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What’s So Special About Huntelaar and Do We Need Him?

Since selling Ruud van Nistelrooy in 2006, we have failed to bring in an out and out striker to replace him. Coupled with Louis Saha’s injuries, United have found themselves playing a different style of football to what they’d played for years, particularly when Ruud had been in the team.

Basically, our wingers bombed down to the corner flag, crossed in to the box, and Ruud put the ball in to the back of the net. Other than holding the ball up at times, he contributed little to our all around attack, but excelled in positioning himself perfectly to score when the ball found him.

For the last two seasons, our forward players were given the freedom to the attack the box more equally. There was no longer the pressure to find Ruud, with the likes of Rooney, Tevez, Ronaldo and Nani being able to share the scoring responsibilities.

Whilst United have faced the criticism of being a ‘one man team’ following Ronaldo’s phenomenal season, it is interesting to point out that because we no longer had an out and out goal scorer, the goals were spread out far more evenly.

At the end of 2006, Ruud finished our top scorer with 21 league goals (24 in total), after him came Rooney with 16 (19 in total), then came Ronaldo with 9 (12 in total), followed by Saha with 7. We had 3 players featuring within the 19 highest scorers in the league.

At the end of the 2008 season, Ronaldo finished our top scorer with 31 league goals (42 in total), after him came Tevez with 14 (19 in total), then Rooney with 12 (18 in total), followed by Saha with 5. We had 3 players featuring within the 11 highest scorers in the league.

However, whilst I’m happy with the greater freedom our attacking players enjoy, I can’t help but feel we need an out an out striker.

Whilst not trying to sound ungrateful of the brilliant season we have just enjoyed, our performances in several games could have seen the year end very differently indeed. There were too many games in which we totally dominated, but dropped points because we couldn’t convert our chances. Reading at home, City away, West Ham away and Blackburn away are the most obvious examples of this.

Now, of course I know United can’t win every game, and there are going to be games where it just doesn’t work out the way we believe it could and should. But with the league becoming more competitive every season, we are going to have less and less room to manoeuvre in. Chelsea were a long way off their best last season, yet took the title to the last day of the season. We need to improve next season to ensure the title stays in its rightful home and the most obvious way to do this is to bring in a prolific striker.

Klaas-Jan Huntelaar is a player we have been linked to for years, and now that interest is apparently becoming more concrete.

“I love clubs with great history like Ajax, I also love United,” Huntelaar said. “It’s a club that makes me dream, especially as Ruud van Nistelrooy played there and did great things with them. I know certain English clubs are following me, like Manchester United, who are very interested in me.”

Here is a player who, if he can make the transition from the Dutch league to the English league, could light the Premiership up. We wouldn’t necessarily need to change the football we play either, using Huntelaar as impact substitute to begin with. Playing him from the start would mean dropping Tevez or Rooney, which on occasion would be fine. Rotating our three main strikers could see improved performances due to fiercer competition and fresher legs.

For his goalscoring stats, click here.

His scoring record is out of this World, with him enjoying several seasons where he’s almost scoring a goal a game. He’ll turn 25-years-old this summer, which makes it rather make or break for him. If he’s going to come to England, he needs to do it now. We want to sign him, he ‘loves’ us, so do we want him to be the one signing Fergie makes before the start of the new season?


About Scott

Scott is the editor of Red Matters - 50 Years of Supporting Manchester United and an author of Play Like Fergie's Boys and Not Nineteen Forever. He writes for ESPN, The Metro and Bleacher Report. Follow @R_o_M on Twitter.

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33 Comments

  1. jsos says:

    totally right. he is the one thing we’re missing.. and i reckon this could be the “one signing” fergie is talking about. would LOVE to have him. i see him fitting right in with the lads

  2. Messiah says:

    4 mins 20 seconds in, phwooaarr!! I wouldn’t be against him joining us, he’s spent his time at Ajax and like Sneijder last season, he just needs to leave to further his career, they both spent alot of time in Holland developing one has left and the other needs to too.

  3. PeeJay says:

    He’s begging it.

    He’s basically nudging Alex Ferguson and saying “hey, buy me!”.

    I think that Huntelaar could easily be Solskjaer’s heir and if he’s content with being a Super Sub or little more then I think we should invest.

    His scoring rate is amazing yes, but let’s not forget that he scores all his goals in the Eredivisie. Not all players make the transition, like, for example, Alfonso “7 in 1″ Alves who, apart from a brace against us, didn’t really do much last year.

    I think he would disrupt our play and think that we need a player similar
    to Berbatov or Torres to partner Rooney. The Beckham/Giggs cross Cole/Ruud header days are gone. A supersub?Someone to come of the bench to poach a goal when times are bad? Yes. A fox in the box who needs the team to play a certain way which go against the principle of having speedy players? No.

    If he wants to come for £15mil and is happy to play 20 games a year, then go for it. If we are paying £30mil for a primadonna who insists on being a first-team regular then we can keep our money in our wallets for the time being.

  4. PeeJay says:

    And anyway, we have my compatriot Petrucci, Manucho and Saha. We don’t need this guy, that video doesn’t impress me. It’s everything he’s done in five years or so.

  5. Phoenixred says:

    How can anyone says we don’t need Huntelaar cus we have Petrucci, Manucho and Saha? Where’s the sense in that, so in your words you’re saying we should base our out and out striker on:
    Petrucci: An unproven 17yr who can’t probably handle a jump into United’s first 11

    Manucho: An unproven striker who has an unjury right now

    Saha: An even worse injury record who cannot be depended on cus we don’t know when he’ll break something
    Huntelaar is unproven too, but out of all the above players, he’s less of a risk…saying we don’t need huntelaar and then stating your reason of not needing him is because we have those three is just really stupid.

  6. OTRed says:

    So a video of Huntelaar’s goals doesn’t impress you, but a few youtube vids of Petrucci and a few goals nontheless good from Manucho and an injury prone striker is enough to impress you and make you think we don’t need him.

  7. Geir says:

    With “The man made of glass” Saha in our squad, we sure do need Huntelaar. I’d love to see him wearing our red shirt :-)

  8. Kaka83 says:

    Sorry, disagree about the whole Ruud being the reason why we played crap football. This is the same Ruud that was the spearhead of a Dutch team that played wonderful football until they succumbed to Russia.

    Ruud isn’t a Saha or Henry but he wasn’t the fault of our dour football. A world class player playing in front of a crap midfield consisting of O’Shea, Flecther, a frustrating Ronaldo and an ageing Keane doesn’t deserve that sort of blame. I still believe Ruud would be amazing in this team.

    Go watch the season dvd of 02/03 when the whole team played magnificently, not just Ruud and you’ll see what he brought to the team. So sign up Huntelaar I say

  9. Scott the Red says:

    Kaka83 – who said anything about Ruud being the reason why we played crap football? We won the league with Ruud!

    I simply said with Ruud, our attacking options were more limited. Our attacks had to revolve around him otherwise there was no point him being on the field.

    Since he’s left, there isn’t one player with all that responsibility, it is more shared. We can look at the masses of goals Ronaldo scored, but how many of them came from him waiting in the box for someone to pass it to him?

  10. Anant says:

    correct me if im wrong but i’ve heard this guy lacks pace

  11. Jak says:

    According to this morning’s papers, Arsenal is looking too, so if we’re going to make a move, for God’s sake, Fergie, do it soon.

  12. PeeJay says:

    Yes, he does lack pace. He’s nowhere near the type of player that we need. Manucho isn’t injury prone, he’s injured. Don’t get it twisted. Saha is injury prone, yes. But both Manucho and Saha are better considering our type of play. They fit in better. Manucho especially, I don’t know how good he is, but he’s got an excellent header and he’s fast/muscly, quite similar to Adebayor in type of play and that’s the type of player we need. I was joking about Petrucci.

    Simply put, Huntelaar can’t play in our starting 11. He wouldn’t fit in with players like Rooney, Ronaldo, Hargreaves [tactically]. Unlike Manucho and Saha.

    And I didn’t say don’t buy him, I said don’t buy him if you’re gonna pay over the odds for a player that shouldn’t play week in, week out. If he’s happy to be the new Solskjaer then buy him.

  13. tevra says:

    Huntelaar would easily fit into a united first team line up. He’s clinical infront of goal and an out & out striker, something we currently lack. He would also add another potent attacking option to our team. If we had Huntelaar, i would bet my house that a winger would not get 42 goals. Manucho is still pretty unproven at european level where as Huntelaar plays in a league which has produced some of the worlds finest players. I would love the lad to where the Utd crest.

  14. jack says:

    hahaha i love 3:50-4:15 in that video :D some guy punches him in the stomach, so he goes and mocks him when they score, reminds me of RVN against andora i think lol

  15. Alex says:

    We need to get him this summer…or if not him, someone like him who has a nose for goal, and can turn draws into wins. Obviously, it would have been nice to have someone like him during those games Scott was talking about (Reading home, Hotspur away, Blackburn away gets a very special mention), because next season, I don’t think we’re going to get away so easily with the title if we keep leaving those games drawn.

    After all, Liverpool got Torres, and he’s helped them out (except against us, thankfully), so it’s about time we got a world class striker of our own, so that Fergie can have yet another option for scoring more goals. :D

  16. Gary says:

    I dont think we are in for Huntelaar and I dont think he would fit into United’s style of play. Hes too similar too Ruud and as good as Ruud was United have been better of without him. When Ruud played our whole game was based around him and since hes left our play has been more fluid and we share the goals around the team rather then playing to a target man. People seem to forget that in the 5 seasons that Ruud was with us we only won the 1 title on 2003. I would be very suprised if Huntelaar joined United but none the less if he did he would get my full support, but I very much doubt this is the soul signing Fergie was talking about.

  17. denton davey says:

    I’d rather have Berbatov than Huntelaar – but Eto’o or Santa Cruz would be better “fits” for this current team.

    Of course, the “current team” might just need some serious re-jigging IF Ronaldo is out of the picture. But, I don’t think he’s leaving because I don’t think that Real Madrid can satisfy his money-demands.

    I know that a lot of you will simply guffaw but I wouldn’t mind getting that gigantic Czech – Jan Koller – to be a late, situational super-sub. He’s 6′ 8″ and he can really play. And, for the situations when he would be used – attacking a packed box in a drawn game against one of the also-rans – he doesn’t need to run much; just use his elbows and forehead. Koller has a long, long resume and he has proven that he can score with his noggin and his feet at all levels of competition. He would certainly be AN ALTERNATIVE to the whirligig-style of attacking play of Rooney, Ronaldo, Tevez, Nani, Giggs, Scholes and Carrick.

    For a full-time #9, I’m still keenest on the kid from Lyons., Karim Benzems. He’s going to be really, really expensive but worth the price becauses of his incredible up-side potential – as opposed to guys like Huntelaar, Berbatov, Santa Cruz, and Eto’o, all of whom have downsides that we all know about.

  18. AlexOfMancunia says:

    The way I see it, our first team didn’t lack anything last year as we won the League and European Double.

    What our SQUAD lacked was a fit Saha, who would provide a different option and be more aggressive with defenders and competetive in the air, whilst keeping our attacks flowing with his pace and link-up play.

    If Huntelaar were to come, I would want him on the bench, only needed when we that different option is required during a game, or if we need to rest Rooney or Tevez, yet Manucho may prove to be better at this due to his pace, added to his excellence in the air (judged from the recent ACON).

    I would only want Huntelaar if:-

    -Saha cannot prove his injury problems are over during pre-season.
    -Manucho doesn’t settle quickly(apparent fractured metatarsal will probably prevent this).
    -Other (better) options are not available.
    -Cost isn’t higher than £15m.
    -He is happy to be an impact player.

    If we go for him and most of these criteria aren’t met, then I will presume that Fergie and our scouts see something in him that I don’t, and I will accept him with an open mind and look forward to seeing what I hadn’t already, however I would rather we looked elsewhere.

  19. Taron says:

    I agree with PeeJay. I know we need a striker, but we shouldn’t pay to much for him and I am still hopefull for Rooney and Tevez goal machine. I say if we can get a good price we should get him otherwise we only need to keep Ronaldo, considering that we already did our best deal of the summer (extending Evra’s contract)

  20. jim says:

    Klaas-Jan Huntelaar ?????

    id take him in a heart beat

    i rather him than kaka

    cause hed fit in better

  21. Anant says:

    our first signing this summer should be carlos tevez on a permanent deal . that itself would set us back by 20m or so . i also suggest we stick with our current lineup . no panic buys needed unless ronaldo leaves . young welbeck and manucho could be the perfect impact players we are hoping for . and if saha stays we would at least get 10 decent games from him next season when we need to rest rooney / tevez .

    having said all that it would make most sense for the transfer dept to sort out ronaldos future first and foremost followed by offloading mikael ‘heart attack’ silvestre . dont think any replacement is required too . evans could cover for the gap left by piques departure while the brazilian full back twins should provide decent backup in that region . wesley brown is englands first choice right back n with rednev on his way back it baffles me that people say signing a right back should be priority for us .

    an extra backup winger wouldnt hurt either as i think giggsys legs are gone and park is not good enough for any top 4 team . nani too is inexperienced and would need breaks from time to time next season .

  22. AlexOfMancunia says:

    Anant

    Don’t expect to see much of Fabio and Rafael this season, as I very much doubt that they are ready for any sort of first team action. They will need to adapt to England and I will bet that they are very raw.

    I would expect Ole to have them in the reserves for the time being.

    PS. Sorry for sidetracking.

  23. Ubibi Godwin Jr says:

    At the moment,we need to sign just two players and that would be miguel veloso and huntelar,but I must insist that we have a strong strike force,I bet you guys dont know manucho Goncalves like I know him,the guy is big,strong and can use both feet.He scores many goal with the head,we also have a young skillful striker like the Ghanian born english U17 DANNY WELBECK and also petrucci though I havent seen him play,manucho no doubt will be our solsjaer maybe even better him dont forget fraizer cambell.But we really need miguel veloso,I have watched him play and he is a combative midfeilder,he can also play at the left back,he would be the next roy keane.If SAF can get him and huntalar,then we dont need to buy for two seasons to come,my only disappointment is aaron ramsey…As for the right back the brazilian twin fabio and rafael silva will fit in very soon,my option for the right back at the moment would be hargreves or fletcher rather wesley browm because he is not attcking minded like evra.mind you brown is not the first choice right back in england,the main man is our rival man city’s is micah richards,brown is only improvising for him,then we also have glen johnson fighting for that position and maybe our skipper Garry neville

  24. Brian says:

    DONT WANT HIM, DONT NEED HIM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!.

    He just stands in the box but would add nothing to our overall game play. He would score a lot of goals but is not the type of player we want or need. I could just stand in the box all day and tap the ball in just as well if fergie is interested.

  25. Stephen says:

    Brian, er we need someone to stand in the and tap the ball in!!

  26. Brian says:

    aye but someone with more to his game – movement etc. Huntelaar is a one trick pony.

  27. Stephen says:

    We have Rooney, Carlos and well @ the moment, Ronaldo, I feel we need an out and out striker that simply puts the ball in the net, with no frills, we have everythig else.

  28. Jamshid says:

    Huntelaar? He surely has got a good field record.. The goal ratio is incredible. But, if you have seen him playing you’ll know that he has not really scored in much of his substitued matches. He is someone like Anelka who can do it only if he is the only star player or the spear-head. If he is coming to Manchester he will need a place in th first 11 or else it’s tough to predict anything. He is not that last minute scorer though he can definietly improve. I can see him being another RVN in 2-3years.. but will need a constant first team position..
    He has creativity but lacks pace.

    In my opinion our team needs two important signings..
    A support for the left-back (in case evra gets a knock or is suspended) and a creative striker who can work magic at the very last moment(so that he can used as a substitute when the game is drawn or ifrooney or tevez is out of play)..
    And i still strongly believe Benzema (though he is too costly) will fill in the second as he has got all the ingredients needed and is ofcourse very young.

  29. Whiteside10 says:

    It’s been mentioned in earlier comments, but, to reiterate, I’d previously read comments / heard in press conferences that Ferguson is looking for more of an aerial threat up front… Rooney and Tevez were great last season, but they’re no giants in the air and Huntelaar will bring summat different to the table, so to speak… I’m sure Huntelaar can make the step up to the PL, as Ruud did, and he’d be a great addition in my opinion… especially given that Manucho will need time to gain more top level experience…

  30. Brian says:

    Buy eto’o i reckon – hes available for about 20m and ticks all the boxes.

  31. denton davey says:

    Close, but no cigar from Brian.

    Eo’o is the second-best option;Karim Benzema is the best.

    And, as we know, “money talks and bull shit walks”. ith Benzema – and Rooney, Ronaldo, and Tevez – the attack would be awesome and another CL title would just about cover the cost of the transfer.

  32. Brian says:

    I know i would prefer Benzema as well mate but theres no chance of us getting him. He has just signed a new contract and has also said that it is his dream to play for real madrid. And all we need is another player to court madrid every summer.

  33. Kaho says:

    been reading quite a few comments on here about whether klaas is actually class, well he has a prolific record at ajax, even more impressive then all the other striking exports.

    he can score goals inside and outside the box along with every other part of his body, athletic enough to chase the long ball or weave in and out of defenders.

    his price will not be overly inflated with Ajax spending over £16mill on the serb they brought to replace klaas.

    Saha, great talent whenever he’s fully fit, hardly ever there, it’s like he’s on loan to us whenever he plays.

    Dong, not quite united standard, as good as Rossi ( comparing them both in the reserves) but not good enough in a first team shirt.

    Manucho, he’s Manucho that scored one amazing goal in the african nations!!!! WOOO yeah, not touching a united shirt for a long time.

    i don’t know why we havn’t gone in for David Villa, if he really costs £24mill to £30mill, he’s a bargain if Adebayor costs £30-£35mill!

    Benzema is a similar price but i don’t think we need another big strong striker, reminds me too much of Rooney.

    anyone else think we need backup in the left/right back positions? if we get done by injuries we only have simpson/o shea backing up the left or right, if we don’t think about neville.

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