With Louis van Gaal sending out James Wilson on loan to Brighton & Hove Albion for the rest of the season, Manchester United are now only left with two strikers: Anthony Martial and Wayne Rooney.
One of those strikers, Martial, is only 19-years-old, and it would be unreasonable to weigh the French international down with the burden of leading this yo-yo-like team to success this season.
It’s unfair to expect a teenager to reach those type of heights consistently considering Martial only moved to England on September 1st and now has the hard task of adapting to a new language.
In saying that, he has impressed beyond what anyone expected so far, but the lad is only 19, we can’t expect too much.
Comparing Martial to Rooney is interesting – it would seem that the number 9 is what Rooney was in his teenage years: powerful, energetic, enthusiastic and has a keen eye for goal.
It’s a shame that those qualities are escaping Rooney these days, but for a player that’s been at the top since he was 16, it’s not totally surprising. In truth, the Manchester United captain isn’t clinical – or good enough – to lead the line and score between 20-30 goals a season anymore.
United used to boast a whole roster of incredible attacking outlets ready to do a job for them if they were called upon.
Take 1999 for example, the treble winning season, the Red Devils had Dwight Yorke, Andy Cole, Ole Gunnar Solskjær and Teddy Sheringham waiting for their chance to impress.
In that season, Yorke scored 29 goals, Cole 24, Solskjær – with arguably the most important of all – 18, and Sheringham 5. Why that mini roster of four worked so well was that they all rotated and were used in specific moments of games to work to the club’s advantage.
When you take a look at Sir Alex Ferguson’s last season in charge, he possessed four strikers as well, and ultimately, won the Premier League. Robin van Persie, Wayne Rooney, Javier Hernández and Danny Welbeck were the four, and obviously not as good as their counterparts in 1999, but they all interchanged and were pivotal in winning yet another Premier League title.
With the sales of Robin van Persie, Javier Hernández and Danny Welbeck – and not taking the option of buying Radamel Falcao – United were left with limited options up front.
We know that LvG prefers a tight-knit squad, but having only two strikers left: a teenager and the other completely bereft of form, is a dangerous tactic to play.
United offensively this season have been disappointing; there’s been little impetus and vigour when in the opposition’s half.
The Red Devils have already recorded eight 0-0 draws under the Dutch boss, comparing that with Sir Alex Ferguson, who didn’t record a single 0-0 draw in the last 116 games in charge is damning.
There is a clear argument to say that’s because of the wealth of attacking options Ferguson had.
The January window is fast approaching and United should delve into the transfer market in search of a striker. There’s been talk of Jamie Vardy, but with Leicester’s reluctance to sell unless it’s for an absurd figure, it’ll be an incredibly tricky purchase to secure.
So far, under van Gaal, Manchester United’s biggest achievement has been reclaiming their Champions League spot. The ruthless manager has 18 months left on his current contract and will want to deliver some silverware for the fans.
There’s not a better time to win the Premier League with Manchester City and Arsenal stuttering domestically. If United can tie up a striker in January that will consistently add to the goals, in addition to their rock solid defence, Louis van Gaal could well be delivering the Premier League back to Manchester come May.
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