Having secured a top four finish in Louis van Gaal’s first season at the helm following the disastrous 2013/14 campaign under David Moyes, Manchester United must now look towards mounting a serious title challenge in the 2015/16 season alongside an expected return to the UEFA Champions League.
Here, I offer five reasons why the Red Devils would greatly benefit from acquiring a world class striker of the calibre of a Luis Suarez, Robert Lewandowski or Gonzalo Higuain.
Ambition of the club
Upon accepting the manager’s position at Manchester United, Louis van Gaal was tasked with bringing back the Premier League title to Old Trafford within three years. The club is used to winning major honours or at the very least, challenging for them, so the fact that United have failed to win a major trophy since the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson two years ago is undoubtedly a concern.
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Van Gaal himself has claimed that he currently doesn’t have a striker who can score 20 goals in a season, and you’ll do well to find any successful team anywhere in the world down the years who hasn’t had one of these. A top class centre forward is sure to be near the top of the Dutchman’s summer shopping list.
It’s almost guaranteed that Radamel Falcao will leave Old Trafford at the end of his loan spell following a poor season which has seen the Colombian - a striker who has scored bags of goals all over Europe for the likes of Porto and Atletico Madrid - manage just four goals in 27 appearances. This simply isn’t good enough.
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However, there is more uncertainty with regards to Robin van Persie because the forward has proved he can score goals in abundance over the past couple of seasons, but has recently found it more difficult and endured an injury-hit campaign, leading to some believe that the 31-year-old Dutchman is past his best.
There’s also the added question mark as to whether or not Javier Hernandez has a future at the club, having struggled to make a sustained impact whilst on loan at Real Madrid and never being able to hold down a starting place at United.
Midfield future for Rooney
Despite playing as a striker for his entire professional career, and with a huge amount of success it’s worth adding, many United fans have viewed Wayne Rooney as the ideal man to replace the legendary Paul Scholes in the centre of midfield due to Rooney’s high work rate, range of passing and quality on the ball. This may seem preposterous to some, but at 29 years of age, the Manchester United and England captain may view a midfield role as an effective way of prolonging his career into his late thirties.
Van Gaal hasn’t hesitated to play Rooney in central midfield when Michael Carrick gets injured, not because he wants to, but because he trusts his captain to do a good job in that position. What’s more, Rooney has spent large spells of his career playing just off the front line to accommodate another striker and the fact that he’s the first player in history to score ten or more goals in 11 consecutive Premier League seasons suggests that his influence on matches is high irrespective of where he is on the pitch.
Another reason why Manchester United should invest in a top quality striker is that, despite breaking into the senior team over the past few months and delivering some excellent performances for the Under 21 side as they won the U21 Premier League, there is a possibility that Van Gaal may allow 19 year-old striker James Wilson to leave the club on loan in order to continue his growth as a footballer and to experience more regular first team action.
Also, Van Gaal has admitted that he has considered converting Belgian playmaker Adnan Januzaj into a centre forward because he is currently unsure of his best position. Even if this did happen, it is very unlikely that Januzaj would quickly transform into the goal machine that United arguably require.
If you look at the recent history of Premier League champions, they have all had one thing in common, a top quality striker to fire them to glory. Chelsea paid £32million for Diego Costa, and he repaid that with 19 Premier League goals in a season where the west London club cruised to the title. Before that, Manchester City won the league in 2013-14, with Sergio Aguero netting 17 times (adding to 16 goals from Edin Dzeko and 20 from Yaya Toure).
Even the season prior to that, Robin van Persie hit 26 goals as United themselves were crowned champions. With their main rivals already having world class forwards such as Costa and Aguero, in addition to individual talents like Eden Hazard, David Silva and Arsenal’s Alexis Sanchez, United must quickly follow suit if they wish to close the gap between themselves and the teams that are currently slightly ahead of them.
Who do you think United should sign? Comment below with your answer!