Manchester United have always been a club that have scored goals, it is the ‘United way’. Against Benfica in the 1968 European Cup final, after a cautious first half, Sir Matt Busby told his team at half time,
“That’s not the Manchester United way, defending, go out and attack. Go out and enjoy.”
The team took note and went on to win 4-1, lifting the European Cup 10 years after the Munich air disaster.
A core reason behind United’s goal scoring has been the fact that they had goals coming from all over the pitch. In 1991 defender Steve Bruce scored an astonishing 19 goals from defence whilst in 2008 winger/forward Ronaldo grabbed 41 goals as United won both the league and Champions League.
Yet more recently, the number of goals from all over the pitch has dwindled. At the start of the season there was talk of United’s lack of goals but Rooney’s 15 has allayed that talk. Although Rooney is getting the goals, it does not hide the fact that not everyone is getting in on the act, most notably, the midfield.
Man United have always posed a threat from the middle of the pitch be it Scholes or Giggs but as the two age their goal output has decreased and it appears that Ronaldo’s departure has in fact exposed the fact that United’s midfield don’t score enough. This is highlighted perfectly in Paul Scholes who last scored 10 or more goals in the 04-05 season.
Albeit playing in different systems to us, Liverpool can boast of Steven Gerrard who when in form can be counted on to chip in with at least 10 a season which he has done for the past 5 seasons whilst Frank Lampard is doing the same at Chelsea with his record of doing so going back even further than Gerrard’s. Arsenal’s Cesc Fabregas has finally added the goals to his game that were missing and this season despite injury has managed 13.
In comparison this season has seen Valencia grab 7 whilst Giggs, Scholes, Fletcher, Carrick and Gibson have each got 3 adding up to 22 whilst that isn’t bad none of them are a constant threat on goal like United teams of old. Anderson was expected to take over from Scholes but the fact he is more likely to hit a satellite than the back of the net when he shoots and his newly adopted defensive role means he is unlikely to develop into the player many of us expected.
Tom Cleverley has struck 8 times on loan at Vicarage Road with Watford and although Fergie may not trust him to play in the first team for an extended period now, he could very well be the answer later on down the line.
Currently United are not doing badly despite this problem but it is becoming glaringly obvious that it is something we are lacking and hopefully it is something that will be rectified in the near future.