United Under The Microscope - Forwards
Firing On Blanks
Out Of Confidence, Full Of Memes
Not all of United's woes can be put down to the transfer of Alexis Sanchez from Arsenal in January 2018, but as hindsight comes more and more into play it does seem to be a crucial spanner in the works. Not only did it disrupt the harmony Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford had finally engineered on that left hand side, it absolutely smashed apart the delicate wage structure that United still possessed. Ander Herrera has already shown the effects of losing that structure, you have to wonder who might else follow him out the door now?
Under both Mourinho and Solskjaer, Sanchez has had plenty of issues. Rarely fancied by either of them, the striker has had injury issues throughout his time at Old Trafford and rarely shown even glimpses of the pace, power and brutal finishing that made him arguably one of the world's best players at Arsenal.
Both Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial have shown glimpses of real talent during their times in the team this season. Martial's fantastic run at the end of Mourinho's tenure seemed bizarre as well as outstanding at the time, though he has really petered out under the Norwegian. Marcus Rashford in many ways was the personification of the feel good factor Solskjaer brought with him initially, scoring goals in the bucket loads in his first few months. However, his form and confidence have seemingly evaporated around him as United's season spiralled out of control.
Then we come to Romelu Lukaku, perhaps the most divisive player at Manchester United at the moment? His goalscoring record is not up for debate; he is still the most potent United player at the moment by a mile and that is unlikely to change going forward. What people can point to however is a.) the style a team is pretty much forced into when he is in the side, and b.) the sheer amount of big chances the Belgian is prone to missing.
It seems clear that Solskjaer favours a quick-paced, on the floor type of football in comparison to the powerful, balls into the box type of strategy often employed by Mourinho. Can United challenge at the top of the table with Lukaku leading the line? Absolutely. Is it worth risking the careers of the likes of Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial to incorporate him? Probably not.
Solskjaer should be careful in just how quickly he looks to discard the likes of Lukaku however. A different and potentially handy option to employ off the bench, Lukaku brings a wealth of Premier League experience with him to any team and, at age just 26, it would be a shame to see his obvious talents be used somewhere else.