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Ighalo’s no-show represents a sad end to Manchester United


The Nigerian forward was an unused replacement as the Red Devils knocked Watford out of the FA Cup

The fairy tale wasn’t meant to end like this.

Odion Ighalo’s arrival at Manchester United a year ago was the Nigerian international’s dream – literally – but things did not go as planned.

As his inevitable exit from Old Trafford draws closer and closer, the FA Cup encounter with Watford should have been the occasion of a final farewell to his childhood club – and potentially – English football.

After all, the Hornets were the club that gave him his first chance in the Premier League before encouraging him to leave for China – apparently against his will – at the end of his first stint in England.

Even though things haven’t quite gone as planned at Prem since the pandemic hit these shores, the forward has appeared online for a rare opportunity to make an impact from the bench after being named. among Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s substitutes on Sunday.

In the end, even that chance for a red final was denied him, as the Norwegian coach instead introduced Harry Maguire, Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and Nemanja Matic from the bench and left Ighalo unused.

West Africa were ultimately denied the possibility of a final farewell against the club they served for three years, and his FA Cup goal against Norwich City last season could remain his last contribution to the goal of the Red Devils.

As United progressed – thanks to Scott McTominay’s opening opener – Monday’s draw between them against Liverpool against fierce rivals Liverpool in the fourth round is not good news for Ighalo.

The match, which comes eight days before the striker’s loan deal ends, is expected to be a wary and hard-fought fight, with Ole unlikely to hand out any emotional cameos.

Ighalo appears destined to end his time at United on a low note and, ultimately, without the approval he would have hoped for.

Admittedly, his time at the club was disappointing.

He was never meant to have been United’s first choice, and he was also not the kind of glamorous signing to get the pulses beating, but as short-term fixes, especially with injury issues. from the club upon his arrival and the Red Devils competing on multiple fronts – his arrival made sense.

Odion Ighalo, Man Utd

Initially things were going well, with Ighalo spawning a lot of goodwill when he revealed – seemingly with striking authenticity – that United had been close to his heart from a young age.

Relieving pressure to the side as they competed on multiple fronts, Ighalo became the man of choice for cup competitions; he scored at will in the FA Cup and the Europa League.

He even tied a United record that lasted 95 years when he scored the goal against Norwich after action resumed after the coronavirus suspension, becoming the first player since Jimmy Hanson in 1925 to score in his four first competitive starts for the club.

It almost didn’t matter that he barely played in the Premier League and didn’t score when he did.

In the end, that effort against the Canaries was as good as ever for Ighalo at Old Trafford, with the Covid-19 suspension and United’s strong performances during Draft Restart not working in his favor.

Marcus Rashford returned from injury, offering more competition, then Mason Greenwood proved he can make a difference in the Premier League, United were knocked out of the FA Cup and the decision was made to play the Europa League after the conclusion of the Prem season.

Mason Greenwood, Man Utd vs RB Leipzig, Champions League 2020-21

Shortly after football returned in 2020, it was clear that the reasons Ighalo was brought to the Northwest were no longer reasons at all.

He was in the pecking order before Edinson Cavani was signed on a free transfer before the transfer window closed.

Here’s another veteran – older than Ighalo no less – with a bigger pedigree in the game; more success, more silverware and intended for more playing time at Old Trafford than his new teammate.

As Cavani began to make his mark, Ighalo’s playing time dried up; he’s only played four times so far this season and has only played once – as a last-minute substitute against Paris Saint-Germain – since the Carabao Cup win over Brighton & Hove Albion in September.

If he did not get any playing time in the third round of the FA Cup against lower league oppositions

Paul Pogba Edinson Cavani Bruno Fernandes Manchester United 2020-21

Cavani may have endured a difficult season in Ligue 1 in 2019-20, having only scored four goals, but he has scored 100 league goals alone in the previous four seasons and has already scored three goals on nine at Prem so far this season.

No one can blame Ighalo for leaping at the opportunity to extend his loan stint at United until early 2021, given that he was denied the chance to make a real impact last season due to Covid .

However, as his time at the club comes to an end and another chance to leave a mark passes, the forward must surely reflect on the wasted six months of his career spent on the bench at United.

The Red Devils may also reflect on the money poorly spent, with the aging striker arriving for an initial £ 6million and a big chunk of his £ 300,000 weekly salary.

This is a disappointing conclusion to Ighalo’s time at Old Trafford, because while things didn’t start out particularly well, he overcame the initial skepticism with his goals and attitude, and arguably deserved more. opportunities to build on his encouraging goals / minutes ratio from last season.