Erik ten Hag urges young winger Facundo Pellistri to seize his unexpected first-team opportunity at Man United… as the Dutchman insists the club is ‘not a place you can be patient for ten games’
- Facundo Pellistri has had opportunities in the first team in recent weeks
- The 21-year-old Uruguayan made his first Man United start against Real Betis on Thursday
- Erik ten Hag insisted that Pellistri must take advantage of every opportunity he gets
Two twists of fate have given young Uruguayan World Cup star Facundo Pellistri an unexpected chance to impress at Old Trafford, and no-nonsense manager Erik ten Hag has urged him to seize it quickly.
Winger Pellistri was due to join Watford on loan in January, but United needed assurances on the availability of Jadon Sancho following his mid-season absence before they would approve it. Closed.
Still at United, Pellistri then took advantage of Alejandro Garnacho’s ankle injury against Southampton last weekend to make his first start for the club in the Europa League on Thursday.
Pellistri impressed and could now get more run-outs from today in the FA Cup against Fulham.
Ten Hag believes that at a club the size of United, young talents can’t hang around to impress.
Facundo Pellistri has had opportunities in the first team at Man United in recent weeks
Erik ten Hag urged the 21-year-old Uruguayan to take every chance he gets
‘Of course he can make it, but you have to earn it. You have to collect it yourself,” Ten Hag explained of Pellistri’s prospects.
‘We’ll help him. The way of playing, the culture, will help him. The coaches work hard with him, but in the end the players have to take their chances. They have to earn their chances by performing every day, on and off the pitch.
“Manchester United is not the place where we can have the patience to try for ten games. No, you have to perform.’
Paul Scholes says Pellistri’s direct style in taking on his full-back and trying to get crosses in could be beneficial to United’s attacking play, with Antony often preferring to kick in from the right flank on his left foot to cut.
“He (Pellistri) has the capabilities to do it at United, as do others who come from the youth, like Garnacho, like Kobbie Mainoo. Pellistri is one of them. So there are more who can do it, but you have to contribute to the team.’
United have been cup specialists this season and are unbeaten in their last 18 games in the Europa League, FA Cup or Carabao Cup, winning against NewCastle at Wembley.
The club have only won the FA Cup once since 2004 and will miss midfielder Casemiro who begins a four match domestic suspension.
It leaves the team looking for other leaders, but ten Hag admits he was impressed with captain Harry Maguire becoming a more vocal presence at the club and on the pitch.
“I am very happy with the progress Harry is making at the moment,” said ten Hag, who only used the English defender when Raphael Varane needed a rest.
“He is more dominant and dictates, shows more initiative in the training room and we saw that against Betis.
“In the game he showed leadership, especially in terms of initiative and dictation of the game.”
Pellistri impressed with his direct style and made his first start against Real Betis on Thursday
Ten Hag also praised club captain Harry Maguire’s leadership qualities on and off the field
Striker Anthony Martial was able to return to action for the first time in six weeks after resuming training after a hip injury.
The Frenchman could be among a group of players, including Scott McTominay and Maguire, who will leave United in the summer, but ten Hag remains confident in the Frenchman.
“Every time he is available, he makes a really good contribution to the team performance, the level of the team,” said the manager.
“He’s training right now, he’s available, we’re just working with him to get fit.”
Martial has played just 14 games this season with his injury record questioned.