United set a new club record: the last five goals were scored by players who were not on the bench.
Manchester United have been renowned for their uncompromising stance over the years, and reserve players have played a key role in bringing late winners to the team.
After the departure of Sir Alex Ferguson, this has not always been the case: titles are drying up, and late dramas in matches are becoming rarer and rarer.
But under new manager Eric ten Hage, that may change in part because of the strong bench currently at his disposal and the manager’s ability to attract the right staff when needed.
Subs have an impact
United’s last five goals in all competitions have been scored by reserves. According to The Opta Analyst on Twitter, this is a new club record.
In the match against Manchester City, Anthony Martial entered the field and scored twice in the final stage of the tournament, while all three goals against Omonia Nicosia were scored by Marcus Rashford and Martial, both coming on as substitutes in the second half.
Ten Hag immediately mentioned their strike after the match. “All the substitutions have had a really good impact,” he admitted Thursday night. “This is what I expect from the players on the bench. Every submarine has to be ready, and tonight is the best example you can get.”
According to them, since the foundation of the Premier League, the previous mark of four goals was set by one person – Ole Gunnar Sulscher.
Sulscher famously scored four goals after United’s incredible 8-1 win over Nottingham Forest in February 1999.
ETH can demand quality when needed
Among the famous United players who change the rules of the game from the bench is their former manager and another fan favorite, Javier Hernandez.
Sulscher scored 29 goals after 120 goals in the era of Sir Alex Ferguson, and Chicharito scored 17 goals for the Reds.
Rashford is gradually catching up with the Norwegian, because now he has 20 goals from the bench, and Martial has 15 goals in 75 substitute matches.
When Sulscher was boss, he was constantly criticized for United’s lack of quality options from the bench. Quite often, the Norwegian had to refrain from substitutions due to a low-quality offer.
But with Ten Hage, United can call up different players depending on the situation at the match. The Red Devils now have players who can single-handedly change the outcome of a match, or stars who can come and help finish the game when necessary.
The Dutch boss can call on record scorer Cristiano Ronaldo and the likes of the red-hot Martial when needed. As for the solidity of the midfield, he has Casemiro and Fred on the bench.
Not to mention Ten Haga’s youthful capabilities when it comes to cup competitions. Most likely, he will give minutes to the extremely talented Alejandro Garnacho and the hungry Donny van de Beek.
Ten Hag has often talked about the need to have a strong team, and given the hectic October before the World Cup, the reserves will still play a crucial role.