After dropping out of the Champions League, Manchester United have a lot of questions to answer, especially if they are to be considered Premier League contenders. Their defence has been excellent this season, conceding just ten times in the league, which is the lowest in the division. However, they have struggled to score goals and that looks set to be their downfall, unless something changes soon. The fan base will be eager to see their team strengthen in January and sign a quality striker to lead the line.
Wayne Rooney has been a huge disappointment this season and there are concerns about his ability to score goals regularly in the top flight. He has only managed to score four goals in 18 appearances in all competitions, which is very poor. Harry Kane and Jamie Vardy are easily outscoring their national team captain and this could lead to Rooney missing out on the starting eleven at the Euros. Rooney needs to start putting in better performances for his club if he is to guarantee his place for his country. The Manchester United captain has been playing regularly in the top flight for over a decade and that strain is beginning to show in his game. There is no doubting his ability, but his body is beginning to let him down.
In the summer, Manchester United made two signings to boost their attacking options. These were the signings of Memphis Depay and Anthony Martial, who cost over £60m combined which is an incredible amount for two very young, inconsistent footballers. The latter has been more impressive and looks like he will develop into a clinical goalscorer at the highest level. The Frenchman has scored six goals in 18 appearances for the club to date, including three in the league and the 20-year-old is looking better than the proven Wayne Rooney up front. Meanwhile, Memphis Depay, who was expected to be a huge player for the club this season, has struggled to settle in England. The Dutchman has three goals and no assists in 17 appearances and he needs to improve on this, especially if he wants to be considered a key player for the club.
The club haven’t lost in seven Premier League matches, but they have only scored five goals over this period, which isn’t good enough for a team expected to be challenging for the title. Juan Mata has gone off the boil recently, while Jesse Lingard has been inconsistent since his breakthrough into the first team. Ander Herrera continues to be misused by Louis van Gaal and he could be the answer once he returns from injury as he has an excellent final ball in the final third.
Over the Christmas period, Manchester United need to incorporate Mempis Depay, Ander Herrera, Juan Mata and Anthony Martial into their starting eleven. The dynamic movement, pace and creativity would mean that the side would create chances, which has been lacking recently. The time has arrived to begin planning for a time after Wayne Rooney as he is beginning to hinder the side. If Manchester United go all out to sign a top quality attacker in January, they will emerge as serious contenders for the title. Their defence is consistent enough to stay in the race, but their attack needs to improve.