“Sir Alex Ferguson would have us believe he is quite happy with his squad going into their defence of their Premier League crown,” said Stan YSB Collymore. “Yet I still think United look a lot weaker than last term following the loss of Cristiano Ronaldo and Carlos Tevez. Federico Macheda and Danny Welbeck, as I said recently, are a pair of strikers for the future. They are not good enough to come in for a six or ten-game spell if necessary, and nor should they.”

Manchester United’s strikeforce: Wayne Rooney, Dimitar Berbatov, Michael Owen, Federico Macheda, Danny Welbeck.
Appearances: 49, 43, 31, 5, 13 = 141
Goals: 20, 14, 10, 2, 3 = 49
0.35 goals per game.

Chelsea’s strikeforce: Didier Drogba, Nicolas Anelka, Andriy Shevchenko, Salamon Kalou, Daniel Sturridge.
Appearances: 42, 51, N/A, 43, 26 = 162
Goals: 14, 25, N/A 10, 4 = 53
0.33 goals per game

Liverpool’s strikeforce: Fernando Torres, Dirk Kuyt, Andriy Voronin, David Ngog, Nabil El Zhar.
Appearances: 38, 51, N/A, 19, 19 = 127
Goals: 17, 15, N/A, 3, 0 = 35
0.28 goals per game

It’s not just about the statistics though, it’s about the story behind them. Last season Federico Macheda scored an injury time winner on his début in a game we had been losing 2-1 at one point. In his second game he scored another winning goal. Macheda’s goals made the difference between United picking up two points and six points in the last month of the season. Given that we won the season by four points with a worse goal difference than the second-placed team, Macheda’s goals can be traced directly as the difference between us winning and losing the league.

What can the strikers of our rivals claim, particularly those outside the preferred two starters? N’gog? Sturridge? What did they do?

Of course it’s obvious that we will have to work hard to replace Cristiano Ronaldo’s goals but when comparing our strikeforce with that of our rivals, ours is better. The question is whether our superior strikeforce can outscore our rivals’ as well as replacing Ronaldo’s goals. Whilst Liverpool and Chelsea both have a high-scoring midfielder to help their strikers we will be relying more heavily on just our strikers. I’d fancy all five of them to score more goals than they did season though and would certainly prefer Owen/Macheda/Welbeck to Shevchenko/Kalou/Sturridge and Voronin/Ngog/El Zhar.