Manchester United fans were quietly optimistic heading into the 2020-21 campaign after the team impressed during last season’s post-lockdown period.
But all that optimism has now disappeared following a string of disappointing performances and results in recent weeks.
Opening the campaign with a 3-1 defeat at home to Crystal Palace, who thoroughly deserved their victory, was the worst possible start for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and his players.
That was followed up by a routine win over Luton Town in the EFL Cup before a hugely fortuitous 3-2 victory over Brighton & Hove Albion in the league.
United beat the same team again three days later in the EFL Cup before the utterly humiliating 6-1 defeat against Tottenham at Old Trafford on October 4.
This was unquestionably one of the very worst performances of the post-Sir Alex Ferguson era – and there are obviously plenty to choose from.
The Red Devils took the lead through Bruno Fernandes but found themselves 2-1 down after seven minutes and 4-1 down by half-time.
United’s task was made all the harder when Anthony Martial was sent off midway through the first half for violent conduct.
The French striker foolishly reacted after being provoked by Erik Lamela and was subsequently shown a straight red card by referee Anthony Taylor.
Martial scored a career-best 23 goals in 48 appearances last season but is yet to find the net in three games this term.
And United legend Paul Scholes says he now feels “almost conned” for momentarily believing Martial was an actual centre-forward.
“These forwards are exceptionally talented lads. We all know that,” the newly-appointed caretaker manager of Salford City FC told Stadium Astro, per Goal.
“The problem with United’s forwards is that none of them is an actual centre-forward.
“Martial almost conned us into thinking he was one at the end of last season because he scored so many goals and was quite good.
“He’s started this season quite poorly again, which makes you think he isn’t. It’s misleading. That’s why I’ve kept saying we need a top-class No. 9.”
Just two months ago, Scholes stated his belief that Martial *had* developed into the No. 9 that United needed.
“He’s turned himself into a No.9 with every game I watch, more and more, so it’s great to see,” the legendary midfielder said on BT Sport, per the Manchester Evening News, in August.
“He’s turned himself into a proper No.9. When he’s square on to a player and runs at them, I think he’s unstoppable.”
Let’s see how United fans have reacted to Scholes changing his tune so suddenly…
In fairness to Scholes, Martial has blown hot and cold far too often throughout his five years at Old Trafford.
You never quite know where you’re going to get from the 24-year-old. One week he can be brilliant, and the next abysmal.
United need a reliable centre-forward and Scholes is well within his rights to question the club’s current No. 9.
In Scholes’s ideal world, which player would be leading the line for United?
“I think Haaland is sensational,” he added, per Goal. “I think he’ll be up there with your Ronaldo’s and Messi’s levels possibly from what I’ve seen so far.
“That’s why I just never felt [Jadon] Sancho was the right type of player because we’ve got three of that type of player already.
“To spend £100m or whatever, I didn’t think it was right. I wasn’t that disappointed.
“Look, he’s a brilliant player and he’ll probably improve any team but I just didn’t think there was the need for him this year.”
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