Manchester United are used to having an abundance of talented forwards at their disposal. When they won the treble back in 1999, their front four was arguably one of the fiercest ever assembled in English football, with Andy Cole, Dwight Yorke, Teddy Sheringham and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer all frightening in front of goal.
Then came Ruud Van Nistelrooy who was a different animal when it came to goal scoring and Louis Saha who, when fit, could give defenders fits.
In recent times Rooney, Tevez, Ronaldo and Berbatov have led the United front line but with the departure of both Cristiano Ronaldo and Carlos Tevez last season, how does United’s front line match up?
It was assumed that Sir Alex Ferguson would spend some of the £80m he received from the Cristiano Ronaldo sale to bring in another forward but when the transfer window closed and the only strikers United had signed were Michael Owen and Mame Biram Diouf it would be fair to say more than a few eyebrows were raised. It left United with only Rooney, Berbatov and Owen as United’s recognised strikers whilst Danny Welbeck and Kiko Macheda both pushed to become part of Ferguson’s 1st team plans.
United are an attacking team, at half time during the 1968 European Cup final Sir Matt Busby told his team to defend is not the Manchester United way, to go out and attack and enjoy the game (they did and won the game 4-1) so the importance of good forwards is not lost on the club.
Michael Owen may have been seen as a gamble when Fergie signed him but for free, anything he does do is a bonus and when he scored the winner against Man City in the epic game that finished 4-3, he as good as justified his place at United. Owen, at 29 is far from done. He may not be the player he was at Liverpool but if he manages to get 10-15 this season (having scored 4 already), Ferguson will be delighted.
Berbatov, is now in his second season, and looks more at home at United. Although he is not scoring as he did at White Hart Lane, he is bringing more players into the game with his link up play and if he improves on his 14 goals from the last term his season won’t be a disaster.
United’s hopes lie with Wayne Rooney though. He has already scored 10 this term and United will need him to be on top of his game if they are to retain the Premier League title. In recent times he has played in a number of positions to accommodate the now departed Cristiano Ronaldo but this season he is now the main man at United and has seemed to revel in his new position of importance.
United also have Kiko Macheda and Danny Welbeck to call on if need be. Macheda made his name last season with strikes against Aston Villa and Sunderland and will be hoping to build on an impressive debut season. Big things are expected of Welbeck too as Fergie has been waiting to bring a local striker through to the first team. After a stunning strike on his debut last season against Stoke, the 19 year has been impressing in the Carling Cup with 2 goals in 3 games this season.
United are slowly hitting top gear. Rooney is looking better with every game and Berbatov is classy as ever. Owen is reliable when called upon and Diouf, who joins in January, looks quite a prospect. United are seeing their goal output steadily rising having scored 9 goals in 3 games and if they can remain in such a rich vein of form, the early talk of a striker crisis will certainly have looked premature.