Manchester United were involved in their first stalemate of the season after failing to breakdown a stubborn Newcastle United at Old Trafford on Saturday. The 0-0 draw has once again raised questions about the strength in depth of United’s attack. Wayne Rooney is the sole star striker left to the club following the departure of Robin van Persie to Fenerbahce. However, the England international has been going through a goal drought that stretches to more than 800 minutes. He has not scored for United since April 4.
Despite his team managing only two goals in the opening three games, Louis van Gaal has rejected suggestions of United being weak in attack. The Dutchman will be happy with a return of seven points from the opening three games, but the excitement factor has left a lot to be desired. Against Newcastle, United played at their highest tempo possible. They created more shots on target inside the opening 20 minutes than they had done so far this season. The statistics – apart from the goals – at the end of the game were heavily in favour of United. Van Gaal said:
“No [United need more forwards], because we were three times the best team. My worries is that we have to dominate the opponent. We did it today, we did it against Aston Villa and against Tottenham.
“Against Tottenham was less, but against Villa, Brugge and today we dominate. In USA we dominate against Barcelona, Club America and San Jose, only against PSG we don’t.”
“Wayne scored – only it was not allowed. When you see the television, it is very doubtful.”
The team had a whopping six shots on target and enjoyed 66% possession. The lack of a finishing touch left them disappointed at the end of the game. It has been a difficult week for the Red Devils, who watched one of their summer transfer targets – Pedro – join rivals Chelsea in the £ 21 million deal. A player of his experience and quality available at this price would have been perfect for United. Even though Javier Hernandez continues to be a part of the squad, he no longer appears to be in the plans of manager Van Gaal and an exit could be on the cards sooner rather than later.
Newcastle certainly looked to have come to Old Trafford with the intention of returning home with something. Even though they displayed some ambition, the onus was largely upon United to breakdown the away team. Getting Rooney back to form will be an important priority going forward. The 30-year-old is known to go on scoring spree once he breaks a goal drought. United are likely to bank on this aspect for the upcoming games against Swansea, Liverpool, and Southampton.
Gareth Bale continues to be linked with United while Barcelona superstar Neymar becomes the latest big-name to be linked with the Premier League club in the transfer rumours.