Louis Van Gaal is gradually piecing together the final bits of his Manchester United jigsaw and will be looking to improve on 4th position last year by challenging for the title in 2015/2016.
He certainly seems to have attempted to remove a lot of the dead wood from his squad by purging the likes of Nani, Darren Fletcher, Tom Cleverley and Anderson. Van Gaal has also decided the best days are behind Robin Van Persie, Radamel Falcao and Rafael Da Silva. I don’t think there will be many arguments regarding all of the above decisions from the Old Trafford faithful. They have been replaced by more than adequate signings including World Cup winner Bastian Schweinsteiger and highly rated Memphis Depay.
Van Gaal has been toying with the media recently regarding any potential additions to his strike force, initially insinuating that a ‘surprise striker‘ may be on his way, before backtracking and putting it down to the media misunderstanding him. Whether he does or not, the question on most fans lips is whether they seem a little bare up front?
Many football purists believe that you need at least four strikers to survive a long season in the Premier League. I wholeheartedly agree, especially considering United will be returning to the Champions League this season. Van Gaal has only three strikers at his current disposal comprising of Wayne Rooney, James Wilson and Javier Hernandez.
Hernandez was deemed surplus to requirements and shipped off to Real Madrid last season where he struggled to make an impression in a similar system to that of Van Gaal’s.
Wilson on the other hand is highly rated by Van Gaal, and is likely to accumulate more minutes on the pitch this season but obviously he is still short on experience and the honest truth is, that he is still an unknown entity at Premier League level.
This obviously puts a lot of pressure on the main man, and club captain, Wayne Rooney. Rooney has been heaped with pressure ever since being part of the England team at 17, so taking the baton here shouldn’t phase him in the slightest. Often maligned by the press and English football fans, Rooney is criminally underrated despite scoring 170 goals for the club in only 340 games, and considering he has often been rotated to the wing or toward midfield to allow for other, less versatile strikers to be accommodated.
Van Gaal’s lack of concern around his shortage of strikers tells me one of two things: that he plans on playing one striker with support from two wide men, or he really is a little bit bonkers (come on, you’ve seen his press conferences right?!).
Van Gaal loves to give youth a chance, but surely he must invest in a fourth striker as, simply put, if Mr Rooney gets injured they look somewhat weak. Holding on to David De Gea, strengthening the defence, and adding quality additions to the midfield is fantastic for fans to hear, however it becomes irrelevant if you have no one to put the ball in the net.
Both Wilson and Hernandez don’t have the size or style to work well as a lone striker so I think Van Gaal needs to secure the services of a ‘number nine’; someone who can directly replace Rooney’s. Rumours circulating the British press were that it would be Fernando Llorente of Juventus, but I can’t see Man United paying over the odds for a 30 year old striker. More likely would be a bid for PSG talisman Edison Cavani who would fit the mould perfectly, although don’t rule out a cheeky bid for Harry Kane. After all, we know Mr Levy has an tendency to accept big money offers!
If I were in Van Gaal’s shoes, I would take the gamble on bringing in Kane. If Benteke is worth £32m then it will likely take in excess of £40m to lure Super Harry, but if he could recreate or better his heroics of last year then he would be more than worth it. Let’s face it, it might even put a smile on Roy Hodgson’s face too!