Manchester United ended their six-year trophy drought with victory over Newcastle United in the Carabao Cup final on Sunday, with Erik ten Hag‘s side running out 2-0 winners to continue their impressive resurgence under the former Ajax boss.
After the doom and gloom of last season – in which the campaign effectively ended following the defeat to Atletico Madrid in the Champions League in March – the Red Devils have been rejuvenated this time around, with supporters now likely to be dreaming of further silverware before the end of May.
While lifting the League Cup may have been lower down the priority list before the start of the campaign, this latest triumph signifies the rapid improvements which have been made under the new regime, with Ten Hag having managed to quickly instil a winning mentality in his side.
That feat has also been aided by the arrival of serial winner Casemiro – who scored the opening goal yesterday – and fellow summer signing Lisandro Martinez. As per Manchester Evening News journalist Samuel Luckhurst, the Argentine warrior was not been ‘remotely fazed‘ by the occasion at Wembley, , after putting in a dominant display at the heart of the defence.
That reliable duo have been obvious figureheads in the Old Trafford club’s rise in recent months, although there was a perhaps more unsung hero who also caught the eye on Sunday, with January signing Wout Weghorst proving his worth to the team.
How did Wout Weghorst play vs Newcastle?
The on-loan Burnley marksman has undoubtedly received his fair share of criticism since arriving at the Theatre of Dreams last month, having scored just one goal in 12 games to date, with journalist Josh Bunting suggesting that the 30-year-old is simply not “good enough at all” to be at the club.
Despite the Dutchman’s obvious shortcomings in front of goal – having spurned an early chance against the Magpies after firing a tame effort straight at Loris Karius – the towering marksman still offers plenty to Ten Hag’s side due to his “unselfish” play, as per broadcaster James Lewer, with that having been evident in yesterday’s win.
The 19-cap, Netherlands international was notably integral in setting up United’s second goal against Eddie Howe’s men after sliding in Marcus Rashford with a clever threaded pass, with the Englishman subsequently seeing his effort deflect in off the legs of Sven Botman.
Although that was Weghorst’s most obvious contribution in an attacking sense – along with seeing a stunning curled effort tipped over the bar by Karius – the former Besiktas man also played a neat first-time pass to Rashford in the opening exchanges, with the latter ultimately seeing his threaded ball turned behind for a corner.
It was the 6 foot 6 brute’s defensive qualities which particularly stood out, though, with the imposing asset winning seven duels in total on the day and making three tackles, while his overall Sofascore match rating of 7.6 was second only to Casemiro and Luke Shaw.
Such an impactful 70-minute display saw the versatile striker receive praise from the aforementioned Bunting, who stated that it was Weghorst’s “best performance in a Manchester United shirt” as he “worked so hard again” for his team.
While clearly a man who is relishing his time in Manchester so far – having been seen soaking up the celebrations post-match on Sunday – the one-time Wolfsburg star is not simply just happy to be at Old Trafford, with the striker likely to have one eye on securing a permanent place at the club moving forward.