Whisper it, because there’s still a little juice left in the transfer window, but the satirist’s dream of a ‘Harry and Marv’ strike partnership at Manchester United may finally become a permanent fixture.
Despite dominating possession and firing eight shots at Newcastle’s Tim Krul in their goalless draw at Old Trafford, United never really looked like scoring after Steve McClaren’s side found some shape midway through the first half.
Having been lethal in the 3-1 win against Club Brugge in midweek, summer signing Memphis couldn’t follow up on his two-goal Champions League haul from the wide-forward position, while captain and line-leader Wayne Rooney reverted to the form that has seen him fail to fire in his past 10 club appearances.
Neither Adnan Januzaj nor Juan Mata looked capable of breaking the deadlock, with substitute Javier Hernandez coming closest to beating Krul with a point-blank effort blocked off the Dutch goalkeeper’s legs.
Considering how efficiently Van Gaal has gone about strengthening his side’s other deficiencies, with almost £40m spent on midfielders Morgan Schneiderlin and Bastian Schweinsteiger, up to £31m on Memphis and £12.7m for right-back Darmian, the Old Trafford faithful could be forgiven for expecting a new striker this summer.
However, the Iron Tulip stood steadfast behind his misfiring skipper, stating when asked if he needed more attacking options:
“No, because we were three times the best team.
“Wayne scored. Only it was not allowed…I am satisfied with the performance and not with the result. We were unlucky with rewarding ourselves because we have created a lot of chances.”
The chance of which he spoke was a marginal offside call, and Van Gaal ought to be concerned after Rooney managed just three shots over the 90 minutes, two of them on target.
That being said, the much-travelled coach’s insistence that United don’t need another striker must bode well for Belgian giant Marouane Fellaini, who followed up on a fine seven-goal haul last term, when struggling for a first-team place, with his side’s all-important third against Brugge, after coming on with six minutes remaining.
Fellaini’s three-match ban from the end of the 2014/15 Premier League term is now complete, and it will be interesting to see if Van Gaal rewards the former Everton man for his Old Trafford goal with a start in the Belgium return leg.
One thing’s for certain – if the 13-time Premier League champions are to win the title at 7/1 odds, they need something different up front, and quickly.
It probably won’t be Barcelona’s Neymar at £137.8m, as reported in the Daily Star, but it could be Fellaini at number 10.
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