Squatting, Wout Weghorst looked at the elated supporters of Manchester United next to a goal at Wembley with a musing look after the final whistle. He consciously chose to let the atmosphere of his first prize take effect as a professional. The atmosphere after the victory over Newcastle United (2-0) wanted to imprint the striker in his memory. What others thought of it didn’t interest him one bit.
Dream come true
“I can walk very tough and cool, but for me this is a boyhood dream come true,” he said an hour and a half later in the catacombs of England’s national stadium. “Afterwards you have to give yourself a minute to take it all in. Otherwise it will pass you by before you know it. And you should enjoy it. That’s why I took a moment. And that was the best moment of the evening.”
Weghorst did not score, but played a strong game. With Marcus Rashford’s second goal, a shot that ended up in the goal via Sven Botman’s leg, he provided the assist. Just before the break, he almost found the net himself. After an inward felling movement, the Tukker aimed for the top left corner. Keeper Loris Karius tapped the ball over the crossbar with a nice gliding dive. In retrospect, he shrugged at the missed opportunity.
,,I am not very fortunate in the finishing”, said the 19-time international. After twelve appearances for the Red Devils since his arrival in January from Besiktas, the counter is at one. ,,Karius made a great save. In the past I scored a lot of goals, but I didn’t win anything. Now it’s the other way around. Fewer goals but silverware? Then I immediately take the second option.”
Weghorst was twice in the final battle of the KNVB Cup with AZ. In 2017 and 2018, he fell short against Vitesse (2-0) and Feyenoord (3-0) respectively. “This was the third time. Now it works. That makes it extra special. You work so hard to get your hands on something tangible. For me, winning the Carabao Cup therefore has a personal touch. It feels great to finally win a prize.”
Weghorst subbed off
When the game at Wembley came to hold the lead halfway through the second half, Weghorst went aside. Together with Fred, Marcus Rashford, Antony and Diogo Dalot – also substituted – he followed the performances in his uniform along the sidelines. Once the referee blew off, Ten Hag gave them all a personal message. ,,I have no idea what he whispered to us”, Weghorst confessed. “I was already in a trance.”
The lip readers in the stands could see the coach say ‘enjoy it’, something Weghorst took to heart without hearing this. Ten Hag, who entered the press room with the trophy, let go of the reins for a while. “He lives to win. Every day. He’s so detailed about how we play. Every match again. Ten Hag pays a lot of attention to where our possibilities lie. A great trainer with a lot of quality.”
The selection also received individual assignments. Weghorst had to keep the field ‘long’. “And collapse to create space behind Newcastle United’s defence. With our speed on the flanks we could be dangerous there. I also had to put pressure on their six.” He was referring to Bruno Guimarães, the Brazilian midfielder for the defense. ,,Because they like to move the game to the other side, I had to win the ball. I had four or five interceptions.”
While Weghorst talked quietly, Jadon Sancho walked by with a portable speaker, howling with laughter. Alex Ferguson previously joked with the journalists downstairs. The relief radiated from everyone at Manchester United. After six years without titles, the club is back in action. And the trophy cabinet can be further expanded this season. The club competes for the national championship, the FA Cup and the Europa League. West Ham United will visit on Wednesday evening in the eighth finals of the FA Cup, in the Europa League Real Betis is the next opponent after the great elimination of FC Barcelona last week.
First of many?
,,You see and feel the eagerness within the group”, Weghorst said. ,,Of course the trainer puts the tension on first. We live to win. To notice that in the locker room is special to me. The first prize is in. Three more to go. We have everything in our own hands. But first we should take a moment to reflect on what we have achieved.” Weghorst, alone, breathlessly gazing at the mass of partying people, set the right example. Free bets on Man United winning more trophies are worth a gamble.