August 14, 2017
Manchester United’s 4-0 victory over West Ham today was effectively a near perfect performance. The two new signings in Romelu Lukaku and Nemanja Matic fitted into the side like a glove, with Lukaku grabbing a brace and Matic claiming the man of the match award. Alongside this, it is always nice to see the team keep a clean sheet as the defence produced a solid performance as ever, but of course, it will be the attacking talent that will be claiming the headlines tomorrow morning.
The result today no doubt provided as a huge sigh of relief for the United fan base, as the reverse fixture last season ended in a frustrating 1-1 draw as United failed to finish off their chances, something that became a reoccurring theme across their season. After scoring the least amount of goals out of the League’s top six last season, attacking reinforcements were inevitably expected during this Summer’s transfer window but despite being linked to various attacking talents such as Ivan Perisic and Gareth Bale, Lukaku has been the only attacking recruit added to the squad.
Many fans have voiced their concerns with regards to the lack of attacking signings made but today’s performance have perhaps potentially downplayed these thoughts, as the answer to our goal-scoring problem could simply lie amongst certain players simply improving their game from last year. As mentioned, scoring goals last season was a problem for United as not even Zlatan Ibrahimovic was enough firepower to take United to a top four finish, never mind a title challenge.
In fact, our second top scorer in the league last season was Juan Mata, with the Spaniard registering six goals, a rather measly number to be finishing off in second place. When you compare this statistic with the League champions, Chelsea, they had four players above this tally, a considerable difference when you consider United’s attacking players. The likes of Anthony Martial, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, and even Paul Pogba all struggled to provide this clinical edge to United’s attacking play in the League season, with the three of them collectively contributing to just the 13 goals.
It would be a fair assessment to state that United were overly reliant on Ibrahimovic last season to come up with the goals and coming into this new campaign, certain players certainly need to pick up their game in the final third, which ultimately is something that we saw in today’s impressive performance. Whilst Romelu Lukaku will be grabbing the headlines through his impressive brace on his much-anticipated Premier League debut, the attacking players in behind the Belgian striker deserve just as much credit.
The fluidity and attacking mentality showcased by United’s midfielders today were certainly a positive aspect in the Red’s style of play, with Mata, Mkhitaryan, Pogba and then Martial (once coming off the bench) all looking dangerous in the final third of the pitch. Perhaps if these players find a new breath of confidence this year and step up their game, new attacking and big-money signings are not required for the new season. United only managed to score four goals in a League game once last year and today’s result showcased just how effective our offensive frontline can be when they play to the best of their ability.
In the modern game, big money transfers are often seen as the answer to any problem, but perhaps placing faith in those already at the club will provide as the most efficient solution to United’s problems this season. On their day, the likes of Mkhitaryan, Martial and Mata etc can be the most dangerous attackers across the whole of Europe and if they can perform at the level of quality as they did today on a consistent basis, no new attacking signings would be required at the club.