Manchester United need goals up front. And manager Louis Van Gaal, without being anything remotely reticent about the matter, has unabashedly admitted that his side are in need of a more reliable striker to lead the attack.
United's defence has been solid and is vastly improving after a stuttering start to the season, but it's business at the other end of the field which needs improving and strikers Radamel Falcao, Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney in particular haven't reached the heights expected of them this season.
"It is true because I cannot deny it, Robin van Persie cannot deny it, Falcao cannot deny it and Rooney is not playing there much any more, but we cannot deny that at this moment we don’t have a striker who scores 20 goals in the season," admitted the Dutchman.
Colombian superstar Radamel Falcao has massively under-performed this season since his expensive loan move from AS Monaco at the start of this season. The former Porto and Atletico man has scored just 4 goals in all competitions for the Red Devils which has coherently done little to justify his high wage bill.
Robin van Persie who single handedly led United's title surge back in the 2012-13 season, looks like a shadow of the player he once was as his inconsistency in front of goal has led the United fans to question his place in the starting XI of the team.
The Dutchman has only managed to score 10 goals in all competitions this season and had to leave the stadium on crutches after injuring himself towards the end of United's 2-1 league defeat at the hands of Swansea City at the Liberty Stadium last weekend. The former Arsenal man is expected to be out of a few weeks.
Captain Wayne Rooney is being used in midfield by Van Gaal and the England international has quite predictably fallen shy of goals.
"They could be having an unlucky year and I have to take that into account and I have to decide, with my staff, if it’s these aspects or other aspects that is causing this," added Van Gaal.
Van Gaal also went on to admit he needs to see more from British record signing Angel Di Maria who hasn't quite settled to life in Manchester since his £59.7m move from Real Madrid in the summer.
"He needs to go through the process and at the end he shall be much better," said Van Gaal. "I know that he is a very creative player and you can see this from the statistics."
"He needs that space and I give him that space, but he needs to do things with his brain and that is a learning process, not only with Di Maria but with all the players," he added.
But amid all disappointments and disillusionment, Van Gaal conceded that when you buy a player, he needs time to adapt and acclimatise himself to new surroundings.
"Every team has its philosophy, which is why some players are better with one club but not another," said the Dutchman. "When you buy players you need to give them time to adapt to the culture of England, to the rhythm of the Premier League, because that is a big difference to somewhere like Spain."
Van Gaal has been facing serious questions about his deployment of several players in roles different to what they are accustomed to, particularly Rooney and Di maria, and whether his philosophy risks damaging the players' actual thought process on the pitch.
"You have to ask the player that," he said unwavering. "I give a lot of space to all the players because in an attacking way they create more when they are free.
"But when you want to win as a team you have to defend also and he has to do that. It is not always the fault of the manager when a player is not performing well, I can tell you!"
The Red Devils face Sunderland at Old Trafford today in what will be the beginning of a 12 game season run in that would decide where they finish at the end of the season.
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