Moving up the table

September 5, 2007
By Ive Beeckmans, Man United Correspondent
(Archive)

I can't say I'm not a bit disappointed Manchester United didn't bring in an extra striker after Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's retirement. Look at it how you want but we're thin up front.

EmpicsSolskjaer: Gone and not replaced.

Louis Saha, Wayne Rooney and Carlos Tevez are the only recognised strikers in the team, with only the first one 100% comfortable playing the role of main striker. Both Wayne and Carlos are more at ease playing in support of a striker and like to get the ball at their feet, instead of over the top or from a cross.

Yes, we also have Dong Fangzhuo and Fraizer Campbell, but they're not good enough for the Premiership. Not now, and I'm afraid not ever, although I wouldn't mind if one or both of them proved me wrong. I've seen them play while they were at our feeder club Royal Antwerp FC and while they really stood out there and scored quite easily, the Belgian 'second class' is more or less equivalent to League Two, maybe the lower half of League One in England. I'm keen to see what happens in January, although that will undoubtedly depend on the position we're in and the fitness of our other strikers at that moment.

Tottenham Hotspur was a game from which we should only remember one thing: the three points (and maybe Nani's strike). Ironically, it was probably the worst game of the campaign so far, but the only thing that really matters is we won it. It was obvious what was missing, maybe even more than in previous games: an out and out striker. Luckily, Saha's return proved to be very near.

Against Sunderland in the first half, it was the same story as the previous games. We were dominant - not great, but ok - and the crosses came in, only nobody was there to put them in the back of the net. Tevez is really not going to head it in - even if he wanted to - and Anderson is more an attacking midfielder than a second striker, so he'll definitely not get in there.

About the Brazilian kid, his debut was decent enough, he showed a few nice touches and made a couple of passes, but missed that out and out striker in front of him. Don't forget the lad is just 18 and has only been in the country for a month, don't expect too much from him just yet.

With the introduction of Saha, it became all the more obvious what was lacking in previous games. He managed to stretch the game and make the Sunderland defence think. By going deep often, he also managed to create space to set up an attack when he dropped back which opened up the game and saw us create a couple of good chances.

The goal may not have come from a good attack, but being able to convert from set pieces is essential if you want to win titles.

With Saha back in the frame, Ronaldo returning from his suspension and Gary Neville closing in on fitness, the new players like Nani, Anderson and Tevez will be able to play with less pressure to perform. Things are looking up and can only get better.


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