There were many reasons why Wout Weghorst was loaned from Burnley in January. The three key reasons were that Erik ten Hag knew everything about his compatriot, the market was limited and he would give absolutely anything to prove he was worthy of being a Manchester United player.
Weghorst is completely different from everyone else in United’s attacking arsenal. Unfortunately, his attributes are not always in line with the style of play that Ten Hag instilled before the World Cup. Against Real Betis, Weghorst, like his colleagues, showed a willingness to make up for the humiliation of a 7-0 defeat to Liverpool, and the Dutchman demanded a little more forgiveness for touching the ‘This is Anfield’ sign.
After much struggle, Weghorst got his reward with a six-yard rebound. Scott McTominay fired and Weghorst waited as Claudio Bravo pointed his hand at him. It meant everything to the Dutchman who dropped to his knees and was touched, being immediately surrounded by his teammates and finally finding a moment of solitude to absorb his first goal at Old Trafford. He is relatively surprised to be a United player and is doing his best to look like he deserves this chance. It was only his second goal in 15 games for United, a disappointing record, so doubling his tally was a great relief.
Effort and energy were present in the early stages, although confidence was clearly taken a hit. Weghorst led the attack to close the Betis defense at every opportunity, flanked by Marcus Rashford and Antony. When the English striker scored his 26th goal of the season and gave away his usual point with a header to celebrate his fortitude, many expected it to be the boost required to match their commitment with confidence.
But it was not a new dawn. The discipline that was evident under Ten Hag was lacking. David de Gea made a lot of unfortunate passes trying to find his teammates. The United goalkeeper has been reinvigorated under Ten Hag after being heavily scrutinized for his form in recent years, but scoring seven goals over the weekend has affected him and the rest of the United squad.
With Weghorst at the helm, United’s game is static as they don’t have the pace to threaten from behind. Instead, the ball is sent wide to produce crosses for him to attack. That’s when he’s in his element; he even jammed one cross from Fred into the chest, but it was ruled offside against the Brazilian. In general, crosses are not difficult to defend, especially when the action is so predictable. Another excellent opportunity to open an account at Old Trafford was wasted, a testament to his ineffectiveness in front of goal.
It took a moment of Antony’s brilliance for United to take the lead again as they struggled. Sometimes they fought to match Betis, but sometimes, at home and in Europe, that’s the way to win games. United cannot rely on beating teams twice a week all season. At the moment, they have the backbone of Lisandro Martínez, Casemiro and Weghorst for one reason: to get through difficult times.
Almost immediately before Bruno Fernandes headed United’s third goal, Weghorst was cautioned after an irritating exchange with the referee over a foul on Germán Pezzella. Weghorst was wrong, he knew it, and so did the clerk, but Ten Witch wouldn’t mind a little blast to collect the first warning. This enraged the fans and his teammates.