with his one attempted long ball and winning only one of his two attempted duels, Ten Hag will demand a performance pumped with more energy the next time he takes to the pitch.
Garnacho’s stunning start to life under the lights at the Theatre of Dreams will undoubtedly cast any concerns over his subpar performances out of the window, but it is a reminder to Ten Hag that despite his brimming talent, the teenage sensation is not yet the finished article, and his progress must be carefully handled accordingly.