With Manchester United having one of the most up-and-down seasons we’ve ever seen, talk has been rife of how the club are going to move forward.
Options up front have been at the forefront of fans’ minds, with only young Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial scoring the goals post Christmas, which has led many of the Man United faithful to question who the manager needs to bring in this summer.
But perhaps whomever is in charge doesn’t need to look that for from home, because United have a rather promising striking option available who has been on-loan at League One’s Barnsley this season.
His name? Ashley Fletcher, and he’s another one of the ‘new generation’ coming through the ranks at Old Trafford. Make no mistake about it, he’s impressed at Oakwell in front of the Barnsley supporters this term. The Tykes were recently in action at Wembley for the final of the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy on Sunday against Oxford United and Fletcher was named in the starting line-up – something United fans quickly began to pick up on before the game.
It was a case of showing the future, a platform for which the young striker could further throw his name into the hat for next season, and he didn’t disappoint.
The 20-year-old put the ball in the net in front of 60,000 fans at Wembley to help his side to a 3-2 victory and Louis van Gaal will have been keeping a close eye on the game. It seems almost ironic that the Red Devils are still harbouring hopes of a trip to Wembley this season and Fletcher has already been there and done that.
Make no mistake about it, Fletcher’s good form has been a key factor in helping Barnsley finish the season strongly. He’s been faced with managerial changes, but with 13 wins from their last 16 games, the Tykes are still dreaming of a second trip to Wembley for the League One play-offs.
He’s also made his England U-20s bow, netting in a behind-closed-doors friendly against Canada.
It’s interesting that so many strikers are being linked with a move to Old Trafford already, before the season has even started. But do they need to be looking? James Wilson has found form on loan at Brighton, and they’ve still got Wayne Rooney to come back from injury. Rashford is progressing nicely and there is still more to come from Martial, too.
And obviously there is Ashley Fletcher as well. At 20, he will be expected to make the jump into the Premier League relatively soon, whereas Rashford has that year of innocence and excitement.
There’s little doubt that the time he has spent at Barnsley has been useful, and it’s well-and-truly helped with his development. If he can help the Tykes into the play-offs, it’s just another positive for Van Gaal to take.
There are exciting times ahead at Old Trafford.