Paul Pogba gave Manchester United fans a half hour window of what a partnership with Bruno Fernandes could look like in a 1-1 with Tottenham Hotspur.
Pogba danced by Eric Dier like he wasn’t there only to be brought down for a penalty to which Fernandes slotted away confidently to secure a share of the points.
The Frenchman has always been a form of frustration to United supporters with his inconsistency. But there was hope a partnership with Fernandes would ignite the drive within him to fulfil his potential. The signs were good on friday night.
David De Gea
But it is blatantly apparent one position is still a problem for Solskjaer. And we are not talking about David de Gea. That one is simple.
The Spanish goalkeeper has peaked with United. He needs a new challenge and Solskjaer needs a keeper their back four can rely on and trust.
As I said it’s simple. Dean Henderson is young and hungry and showing what he can do at the highest level with Sheffield United. He is the best Manchester United have so it is a no brainer. He must be Ole’s number one next season.
But the position that is a real problem is centre forward. I have said it before and I will say it again, a Manchester United team with Martial as their out and out striker is a team that struggles to win trophies.
The Frenchman doesnt get involved enough in the game. If a team play one up top they need one of two things from their main man.
Either to be excellent at holding a ball up and bringing others into the game (Firmino) or to be excellent at running in behind the backline and stretching them (Vardy).
If you get someone who can do both then you have a world class player on your hands (Ronaldo… both of them in case your wondering).
Not Up To The Standard
But Martial excels in neither. He is a wanderer. He will get involved when he feels like it. That is not good enough to be able to bring trophies to Old Trafford.
Is Martial good enough to play his part in Solskjaer’s team? I think he is. He has scored eleven goals in the Premier League this season which is decent. But his level is only good enough to play a supporting role.
I cant see a position where he can play and start week in week out and be a major player for united. Solskjaer himself was so influential as a squad player and this is likely to be Anthony Martial role too.
We have established he isn’t a centre forward. Well not what United need. On the left Rashford is a better player. On the right Dan James works harder for the team than Martial. In behind the striker Pogba stands out as the main man.
So the only place Martial can fit in is in a supporting role to these players. A squad player. Some will say he is a better player than Dan James. But the Welsh international defensively blows Martial out of the water.
And that is needed when you have Rashford, Pogba and Fernandes likely to be key players to get forward creating chances. United will get caught on the counter attack and James has the pace and heart to react to that need for defensive cover.
Of course Mason Greenwood also is superior on the right hand side. And he may one day be the Number nine United will rely on.
Erling Haaland was a big miss for United. He was the perfect fit for this team. Big, strong, holds up the ball, full of pace running in behind the back line. And of course a clinical finisher which it all comes down to.
If Manchester United want to be winning trophies like the Premier League and the Champions League they need to a number nine who can stamp their authority on that position and raise the standards like Rooney and Van Nistelrooy and other greats had done before.
One thing is for sure Martial has not improved. The frenchman is not an out and out goalscorer. He doesnt influence the game. He doesnt drive others on. Rarely does he create something out of nothing to score a goal off his own accord.
You just never think ‘Get the ball to Martial, he can win the game for United’.
Manchester United need a top centre forward and the sooner they find that player the sooner they will start to compete for titles again.