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?
The RoM 2017-18 Season Preview is available for just £5. It includes an EXCLUSIVE interview with Paul Scholes, a Q&A with the country's top journalists about our transfer targets, articles by brilliant United writers, and so much more. All profit goes to Trafford Macmillan so please support this fantastic cause.