This article is part of Football FanCast’s Pundit View series, which provides opinion and analysis on recent quotes from journalists, pundits, players and managers…
Speaking to GQ, former Manchester United striker Louis Saha has pinpointed exactly what Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side could do with right now.
The ex-France international spent several years at Old Trafford after joining from Fulham, and scored 42 goals and provided a further 19 assists in 124 games across all competitions.
After looking at the current composition of the United squad, the 41-year-old insisted the Red Devils desperately need a centre-forward like Ruud van Nistelrooy who is “obsessed” with scoring goals.
He said: “United’s strikers are still very young. Maybe they need some kind of mentoring from an experienced strikers. At the moment the team looks like they need an experienced striker who is obsessed with scoring, someone who can get ten extra goals, someone like Van Nistelrooy who was obsessed about the goal. They need that now and that has to come from Rashford and Martial.
“I have big hopes for them and I watched Martial with big eyes because he’s a finisher. Rashford has great technique and can strike the ball amazingly from distance. He goes in behind defenders to create not just space for other players, but chances for himself. When you have these qualities you can over-think. You can’t think too much, you have to play on instinct.”
Whilst Saha’s sentiments are understandable, it is difficult to imagine a player of the ilk of Van Nistelrooy finding himself in the current United team. After all, the Red Devils arguably had a proven goal-scorer who thrived on penalty box finishes in Romelu Lukaku, but sent him packing because he may not have fitted into what Solskjaer now wants from his side. As per Understat, just one of the Belgian’s goals last season came from outside the area.
What United need is for the likes of Martial and Rashford themselves to develop that ruthless instinct from goal, and become “obsessed” with scoring. They already have the pace and movement to cause opposition teams problems, but if they can add that predatory-style finishing to their game then they can solve a major issue. Take the latter’s close-range miss against Brighton last weekend for example. They’re the sort of chances Van Nistelrooy used to gobble up for breakfast.
It’s imperative for United that their current striking options slowly begin to improve this key facet of the game.