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Saturday, January 28, 2023

20-year-old’s reset and a need for a fresh start at Manchester United

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Anthony Elanga is one of Manchester United’s three available ‘senior’ forwards available for the friendly with Cadiz.

Along with Anthony Martial and Alejandro Garnacho, these are the only three attacking players on tour who have started a first team game.

But unlike Martial and Garnacho, who both found the back of the net in November, Elanga has to go a long way back for his last Manchester United goal.

Elanga last scored for United in February away at Atletico Madrid. This momentous goal was one he could not follow up on.

While he did net for Sweden in an international match in June, it has been a barren few months for the young forward.

Photo by Ash Donelon/Manchester United via Getty Images

Anthony Elanga’s reset

Elanga has not had many chances for United this season. He came close to scoring when he hit the post in the win over Liverpool.

But nor has Alejandro Garnacho, who has scored two goals in 293 minutes of game time.

Elanga has played 479 minutes of first team football this season and failed to score.

It is almost one year to the day since Elanga got his first start of the 2021/22 season, in Manchester United’s draw with Young Boys.

While he didn’t find the net on this night, he did enough to show Ralf Rangnick he should be a regular in his team.

Right now Manchester United need more from Elanga than just work rate. He needs to produce in the final third.

This mid-season break could be what he needs to mentally and physically reset, and embrace the role, temporarily, of being one of the most senior forwards in the side.

United fans may be more excited to see what youngsters like Charlie McNeill and Joe Hugill can contribute in these circumstances, but Elanga can still have plenty to offer. He needs to show it.

Elanga is still only 20, playing for one of the world’s top clubs and his country. He needs support, but he also needs to demonstrate he can thrive under the pressure.

He has returned to training with a new haircut and new look, symbolising that this is a fresh start for him. It would be great to see him step up and seize his chance.

Dan is still wondering what would have happened if United had kept Juan Veron…

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