When Manchester United front man Wayne Rooney picked up a knee injury during their loss at Sunderland, things appeared to go from bad to worse for the Reds.
United’s squad is already riddled with injuries, missing top players such as, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Marcos Rojo, Marouane Fellaini and several others.
Louis van Gaal's side are facing one of their worst Premier League campaigns in recent years and now without their top scorer for the next six weeks, many wonder how the club will fare in the upcoming fixtures as the club are still fighting in three competitions.
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Despite the initial reaction of alarm to Rooney’s injury, having to work around the striker’s absence may be exactly what the Red Devils need to move forward. The side are at risk of becoming too dependent on the captain’s abilities, which may prove an issue for the club in years to come.
And with rumours of a potential move to the Chinese Super League this summer, it only makes sense that a functioning squad is built in his absence to prepare for a possible departure.
At 30-years-old, Rooney has passed his prime and his abilities will only continue to dwindle the longer time goes on. As upsetting as it may be for dedicated fans of the club, it might just be time for the legend to step down and allow his successor to develop and make their own mark – namely Anthony Martial.
Martial has featured a lot more heavily than most initially expected upon his arrival to the club, but he has been playing in a squad built around the English striker, hindering his ability to really demonstrate his class.
With Rooney’s absence, it is likely Martial will be more consistently be played at a central striking role, allowing him to act as the main man for the Red Devils.
However, this will not be an overnight transition for the club. The French striker is still just 20-years-old and it will take time for him to find form and allow the team to build around him.
If United expect to reach the same heights they achieved only a few years ago, fans will have to be patient, accept the current season as an opportunity to reconstruct and abandon hopes of qualifying for the Champions League via the Europa League.
Martial was given the first opportunity to play as the lone striker for the full 90 minutes during their clash with Danish champions, Midtjylland.
The Frenchman failed to find the back of the net during the surprising 2-1 defeat, further indication that Van Gaal needs to focus more on building a team that will be able to perform next season; whether that be through allowing the academy players to develop, making strategic acquisitions in the next transfer window, or preferably, a combination of both.
Do you think Anthony Martial has what it takes to replace Rooney as the top goal poacher? Tell us what you think in the comments below...