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Friday, April 19, 2024

Two years on Man Utd have made same mistake v City, it cannot be allowed to happen again

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When you face an Erling Haaland led Manchester City, you better have a top striker of your own at the other end.

Sadly, Manchester United went into the derby clash at The Etihad without a recognised centre-forward. How can you expect to stand a chance when that happens?

United gave it a shot, leading 1-0 at half-time through a Marcus Rashford strike. But there was no punch up front, no focal point, and this had an impact on the entire team.

City dominated the game and won 3-1, with their persistence eventually paying off. But this was United turning up to a gun fight with a knife, and paid the price.

Manchester City v Manchester United - Premier League

Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt – AMA/Getty Images

Manchester United faced City with no striker, again

Two years ago in March 2022 Manchester United were beaten by Manchester City 4-1 at The Etihad in a totally one-sided game which could been far more.

That match saw United line up with Bruno Fernandes in a false-nine role. It was a chosen tactic from then manager at the time Ralf Rangnick.

Cristiano Ronaldo had returned to Portugal after a fallout, and of course Edinson Cavani and Anthony Martial were not fit.


You would have hoped by March 2024, lessons would be learned, that Manchester United needed reliable and varied centre-forward options. It hasn’t been taken.

Rasmus Hojlund was signed – he has been a good signing so far. But your first choice striker will always suffer injuries here and there. Or like in Ronaldo’s case in 2022, other issues may crop up.

What you need then, are reliable alternatives. Manchester United have none.

Anthony Martial is still at the club, by default because nobody else wants him, and it is no surprise to see he is once again injured. His contract is finally up at the end of the current season.

This left United lining up at The Etihad with Bruno Fernandes in a false nine role once again. It didn’t work any better this time around.

Manchester United need depth up front

Manchester United chose to tackle the team’s striker deficiency last summer by signing Rasmus Hojlund. He has been an astute addition who could be a long-term answer up front.

But over the next five or six years, Rasmus Hojlund will not play every single game.

And Manchester United need a better alternative than changing system and sticking Bruno Fernandes up top, or Marcus Rashford, which has not worked.

This is a position which needs to be addressed in the summer, and should have been dealt with more substantially.

Since the March 2022 game at The Etihad, there have been four transfer windows. Manchester United have signed one striker on a permanent basis in this time. It simply is not enough.

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