Monday 26 October 2009

Who is our missing link at United?

I think there is little doubt that we would all love the opportunity to spend the Ronaldo war chest of money for Sir Alex. It would be a pleasure. We would all pick a David Silva here, maybe a David Villa there. Some would plump for precocious talent such as Alexi Sanchez, or Douglas Costa. I would love any of those guys!

But at the moment ive got my scouting eye on one less fashionable player

Two years back i felt that United needed a 'big man' striker. A sort of Emile Heskey, but not completely shit. The comparison with the Villa player may well have given the ghost away as to whom im interested in! Well, two years ago that man was Dean Ashton. I crowed on about him day and night to my friends. Its not the fact that United essential need a big traditional striker, as we do not really play like that. However, it would be nice to have the option! The game at Anfield yesterday proved this. There is nothing wrong with employing a striker that can link and hold up play. A certain manager of Manchester City used to do it splendidly for us. But we have never had a power laden striker since Mark Hughes. We've had talisman like Cantona and Sheringham. We've had predators like Van Nistlerooy and Andy Cole. And we have had the flair merchants like Rooney and Dwight Yorke.

But i really want United to have that OPTION..just the possibility

Well two years on, and despite Dean Ashton scoring a magnificent overhead kick in front of the Stretford End that left Fergie and us drooling (he received a standing ovation for his goal), his career appears over after a shattered ankle. So the search starts again for big man, but with very good feet to match. Amazingly we only have to look as far as to the bloke occupying Ashton's old role at West Ham

For me, Carlton Cole is the most improved striker in the Premier League in the last 12 months. When he was at Chelsea they thought he had the talent to lead their frontline for many years to come. After sending him out on several unsuccessful loan deals they rightfully changed their mind. Good feet yes. Hit a barn door from 10 feet no.

A year ago i would not entertain the sight of Cole in a United shirt. But over time i have (and am still) changing my mind. His short cameos for England show a player that oozes confidence, skill and power. And his strike rate for a poor Hammers side is respectable. I wouldn't bring him in to be the primary striker at United, but assessing what we already have in Rooney, Owen and Berbatov, the squad is crying out for a fourth addition to the striking positions. Yes, Macheda and Wellbeck may be those players in the future, but the Manager's selection this season provides evidence that he does not see that as an option yet.

How good could Owen be feeding off a player that held the ball up well? Berba and Roo do not function well doing this. How interesting would it be to see a midfield three with wingers and some power up front. For a club like United it should at least be an option, but today it isn't. There may well be a premium to pay for Cole as he is English, but the bill would be well short of £20m. We could plump for Wolfsburg's Dzeko, but with the player nationality quota coming in i do not think it would be too clever.

Carlton Cole may not be the big name we all crave post Tevez & Ron. But football is sometimes about function. Functionality is what lost us the game against Liverpool and Burnley. It is the reason we lost the Champions League final to Barca. Im not saying lets lose our beautiful style of playing. Im just saying lets add a bit of power to it, allowing Berba and Roo to do all the fancy tricks and flicks.

He may not sell bucket-loads of shirts, but he could be our missing link.



  1. I think we have been a strong, dynamic, dominant [insert some more cliched adjectives to stress excellence] midfielder short. Someone who not only provides good defensive cover -- that we already get from Fletch -- but someone who has a good shot in him and goes forward enough to link up with our strikers. He should ideally be able to contribute 10-12 goals as well as move forward enough to allow Berbatov/Rooney get the support they need. Too often we've been run over in the middle by the likes of Sunderland, and Lucas Leiva(!) Scholes is old which is why he cannot be expected to do more than sit back and dictate play from deep. This isolates our forward line. Carrick is far too static, and Anderson has the skills but lacks the consistency.

    I think I'll sound far too bitter if I go on, so I'll end it here. :)

  2. Cole has improved beyond recognition in the last year and a half. It's also interesting that Capello seems convinced that he needs a player like Heskey (or Cole) to get the most out of Rooney.