Erik ten Hag was delighted Manchester United striker Wout Weghorst was able to show his worth by scoring his first goal for the club in the Carabao Cup semi-final first-leg win at Nottingham Forest.
Ten Hag has already been pleased with his fellow Dutchman’s contribution since he arrived on loan from Burnley earlier this month.
However, for all the unseen work Weghorst has done creating opportunities for others, he knows the 30-year-old will take more satisfaction from scoring himself in the 3-0 victory on Wednesday.
Weghorst showed a real striker’s instinct to pounce on the loose ball after Wayne Hennessey had saved Antony’s shot just before half-time.
“It’s important for him and for his confidence that he scored that goal,” said Ten Hag.
“He did a great job at Crystal Palace and Arsenal with his pressing, targets and movements.
“He was part of Bruno’s [Fernandes’] goal at Palace because he makes the right movement to the front post. He was part of [Marcus) Rashford’s] goal at Arsenal because he dragged the centre-half away.
“But strikers are there to score goals and when they don’t score they’re not happy.”
On that basis, Rashford must be delirious.
The England man took his post-World Cup tally to 10 in as many games with a sensational opener.
Rashford picked up possession in his own half before sprinting into the Forest box and beating Hennessey with a fierce left-footed effort that drew comparisons with Ryan Giggs’ memorable effort in the 1999 FA Cup semi-final replay.
Ten Hag agrees that there are few more in-form players in the country at the moment.
“I am happy with Marcus’s performance and his development,” said Ten Hag.
“From the start of the season he is growing. What we have to aim for with him, and he is responsible for that, is to keep this process going.
“If he is in this mood, with this spirit he is unstoppable.”
Cooper keen to learn from defeat
Forest boss Steve Cooper was particularly unhappy with Fernandes’ third in the final minute.
While he accepted a two-goal deficit would have been tough to overturn at Old Trafford in the second-leg next week, coming back from three down is virtually impossible.
Nevertheless, he still feels there are positives to take from a “disappointing and frustrating” night.
“The road to success is about dealing with disappointments,” he said.
“Disappointments are not something you encourage or want but they can be good for you and we have to approach it in that way.
“We don’t want to be soft or fluffy about it but don’t want to be narrow-minded either and think we can’t learn from it.
“We are building something here. We are not at the end. I am still pleased the supporters got the chance to walk into the ground and think their team is in a semi-final.”