With just ten days of the transfer window remaining, the dearth of top quality out-and-out strikers at Manchester United could have major implications on their ability to compete for the Premier League title this season.
The transfer window has seen English clubs do some exciting business this summer, bringing in players from all around Europe. Amidst the buying and selling, the Premier League finds itself saturated with no.10s, but who are they going to play the through ball to? Due to the dearth of world-class no.9s in the market, none of the big boys in the Premier league have been able to catch hold of a prolific, top marksman.
For Manchester United, they have brought in a goalkeeper, full-back, central midfielder, winger.
No strikers bought.
Robin van Persie and Radamel Falcao, two great strikers who struggled last season have been sold, but surprisingly, haven’t been replaced. This means the onus is now on skipper Wayne Rooney’s shoulders to lead the line. Manchester United fans might argue that Rooney can play as a lone striker, especially with the creative genius of Juan Mata and Bastian Schweinsteiger to support him. But a full season on his own upfront? I’m not sure he’d enjoy that.
Van Gaal insists that both Adnan Januzaj and Memphis Depay will be seen drifting into central positions on many occasions during the course of the season. But are they instinctive, natural strikers? In fact, both would prefer playing wide on the wings, with the ball played to their feet, allowing them to dribble and run at full-backs.
Considering that the top four of last season are the likeliest to get their hands on the trophy this season, it does not take much analysis to conclude that Manchester United have the least – and more importantly – the weakest striking options.
Chelsea have at their disposal a fiery Diego Costa, Falcao (who isn’t at at his best but isn’t bad either) and Loic Remy. Manchester City have the best striker in the league in Sergio Aguero and the noisy neighbours have also added Swansea’s Wilfred Bony to their ranks last summer. Arsenal possess the strength of Giroud (a very underrated player) and the pace of Danny Welbeck who can stretch the game. As for Manchester United, there are no established names apart from Wayne Rooney, who is better off playing a second striker, and Javier Hernandez, who would actually have to spend some time convincing his manager to see him as a realistic option.
Truth be told, Van Gaal’s squad this term looks good enough to make it to the top four. I am sure though, only a top four finish is not what Manchester United are looking at, and if that is the case, they need more firepower.
They have made the perfect start to the season with six points out of a possible six, without playing particularly good football. One might argue that they’ve ridden their luck in both games, especially against Aston Villa.
Van Gaal chose to start with Mata on the right wing and Januzaj in the hole behind Rooney at Villa Park. As the game progressed, he switched them to their natural positions, which is what lef to the Manchester Unieted goal. Rooney, the main man, was quite anonymous in both games.
Barcelona forward Pedro, who has only been sitting on the bench watching the lethal Mess-Suarez-Neymar trio paralyze defences last season, had been linked to Manchester United since the end of last season, but has now completed a move to Chelsea. United needed someone who could guarantee an 8/10 performance on a regular basis playing through the centre, a target man. .
Pedro is clearly not that. But he wouldn’t have been a bad signing for the Red Devils even though he hasn’t played much as a centre forward in the past. Spanish players over the years have found it relatively easy to settle in the Premier League. The reason being they are technically superior to others in the fast and furious English league.
It therefore made all the sense in the world for United to sign Pedro, who at 28, would rather join a club undergoing a transition, than compromising on game time at Barcelona.
With the big Champions League qualifier second-leg not far away and league games coming thick and fast, for how long can Manchester United resist signing a striker? The remaining days of the transfer window will be very interesting indeed.