Nigeria’s Odion Ighalo has hit the net in each of his four starts for Manchester United, matching Jimmy Hanson’s record in 1925, and is hungry for more opportunities to show how he has evolved into a classic centre-forward.
Ahead of Saturday’s meeting with Bournemouth, he discussed the game with the club’s Review, the official matchday programme, as he hopes for a reunion with former Watford colleague Nathan Ake, who is the main man at the back for the Cherries.
Ighalo has five goals to his name in all competitions and it is surely only a matter of time before he hits the net in the Premier League for the Reds.
With his form and the fixture schedule also suggesting his first inclusion in a league line-up may not be far away, the 31-year-old appreciates he is able to complement our other forwards with his attributes and offer another option when it comes to leading the line.
“With strikers, we are being judged on goals,” he told United Review. “Sometimes, when you don’t score goals, you’re sad. As long as the team wins, that’s the most important thing but, as a striker, I would like to score in every game.
“That is what you are being judged on – goals, goals, goals.
“It’s the measure of a striker – how many goals you have scored. It is what people want to know about. That’s why we’re always eager to score goals and why, every time I’m on the pitch, I give my best to try to make sure I can create chances and score goals. But if I don’t score then, as long as we win the game, and my team-mates score, it’s okay for me.”
Ighalo has matured into an excellent centre-forward, whose hold-up play and harassing of defenders was evident in the recent Emirates FA Cup win at Norwich City when he was perhaps unfortunate not to win the Man-of-the-Match award. It was another chance for the loan signing from Shanghai Greenland Shenhua to display his qualities in that role, as part of a much-changed side.
“Anthony Martial is very skillful,” he explained. “He’s a direct striker. He likes to play with the ball at his feet. Rashy l[Marcus Rashford] likes to run in behind. I think I bring different things to the strikers we have. I can play with my back to goal, I can keep the ball. I’m strong so it’s different, you know, and for the different games, we play different patterns and with different strategies.
“So it’s good to have different types of strikers in order to accomplish what you want.
“I think I’ve gained more experience now and I push my game a little bit more than when I was at Watford. I think I’m even stronger now than I was then and have a bit more fighting ability to give, plus I have the experience to do what it takes on the field to score goals and to help the team. I feel I have improved from then to now.”
During that time with the Hornets, Odion worked closely with centre-back Ake, who was on loan from Chelsea at the time.
The Netherlands international will be hoping to help keep the Reds at bay on Saturday and arrest a slump in form for Eddie Howe’s men as they currently sit in the relegation zone.
“Bournemouth have a good squad,” Ighalo added. “Unfortunately, they’re not doing so well this season but they have good players. Callum Wilson is suspended but he’s a good striker too, he’s a striker who can disturb any defence from start to finish and he’s a good goalscorer. I know Nathan Ake, as I played with him during my days at Watford.
“He’s a good guy who was young but hard working. It’s going to be good as I’ve not seen him since I left the UK to go to play in China. This is a good opportunity to see him, he’s a good lad and I’m looking forward to that.
“Their squad is not bad but we’ve got to break teams like this down and we have to work hard, push hard and show our resilience, all of that.
“We know it’s going to be a tough game but I think we’re ready and we have what it takes to win.“