Manchester United could have the most lethal strike partnerships in Europe


Since the departure of Sir Alex Ferguson in 2013 Manchester United haven’t looked the same on the attacking front, but do they already have the answer?

Manchester United have had a huge lack of consistency in the attacking areas since the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson back in 2013. The 10 months that David Moyes had at the helm saw an ageing Robin Van Persie and Wayne Rooney deplete, looking like shells of their former selves during the Scots’ short tenure at the club.

Young Belgian prospect Adnan Januzaj had an electric start during his breakout season, but was never deemed good enough to lead United’s attack. When Louis Van Gaal took over heading into the 2014/15 season, he was able to bring in some South American reinforcements, in the form of then club-record signing Angel Di Maria from Real Madrid and Columbian hit-man Radamel Falcao who looked to reignite his lightning form after a dry spell in Monaco.

Both signings failed to make a real impact at the club, resulting in both players departing the club after just 12 months in the North West of England. The strategy changed on the attacking front. Van Gaal and Ed Woodward decide to invest in younger talent, signing promising Dutch winger Memphis Depay from PSV Eindhoven and then unknown by most, Monaco forward Anthony Martial. Martial started life at Manchester United brilliantly scoring in a 3-1 win over bitter rivals Liverpool on his debut, and a remarkable goal at that. With Depay being likened to a young Cristiano Ronaldo and Martial being likened to a young Thierry Henry, it looked to be an exciting time for the Red side of Manchester.

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While Martial continued to fire on all fronts, Memphis was unable to string together a run of form. He showed glimpses of what he could do, which still leaves us United fans dwelling on what could’ve been, now he has picked up form for Lyon. United were still struggling for numbers in the attacking third, with Rooney and Martial both injured, Manchester born teenager Marcus Rashford stepped in for the Europa League clash vs FC Midtjylland, bagging two goals in a 5-1 win. This earning him a starting place when they met with Arsenal the following weekend. Bagging another brace as United brushed past Arsenal 3-1. United fans were in awe of the talent they possessed.

The following season Jose Mourinho took over from Louis Van Gaal, bringing in Zlatan Ibrahimović on a free transfer from PSG, taking the no. 9 shirt from Anthony Martial.  Zlatan had a brilliant first season helping United to League Cup and Europa League triumph. Rashford and Martial were forced onto the wing and had significantly quieter seasons. Toward the end of the campaign the Swede tore his ACL, leaving him out for the foreseeable future. This led Jose to look for yet another new attacker, signing Romelu Lukaku from Everton for £75 million.

This left Martial and Rashford competing for the left-wing position that was left vacant after the departure of Memphis Depay. Both had small patches of form, but never showed the same prolific nature that they had playing through the middle. Rashford was seemingly preferred by Jose Mourinho, leaving Martial’s opportunities limited.

Going into the 2018/19 season Lukaku had piled on the pounds to better suit the hold up play that Jose required from him. This caused him to lose a yard of pace, with his form like United’s heavily depleting, when Jose was eventually replaced by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as manager Lukaku lost his place in the side with Rashford taking the no. 9 position and Martial reinstated on the left-hand side rotating with Alexis Sanchez who signed from Arsenal as part of a swap deal that saw midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan go the other way.

United were back firing for the first three months of Ole’s spell, but the form quickly dropped leaving United in 6th as the season came to a close. Ole then brought in young Welsh winger Daniel James who had impressed in the Championship for Swansea. Ole also switched up the system with Martial back through the middle and Rashford out on the left. Which is where things started to heat up.

The pace and power of both forwards were too hot to handle for most teams, including Man City who were schooled in their own backyard, while both were fit United were a force Rashford scoring 14 in the league and Martial scoring 11. The one touch play combined with the speed the two posses took United fans back to the days of Ronaldo and Rooney leading the line in the 2000s. With the current set of players United have we could see Ole deploy a front two next season as oppose to a front three. With Rashford’s recent absence we have seen Martial and James play as a two, but James lacks the striker’s instinct that Rashford possesses, so he often finds himself out of position and not lining up with Martial. With Rashford returning from injury in time for next season, an explosive strike partnership could be formed.

Next. This young star could follow Mason Greenwood to United's first team. dark

What do you think, can Rashford and Martial be the next great partnerships at United?