Football

Manchester United still need another striker to qualify for Europe

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Despite attentions being distracted briefly by Chelsea's poaching of Manchester United target Pedro, the talk needs to return to an issue that has just over 10 days to resolve itself - the club needs another goalscorer. 

When Van Gaal said this summer that Rooney would play as a lone striker, it came as rather a surprise, and it's been on every football discussion show's agenda since. "Can Rooney do the job by himself?"

Striker material

Can Wayne Rooney play as a lone striker? Yes. Should he play as a lone striker? No.

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He's still gifted with one of the best footballing brains in the country, and he's versatile too, and with 230 United goals to his name, only Sir Bobby Charlton and Dennis Law have had their name on the score sheet more times than him. There's no doubt he's a club legend. 

Although some journalists are saying 'the wow factor has gone' altogether, the 29-year-old has never technically had a 'bad' season, even judging him against his 'wonderkid' years when he first arrived in Manchester.

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He can play up front by himself, we know that. He scored over 50 goals in total for the two seasons that he has - which were also his most productive at the club by far. But he needs support up there, either beside or in front of him.

He can't do it alone all season. Although he was churning out tons of goals in those campaigns, United didn't win the league. In fact those two seasons were the only ones where they weren't crowned champions between 2007 and 2013.

No 10

The case for Rooney playing in the hole - or just behind another striker - is strong. Going back to what I was saying before about the seasons he's played as a lone striker, I'll reiterate the fact that for the ones either side of those that he's played as a No. 10, United have won the league. 

The club's captain is a better provider than goalscorer in my opinion. He's produced 94 assists in his Premier League career. Only Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard and Ryan Giggs better him on that front. 

Former England winger Chris Waddle has added to the debate that the forward should play in that position, also stressing that they need to invest more in that department.

He said: "United are lacking a presence, someone up front who can control the game and score goals. They need a poacher in the box.

"Rooney doesn't seem to have somebody he can play with and that is why they need to buy a top-class number nine for him to play behind."

Cup runneth over

Manchester United will have have a minimum of eight extra fixtures outside of the Premier League this season, and unless they have a particularly poor campaign all round, it's more likely to be around 15. 

Rooney will need someone there to support and replace him. There may be times that the team will have to play four or five games over a 10 day period. It'd ask too much of him, and would heavily affect the club's title challenge in the league.

In fact, if he was to play a lone striker for the entire season, without another forward waiting in the wings, I'd say that United would struggle to challenge for a top four spot. 

Overall, yes, the United captain is an excellent striker. He can score and provide. History, along with experts, collectively suggest he'd be better providing. He'll still score goals, but ultimately it's his creativity and vision that the club need to utilise. To put it simply, they need to get their wallets out again in order to see a trophy-bearing season at Old Trafford. 

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Topics:
Football
Wayne Rooney
Premier League
Manchester United

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