“This is a very big example. They way they play now will actually win them the league and its all because of one Man who cane back from injury. They may fight for the title and a trophy because of him”-Manchester United are doing what Rasmus Hojlund said they would after win vs West Ham.

Wreaths were placed on the Old Trafford pitch in memory of the victims of the Munich air disaster ahead of the 66th anniversary. The latest batch of captivating Manchester United fledglings are starting to spread their wings.Rasmus Hojlund only spoke of his hope he and his fellow rookies “can set an era for the club and be here many years together” on Thursday night. Here three of them were, sat together, posing in victory.

Alejandro Garnacho mimicked West Ham winger Mohammed Kudus’s signature celebration by sitting on the advertising hoarding and facing the pitch. He was joined by Hojlund and Kobbie Mainoo. United fans will hope to be watching and talking about their generation for several years.

United-bred duo Garnacho and Mainoo are still in their teens but Hojlund turned 21 today. His goal on Boxing Day feels like a coming of age and he now has four in his past four Premier League starts.

Mainoo, substituted for the first time since December, earned a standing ovation and compliments from Luke Shaw and Marcus Rashford on his way to the touchline. Erik ten Hag offered a congratulatory pat on the head.

Garnacho gained a chant days after his United debut as a 17-year-old on the night of the FA Youth Cup triumph in 2022. As the frontman, Hojlund deserves a backing band and the Stockport-born Mainoo can expect to enter United’s tome of a songbook soon.The youth were underpinned by the veterans. Casemiro’s urgent press made Hojlund’s goal possible and, bar one major lapse, Harry Maguire was commanding on his return to the starting XI for the first time in nearly eight weeks.Maguire relinquished the captain’s armband six months ago but is still an authoritative figure. The applause for one interception had barely subsided and he was ushering Lisandro Martinez further forward, acknowledging his superior distribution in the middle third.

When Maguire erred and let Jarrod Bowen in, Diogo Dalot rushed across to hurl his body in the way of the ball, a goal-saving block that brought United fans to their feet. The ball was still live when Maguire thanked him. Dalot has firmly cemented his status as starting right-back and, not for the first time, it has coincided with Aaron Wan-Bissaka going AWOL.United fans’ chants of ‘Argentina’ began at the Boleyn Ground in support of David Beckham back in August 1998 and one of the loudest renditions came in response to Martinez’s tangle with Vladimir Coufal. Martinez’s enforced withdrawal was the only negative. Ten Hag admitted it was a “personal disaster”.West Ham’s superior status to United in the Premier League table always felt temporary. United are above them again and now sixth. A sterner test awaits next week at Villa Park in this pivotal month.After squandering two-goal leads at Newport and Wolverhampton, there was an elusive third goal that ensured a rare day devoid of drama. United went 3-0 up for only the third time this term. The last time it happened in a home league fixture was last May.Ten Hag and one of his predecessors, David Moyes, carried the wreaths when both teams emerged from the tunnel. A besuited Moyes, with the Manchester coat of arms stitched onto his blazer, visited the Manchesterplatz site in Munich when he was United manager in 2014. Supporters present appreciated that.

In West Ham colours, Moyes looked understandably disappointed by their profligacy in the first half and it continued early into the second. Emerson Palmieri seized on Maguire’s hesitancy and looked to pass when he had to shoot. He only threatened those in the Scoreboard End. A minute later, Garnacho wriggled out of Palmieri’s pocket and scored.There were high fives and hugs all round for Hojlund, as well as a chest bump from Maguire to mark his 23rd-minute opener. Hojlund has now broken double figures for United goals and his 10th was his most singular. The Dane has scored some great goals and his potential to be a great goalscorer is more apparent with every game.Hojlund had the confidence to deceive the West Ham defenders and switch the ball to his weaker right foot. He wellied the ball in as though it was his strongest. Whilst players joined the throng, Ten Hag had stuffed his hands back into his pockets. He is nearing vindication with the £72million striker.

Steve Holland, Gareth Southgate’s assistant, was in the directors’ box and nattering with the United football director John Murtough before kick-off. Five England internationals started across both sides but the one Holland had to have cast his eye over carefully was Mainoo. The 18-year-old drew applause in the 21st minute for a smart shimmy that deceived Kudus before setting Garnacho on his way.

Another England midfielder, Kalvin Phillips, was promptly dropped by Moyes after a chastening debut against Bournemouth in midweek. Phillips’s substitute status did not spare the former Leeds and Manchester City midfielder from the Stretford End giving him grief during an early warm-up. Phillips was a good enough sport to engage in the repartee. Then he was robbed of the ball for Garnacho’s second goal.Phillips was still seated when Garnacho, Hojlund and Mainoo sat down.

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