Rasmus Hojlund is already giving Manchester United what they wanted – George Smith

Though he has failed to get off the mark in each of his first two outings for the club, it would have been very different had it not been for a VAR call. The Danish international thought he had marked his full debut for United with a goal in Saturday&aposs 3-1 defeat to Brighton & Hove Albion at Old Trafford, only for VAR to rule that Marcus Rashford had carried the ball out of play in the build-up.

It meant the 20-year-old, snapped up from Atalanta last month for an initial fee of 64million, was denied his breakthrough moment. Nonetheless, his first Old Trafford outing, despite all of the ongoing unrest and concern at the club, was one filled with positivity.

Surprisingly deployed in a traditional front-two alongside Rashford, Hojlund, who netted ten goals for Atalanta last season, led the line well, proving mobile and combative up until his withdrawal in the 64th minute. He was replaced by Anthony Martial, prompting a chorus of boos from the natives.

Those who booed were unimpressed by manager Erik ten Hag&aposs decision to take the youngster off. Ten Hag, however, admitted after the game that it was a pre-planned move to manage Hojlund&aposs ongoing recovery from injury.

He arrived at Old Trafford last month nursing a stress fracture in his back, which delayed his United debut. He has not completed a full 90 minutes since Denmark beat Northern Ireland 1-0 in June, and even then he was substituted in added time.

It is clear, therefore, that United want to manage Hojlund&aposs load carefully, a plan that the Danish national team have also subscribed to; he was a second-half substitute in each of the Dane&aposs two internationals earlier this month. He will only get stronger as he builds up his minutes.

Though he is yet to complete a full 90 minutes in United colours, appearing as a second-half substitute against Arsenal just over a fortnight ago and then being taken off just past the hour-mark against Brighton, he, with a little bit more luck, could have impacted both games significantly. As well as seeing his goal against the Seagulls chalked off by VAR, Hojlund played a key role in the move that led to Alejandro Garnacho&aposs late effort being controversially disallowed at the Emirates Stadium.

He played a neat back-heel into Casemiro&aposs path, enabling him to send Garnacho clear. Had Garnacho delayed his run by a split second, Hojlund&aposs debut would have featured a key pass at a defining moment in a huge fixture.

Still, though he is yet to register a direct goal contribution for United, his first two outings have offered the fans plenty of insight into what he will bring to the table: excellent movement, physicality, pace, a genuine goal threat and a very likeable personality. His celebration for the goal that wasn&apost against Brighton was filled with passion and determination, two traits that Ten Hag has often looked for in all his signings.

His passion and drive to succeed has been earmarked by several former coaches of Hojlund&aposs, one of whom recently said that he understands the importance of hard work. That has been apparent in his first two United outings, and it is why the club&aposs supporters are warming to him quickly.

He also gained support and admiration for his address to the Denmark fans after their 1-0 win over Finland just over a week ago, where he delivered a rousing megaphone speech to the travelling contingent. His mentality and hunger for success shone through, and the speech was quickly admired by those back in Manchester.

Of course, Hojlund, ultimately, will be judged on his record in front of goal, just like every other striker. However, United&aposs supporters are likely to show a degree of patience towards him because of his first impressions and his age. It will take time for him to get up to speed.

Manchester United are back in the Champions League after an impressive first season in charge for Erik ten Hag.

Having won the famous trophy three times, the Reds have a wonderful history in the European Cup. Now the Dutchman has to live up to that legacy.

Our special preview of Uniteds 2023/24 Champions League campaign provides the ultimate guide to the tournament.

It costs just 3 and is on sale for advance order* on the online shop NOW and in retail outlets from September 17. Just click here to order your copy today.

*Delivery from 13th September onwards