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A team that spent around ?110 million this summer but failed to strengthen in areas previously identified by the manager as key to improving. While the team manages to control possession, it does so in sterile fashion; a joyless, risk-free United a galaxy away from the days of rampage and adventure so often found under the manager whose name now adorns the old North Stand. Things aren’t all bad, of course, and it’s true that the quality and potential of the signings this summer provides reason for optimism, especially in the long term.
Leaving the fallout to one side (‘Ridiculo!’ as one Spanish front page put it) there can be no doubt that De Gea remaining in Manchester is a quite brilliant twist of fate for the red half of town. The gap in quality between De Gea and summer signing Sergio Romero is akin to the gap that separates the banks of Dover from the Port of Calais, and with Victor Valdes locked in a dungeon somewhere even a sad David offers better all-round goalkeeping than his Argentine compatriot. Chris Smalling has made good progress at centre-back, growing in stature and assuming leadership qualities he hadn’t previously demonstrated, but a question mark still hangs over Daley Blind’s ability to play at centre-back long term, despite an assured start. Signing Morgan Schneiderlin for ?25m could prove to be United’s best piece of business this summer.
Secondly, and in less Machiavellian terms, the Frenchman is just the kind of strong man United’s midfield needs. Bastian Schweinsteiger adds regality and experience, though will need to prove he is physically capable of starting regularly and reliably in midfield after former manager Pep Guardiola openly questioned his fitness.
Michael Carrick will continue to do what Michael Carrick does – albeit less often as he inches towards the twilight of an illustrious career – while Ander Herrera will provide competition, with some feeling he deserves a place in the team either ahead of Juan Mata or as part of a three-man midfield. Possession and passes completed are central to van Gaal’s way of thinking, and this new look midfield has the ability to satisfy those demands.
This is where things get interesting when trying to forecast United’s season – and complicated. The options at no.10 are Memphis, Mata, Wayne Rooney, Marouane Fellaini and 19-year-old Andreas Pereira, with Adnan Januzaj farmed out to Borussia Dortmund for a season.
And as the main striker, having sold Javier Hernandez, Robin van Persie, Angelo Henriquez and politely declined Radamel Falcao, van Gaal has Rooney, James Wilson, Fellaini (shudders) or ?36m deadline day signing Anthony Martial to choose from. Some positional shuffling is guaranteed, but it seems likely that the front four will probably be Memphis on the left, Mata on the right, Rooney at no.10 and Martial as the central striker.
Lack of a sufficiently quality, pacy alternative to Mata on the right is one key problem, limiting United’s counter-attacking opportunities, but van Gaal has always favoured control over chaos anyway and doesn’t seem to mind. Meanwhile, Rooney’s issues are well-documented, Wilson is reportedly reluctantly available for loan and the prospect of relying on long balls to Fellaini for another year is enough to have any United supporter schooled in the ways of Ferguson reaching for a shot glass and a handgun. The team is an injury or two away from playing Fellaini upfront on his own with James Wilson in support – risky given the added physical demands of the Champions League. Overall, 15 players have left the club this summer (17 if you include Tyler Blackett and Januzaj’s loan deals), with seven arrivals. Is Manchester United’s summer business enough to equip them to pip a team like Manchester City to the title? Follow Just Football on Twitter and like us on Facebook for more world football features, insight, opinion and analysis. AdsAre you looking to do some FA Cup betting this year with the Final edging closer and closer?
Pre-season is in full swing but Premier League clubs will still be scouring the market as they bid to improve their respective squads ahead of the new campaign.A Who will Leicester spend the N'Golo Kante money on?
Everton remain hopeful that Leicester City head of recruitment and assistant manager Steve Walsh will agree to become their new sporting director this week. The Toffees' new major shareholder, Farhad Moshiri, is keen on the idea of a director of football at Goodison Park and was unsuccessful in his chase for Sevilla's Monchi.
Walsh, who scouted for Chelsea in the north of England before working for Newcastle then Leicester, is brother of former Everton striker Mickey Walsh, who is the agent for Nigel Pearson.
Ronald Koeman has worked with a director of football throughout his managerial career and is open to the idea of doing so once again.
Everton are also interested in Leicester's Kasper Schmeichel, who will cost around £20million.
Chelsea manager Antonio Conte remains a firm fan of Spain international Morata and would like to have him at Stamford Bridge though Madrid have refused all offers so far.
Madrid now value Morata, who scored three goals for Spain at the European Championship, at around £66m. SIMON JONES: Arsenal are expected to hold talks with Mauro Icardi's representatives in London this week. Inter Milan don't wish to sell their captain but he has yet to be offered a revised contract and his agents want to see what could be on offer should he leave. Arsenal are also interested in Napoli forward Gonzalo Higuain, but Juventus seem to have stolen a march in the pursuit of the 28-year-old Argentine.
Middlesbrough target Alvaro Negredo is expected to join up with the club at their Marbella training base once the loose ends of his transfer are tied up on Monday. Will Negredo guarantee Middlesbrough's Premier League safety, and how impressed have you been with the Teessiders' transfer dealings this summer?
SIMON JONES: Manchester United have asked to be kept informed of developments over Monaco right-back Fabinho. Sportsmail reported United's interest in the Brazil international last year and have maintained contact with Monaco promising the 22-year-old they will allow him to leave this summer. Napoli and Manchester City have also checked on the former Real Madrid Castilla player who is represented by Jorge Mendes.
SIMON JONES: West Ham and Leicester City have made approaches to Toulouse for Wissam Ben Yedder. The 25-year-old striker, who scored 23 goals last season, is one of several options for both clubs.
West Ham are still waiting on an answer from Carlos Bacca at AC Milan and have made a loan offer for Argentine striker Jonathan Calleri from Deportivo Maldonado but face competition from Sevilla. Meanwhile, Leicester's Riyad Mahrez has yet to reject their offer of a new contract which remains on the table. Mario Gotze's return to Borussia Dortmund seems imminent, but will the Westfalenstadion look upon the World Cup winner kindly after branding him a Judas not so long ago? The 24-year-old's switch to Bayern Munich understandably upset the notably fervent Dortmund fanbase.
Sportsmail's Kit Holden examines the relationship between the man once dubbed 'Gotzinho' and the Signal Iduna faithful. N'Jie has failed to make an impact at White Hart Lane since his arrival from Lyon last year. With N'Koudou on the way, Marseille are interested in taking N'Jie and Mauricio Pochettino believes the Cameroon international may be better off playing regularly elsewhere in the season ahead, although neither deal is dependent on the other. The anticipated arrival of winger N'Koudou, days after versatile Dutch striker Vincent Janssen signed from AZ Alkmaar, will exert pressure on places out wide where Spurs already have Nacer Chadli, Erik Lamela and Son Heung-Min competing for places.
N'Koudou, 21, fits Pochettino's preferred profile of attacking player: young, quick and determined. Barcelona have made three signings already this summer and are still looking to strengthen their squad, according to vice-president Jordi Mestre. Mestre went on to dismiss speculation surrounding the future of goalkeeping duo Claudio Bravo and Marc Andre Ter-Stegen. Manchester City target Leroy Sane's father has revealed that European giants Bayern Munich and Real Madrid are still in the running to sign his son, AS reports. Pep Guardiola is a huge admirer of Sane and is keen to add the Schalke starlet to his ranks at City, but Souleymane, Leroy's father, told Sky Deutschland that the Citizens face competition for his signature. Gonzalo Higuain's proposed transfer to Juventus has attracted a lot of attention, unsurprisingly. The Bianconeri are willing to pay £80million to bring the 28-year-old Napoli forward to the Juventus Stadium and are prepared to offload four players, Daniele Rugani, Simone Zaza, Roberto Pereyra and Mauricio Isla, in order to generate the cash needed to sign the Argentine. But for all his goalscoring exploits in Naples, is he truly worth such a significant outlay? Gonzalo Higuain is one of the most sought after strikers in Europe, but is he worth A?80million?
Los Rojiblancos signed the Croatian international from Sassuolo earlier this summer for around £13million and will fight with Juanfran for a starting spot in Diego Simeone's side.
Vrsaljko was part of Croatia's European Championship squad and enjoyed two progressive seasons at Sassuolo before making the move to Spain.
Leicester City forward Ahmed Musa has likened himself to fellow Foxes striker Jamie Vardy and is looking forward to playing with the England star.
Musa joined Leicester from CSKA Moscow for £18million earlier this month after failing to bring him to the King Power Stadium in January. The 23-year-old Nigerian believes he and Vardy have similar playing styles but is not sure who is the quickest. The Belgian forward joined Chelsea earlier this summer from Marseille for £33million but was given extra time off as he recovered from his European Championship exploits.
The former Standard Liege striker took to Twitter to share his happiness at linking up with his new team-mates and will hope to keep the feel-good factor alive for as long as possible in his first season in the Premier League. Manchester United playmaker Juan Mata has played down reports linking him with a move away from Old Trafford in a video on social media. The 28-year-old was sold by Jose Mourinho when the pair were at Chelsea and many thought the Portuguese would deem the Spaniard surplus to requirements again. Sportsmail's Mike Keegan has rubbished earlier reports that Diego Costa has handed in a transfer request at Chelsea. The Frenchman is in a £100million tug-of-war with Manchester United, Juventus and Real Madrid, but could another club swoop in for the talented 23-year-old? Here are the latest odds on where Pogba will be at the end of the transfer window, courtesy of Betway.
JACK GAUGHAN: Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp says it makes no sense for out-of-favour players to stay at Anfield when they have no 'real opportunity to play'. Liverpool have already sold fringe players Jordon Ibe and Martin Skrtel, while Christian Benteke is also expected to leave the club.
Klopp has brought in four players already this summer and believes 'a few things will happen' between now and the end of the window.
Follow us for all the latest transfer news from around the world in our dedicated rolling live blog.
Leicester City are signing Robert Huth on loan for rest of the season from Barclays Premier League rivals Stoke. Huth has made just four appearances for Stoke this season and has been struggling with a knee injury. The nemesis of Manchester City in Champions League has yet to agree personal terms but the deal is advanced. Aston Villa have made a late charge to steal MK Dons wonderkid Dele Alli from under Newcastle's noses. It is understood Paul Lambert has launched an ambitious attempt to land the 18-year-old midfielder before Monday's transfer deadline.


Burnley are showing an interest in Celtic's Anthony Stokes as they weigh up late additions to their squad. The 26-year-old former Arsenal and Sunderland striker is open to a move and keen to return to England. Lazio have expressed an interest in taking over Real Madrid's loan for Javier Hernandez. However, the move is doomed before it gets off the ground as the striker has already played for Manchester United in the League and Capital One Cup and can't play for three clubs in one season. West Ham hope to have an answer from Darren Fletcher by the end of today with a two-and-a-half year deal on the table and the option of an extra year. The Manchester United midfielder has been deemed surplus to requirements by Louis van Gaal but has a host of clubs willing to offer him a contract. Fletcher has been allowed to leave on a free transfer and United will pay a contribution towards his wages with the 30-year-old at pains to point out he has had no dispute with Ed Woodward or Van Gaal who he says have both been supportive in his move away. Sportsmail revealed how the 20-year-old right-back, who only joined Salford in December, had impressed staff during a game between United's Under 21s and first team fringe players.
He has continued to impress in training and in games and United are willing to offer an 18-month deal. Crystal Palace have joined the chase for Bolton’s South Korean international Chung-Yong Lee as manager Alan Pardew eyes a hat-trick of Eagles signings before the close of the transfer window. But with Bolton looking to offload Lee for £500,000 as his contract enters its final six months, Pardew is interested in the 26-year-old wide player who he feels represents good value for money. AC Milan are on the verge of completing a loan deal for Roma and Italy forward Mattia Destro. Destro travelled to Milan on Thursday after agreeing terms with the club, who have already reached a deal with Roma. Roberto Martinez has admitted he is unlikely to sign a striker to replace Samuel Eto'o as he backed Arouna Kone to deliver Everton's goals. Eto'o completed his move to Sampdoria earlier this week, which leaves Everton with Romelu Lukaku and Kone as their only recognised strikers. Kone has endured a wretched time at Goodison Park, scoring only once since his £5million move from Wigan in 2013 and being restricted to a handful of starts because of a serious knee problem, but Martinez's faith in him is total. The Rams are reluctant to part with such a hefty amount, particularly because east Midlands rivals Nottingham Forest didn't pay a penny for a loan earlier in the season. But Ince is happy to leave the KC Stadium in pursuit of first team football and is keen on playing for Steve McClaren.
Borussia Dortmund are laying the groundwork for the potential departure of Mats Hummels to Manchester United. Hummels has underlined in recent days that he intends to see out his contract but it is understood meetings have taken place outlining a price to United of around £37million. Dortmund have also earmarked a potential replacement in Dinamo Kiev's Aleksandar Dragovic and have made contact this week. Tottenham target Yevhen Konoplykana has revealed his interest in a move to Roma and says that the Serie A side and his club Dnipro have an agreement in place.
But the Ukraine international insists that despite an agreement between the clubs, talk of an immediate move is premature.
Mario Balotelli's agent has revealed the striker is 'very disappointed' with his time at Liverpool but has no immediate plans to leave the club. The former AC Milan striker has failed to score a single Premier League goal since arriving at Anfield for £16million and has faced considerable criticism from supporters. But Balotelli's agent, Mino Raiola, said the striker is not ready to turn his back on Brendan Rodgers.
Manchester United face Watford in the Barclays Premier League at Old Trafford on Wednesday evening. I do not think anything will change ahead of this match, despite the run of injuries the club are currently facing. The Spanish goalkeeper returned to the starting XI on Sunday, recovering from injury which kept him out of three matches, but also gave him some recuperation time. Matteo Darmian is fit according to manager Louis van Gaal, but I feel Guillermo Varela has done a lot in recent matches to keep his place. Chris Smalling and Daley Blind have formed a good central defensive partnership this season with Smalling offering the height and brawn in the role, and Blind offering the brain and some good passes from the back. Over the past few matches with Michael Carrick playing in central defence, Morgan Schneiderlin and Ander Herrera have played together in midfield, with the Frenchman offering defensive play and the Spaniard being in the box-to-box role, which seems to work, even against Arsenal.
Both Jesse Lingard and Memphis Depay have done well in the last few matches, with Memphis a stand out performer against Midtjylland and Arsenal. Juan Mata has done a lot this month scoring goals, setting up goals and being involved in goals being scored. The Frenchman missed the last two matches against Midtjylland and Arsenal after injuring himself in the warm up on Thursday. Manchester United are linked with many players during transfer windows, the same names do sometimes fill the newspapers with Wesley Sneijder et al. Manchester United supporters crave for world-class buys; why not remain patient for the players at the club?
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Dave met up with us after Sunderland 2-1 Manchester United and thinks if we want Champions League football next season we have to take the Europa League seriously! Manchester United goalkeeper David De Gea is enjoying life at Old Trafford as United’s first choice keeper. Reports coming from the Mirror today suggests that Manchester United are tracking Feyenoord teenager Tonny Vilhena. Barclays Premier League action returns to Old Trafford on Saturday, 5th December as Manchester United take on West Ham United for their next game. Former Manchester United striker Teddy Sheringham, who turned 50 on Saturday has praised 18-year-old Marcus Rashford, who has made a great start to his career at the club making eight starts for the first team, scoring five goals, one of those in the Manchester derby a fortnight ago. Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal has warned that the real pressure will start now for 18-year-old Rashford, especially against Everton this afternoon where he will go up against reported United target Romelu Lukaku at the Theatre of Dreams.
The match against Everton this afternoon will be a tough one for United and Rashford, who will be leading United’s line again, looking to bag a goal for himself, which will just continue his rise from U18, U19 and U21 football to the first team.
Manchester United beat Everton at Wembley in the semi-final of the Emirates FA Cup in a thrilling encounter which saw chance after chance created. Andy Tate thinks that’s the top four gone for this season after Manchester United 1-1 Leicester City in the Premier League. Manchester United, Everton, Leicester, QPR and Swansea won on an afternoon which could prove crucial at both ends of the Premier League table.
Manchester United were convincing 3-1 winners over Aston Villa at Old Trafford, a result which sees Manchester City slip down to fourth in the Premier League table. United had to wait 43 minutes to break down a stubborn Villa side but did so through Ander Herrera, who converted Daley Blind’s pass into the box.
Wayne Rooney doubled the hosts' lead with an acrobatic effort 10 minutes from time and although Christian Benteke pulled a goal back with a shot which crept under David de Gea, Herrera made certain of the win with a first-time strike from 20 yards in time added on.
QPR, meanwhile, bridged the gap to Premier League safety to just a single point with an emphatic 4-1 victory at West Brom. Eduardo Vargas opened the scoring after 14 minutes with a rifled shot from 20 yards after Charlie Austin’s flick-on and the provider then turned goalscorer when Austin dived to head in a second to stun the home side.
Bobby Zamora added the third in exceptional style, lobbing Boaz Myhill in the Baggies’ goal with the outside of his left foot to put the Rs into a commanding lead.
Victor Anichebe gave West Brom a flicker of hope with a headed goal 15 minutes after the restart but Youssouf Mulumbu was sent off shortly afterwards and Joey Barton added a fourth for QPR with an injury-time strike.
Leicester City remain rooted to the bottom but clinched a much-needed win at the expense of West Ham, who were beaten 2-1 at the King Power Stadium. Esteban Cambiasso put the Foxes in front with a half-volley from the edge of the box but that effort was cancelled out by Cheikhou Kouyate, who capitalised on some slack defending to score at the back post. Leicester left it late to secure their win, Andy King tapping in at close range after Jamie Vardy's scuffed shot with four minutes left to play.
Hull City look set for a nervous finish to the season and those anxieties were heightened by a 3-1 loss at Swansea City, for whom Ki Sung-Yeung beat the offside trap to open the scoring. Bafetimbi Gomis put the seal on the victory with a double either side of Paul McShane's goal for Hull, who had David Meyler sent off for a lunging challenge on Kyle Naughton. Arsenal dealt Liverpool’s top-four hopes a substantial blow with an emphatic 4-1 victory at the Emirates Stadium. Jordan Henderson converted a penalty 15 minutes from time after Raheem Sterling was brought down by Bellerin but Emre Can’s dismissal for a second bookable offence 10 minutes later all-but ended the contest. Olivier Giroud bagged his seventh strike in six Premier League games in stoppage-time with a well-taken, left-footed effort as Arsenal moved up to second in the table.
The result, which leaves Arsenal 7 points behind leaders Chelsea, is the Gunners’ seventh consecutive league victory as well as their seventh consecutive win in all competitions. Chelsea extended their lead at the top of the Premier League to seven points after a 2-1 win over Stoke in which they were given a scare by Charlie Adam’s 59-yard strike. Eden Hazard gave Chelsea the lead from the penalty spot in the 39th minute after Philipp Wollscheid’s late challenge on Cesc Fabregas, but they were pegged back by one of the goals of the season. Zaha, who signed last year from Crystal Palace, is believed to have been handpicked by Sir Alex Ferguson as Nani’s heir apparent, after the Portuguese winger was apparently advised to leave the club by United’s old manager.
Zaha barely has 90 minutes under his belt for United, despite his side’s considerably underwhelming start to the season. Zaha’s lack of playing time is all the more surprising given the persistently low quality of United’s current wing play, one of their most reliable and consistently exhilarating strengths under Sir Alex Ferguson. Indeed, United’s attack has been crying out for the attacking zip, pace and moments of inspiration that Zaha was supposedly bought to provide. Such a predicament must surely be explainable only by one of two reasons: he has either been deemed drastically below the level of quality required to play for Manchester United, or something has occurred behind closed doors which has seriously jeopardised his standing in the eyes of the United management.
The first option, that he is simply not good enough to play at Old Trafford, would imply that Sir Alex Ferguson’s experienced and largely effective scouting network made a drastically inept decision when they agreed to sign him last January. It is true that Zaha’s fleeting moments on the pitch have largely been frustrating and not altogether that encouraging.
If reports in the media are to be believed, though, the player is desperate to force a temporary move out of the club in the hope of gaining a World Cup place, especially in the wake of Theo Walcott’s recent injury. I guess the second option might be the explanation why he’s been continuously snubbed by Moyes.
ICARDI NOT FOR SALE! Inter Milan President Erick Thohir has told Inter Channel that they are not going to sell Icardi.
Premier League champion could be on his way to West Brom! Leicester City defender Jeffrey Schlupp has attracted interest from the Baggies. Rodriguez wants to leave Real Madrid now? Jese Rodriguez has asked Real Madrid permission to leave according to the Sun.


Everton look to replace their precious stone! With the future of John Stones doubtful, Everton are lining up Sunderland's Lamine Kone for a price of ?15m. Sane says he wants to leave! Manchester City target Leroy Sane has told his club FC Schalke that he wants to leave reports Sky Sports. Roma want Barcelona defender Vermaelen!The Belgian centre-back has struggled for fitness at Camp Nou and could move to Serie A giants Roma this summer. Meanwhile, Arsene Wenger has completed the signing of another insanely talented 18 year old. Schweini to play in Turkey?Manchester United star Bastian Schweinsteiger is not a wanted man by Jose Mourinho, and according to latest reports, he might be on his way to Besiktas!
A team that brought in seven senior players last season but released one, exiled another and sold the most expensive signing in the club’s history within a year. The action at Old Trafford these days seems to happen almost anywhere but on the pitch – United’s off-field antics under Ed Woodward often so bizarre you sometimes wonder if the club hasn’t branched out into comedy, a satirical soap opera on how not to run a football club.
Champions League football is also returning to Old Trafford and that anthem alone will suffice in warming the hearts of fans on the Tuesdays and Wednesdays of winter nights to come.
David de Gea’s long-awaited move to Real Madrid was scuppered in some style on the final day of the Spanish transfer window – oh, how it was scuppered. Here was two of the world’s biggest clubs botching a multi-million pound transfer because, essentially, they couldn’t work a fax machine in time – proof that red tape does not restrict itself to annoying the hell out of us mere mortals. Matteo Darmian, mobile, assured and looking like an upright, straight-backed dependable Italian postman from the 1930s as he does, has slotted in effortlessly at right-back, while Luke Shaw could well be the outstanding young player in the Premier League this season if his opening four games are anything to go by. Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo are able deputies, but a commanding Sergio Ramos type never arrived despite being a main target of van Gaal. For one, it stopped Arsenal or Liverpool getting him, thus preventing a direct rival from strengthening in that area.
With Di Maria gone, in the wide areas van Gaal has the following options: Juan Mata (he of no pace), Memphis Depay, a number seven who could finally do the shirt justice post-CR7 himself, Ashley Young, Jesse Lingard and Luis Antonio Valencia, if required.
Selling Hernandez and letting Januzaj (potentially better than the likes of Pedro etc.) go on loan is ridiculous.
Now, after three regressive years with the Bavarian giants, can Gotze win back the crowd that has idolised and ridiculed him?
He cost nearly £9m but made little impression before suffering a bad knee injury in December which required surgery.
Villa have discussed a similar deal with slightly more up front for the England Under 19 international who has scored 12 goals this season. United beat Arsenal at Old Trafford on Sunday afternoon with Marcus Rashford scoring a brace and Ander Herrera scoring the third in a 3-2 victory, which ended a good period for United with them beating Midtjylland 5-1 the previous Thursday and Shrewsbury Town 3-0 just over a week ago.Injuries are something that are costing United at present, but in his pre match press conference, Louis van Gaal confirmed that both Matteo Darmian and Anthony Martial should be back in the squad to face Watford, with Chris Smalling possibly back in time. Marcos Rojo returned to the starting XI on Sunday, coming off just before the hour, which was scheduled, but he was also suffering from a knock, which seems to be alright ahead of the Watford clash.
De Gea is back in form and helped his side beat Arsenal at the weekend and will be looking to do the same against Watford on Wednesday evening.
Darmian needs to earn his place in the team again, as he has not exactly been in form recently, so he needs to be concentrating on that. The partnership might not be all that ideal for some, but United have a good defensive record, joint second best in the league this season conceding 26 goals, the same as Arsenal.
Both players have something to offer the club, with Memphis the one with a point to prove after seeing supporters suggest he should be sold because they lack patience.
This season he has been frustrating as much as he has shone, but currently, he is cementing his place in the team in his favoured number ten role. United have missed the forward, but the rise of Marcus Rashford has cushioned that blow with the 18-year-old scoring twice in each match he has played, which has equalled Radamel Falcao’s goalscoring record for the club last season. Rashford made his debut for the club against Midtjylland back in February, starting the match, which he was to be a substitute in, due to an injury to Anthony Martial. Rashford has eight starts for United, scoring five goals, which have given United supporters something to look forward to this season, a season where everything seems to be going wrong. United do not have a lot of strikers this season, losing the likes of Javier Hernandez and Robin van Persie, and, of course, Radamel Falcao, who Rashford has eclipsed already this season by scoring his fifth goal for the club. A player who lit up the Championship last season and has twice been capped by England, but has made just three appearances for his new side as of January 2014.
They have begun 2014 with three straight defeats in which they have looked particularly uninspiring in attack, but Zaha has yet to play a single minute since the turn of the year. Despite a slight improvement from last year, Antonio Valencia’s form seems to have dropped off once again, a development not helped by his continued failure to work out a way of effectively crossing the ball. Adnan Janujaz, United’s one major positive from the season, has proved the invigorating effect that dynamic attacking players can have on both a side and a crowd.
Of course, Fergie made enough mistakes in the transfer market to ensure that it is not possible to rule this option out completely.
He is undeniably a raw talent, and one who is clearly yet to learn how to chose the correct moments to pass or dribble. Although rumours that he had slept with David Moyes’ daughter escalated on social media to the extent that the player even took to Twitter to deny them personally, such a drastic lack of playing time does suggest something slightly murky may indeed be going on behind closed doors. Although United have been linked with a host of central midfielders this January, there has been little speculation that they are in the market for a new winger, suggesting Moyes still sees potential for the player at the club. Recent rumours suggest he may be set to link up with former United favourite Solskj?r in his new job at Cardiff. At the same time, he surely cannot be off the level of our current wingers to the extent that his current lack of playing time seems to suggest. Yesterday we saw Gonzalo Higuain become the third most expensive transfer of all time.Today will we see Paul Pogba become THE most expensive transfer of all time? In order for you to see this page as it is meant to appear, we ask that you please re-enable your Javascript! A team that has won three of its last 10 league games, scoring six goals in over 900 minutes of football during that time. Indeed, placing any immediate burden of responsibility on a teenager moving to a completely new country is rather unfair. Spent two years as a staff writer at FourFourTwo magazine and have interviewed some of the most famous players on the planet. Who is going to take a punt on Mario Balotelli?A Find out all the answers here with Sportsmail's live updates throughout the day.
United are also awaiting the return to Marouane Fellaini and Antonio Valencia, which will boost the squad going forward. Having De Gea in goal increases United’s chance of winning, and at this stage of the season, that is much-needed. There is a chance he could start at left-back, but I feel Marcos Rojo is more suited to that role and having recently recovered from the injury that has kept him out of action for the last three months, having him back in the starting XI will be something that will help the side a lot more than a player playing out of position. Earlier this season, in the U18, U19  and U21 set up, Rashford made 15 appearances, scoring eight goals and one assist. A known prodigious and rapid attacking threat, but whose continued lack of playing time at his new club continues to bemuse. Ferguson, of course, is no more, and one of the first major actions of his successor, David Moyes, was to arrange a new five year contract for Nani, contributing to the young English winger’s persistent demotion to the reserves in the process. In his side’s recent semi-final first leg defeat in the Carling Cup, a tournament where youth players are consistently given a chance to demonstrate their worth, he was again left on the bench; his talents ignored for yet another fixture to which his talents seemed ideally suited. Ashley Young’s slight return to form has been curtailed by injury, whilst Nani, currently out with a hamstring problem, has failed to make any sort of meaningful impact when he has managed to make it onto the field. Yet this explanation is difficult to believe, especially considering the standard of the player’s performances for Crystal Palace last season, when his electric pace and direct dribbling was instrumental in his team’s promotion to the Premier League.
Yet for a young player desperate to make an impact at his new club, a keen desire to make something happen when on the ball is understandable.
It would, though, require a surprising and worrying amount of stubbornness for Moyes to hold to such a grudge against a player at such an early stage of his United career.
Indeed, his chance to impress may come sooner rather than later, with the manager seemingly reluctant to let the player go out on loan during the January transfer window. After a quarter of a billion worth of spending in two years should that even be the aim anymore?
Martial may be talented but the fee is ridiculous – if you want to take a chance on a 19 year-old then why not James Wilson. Those criticising them seem to suffer from amnesia and play down the fact that they ever criticised the player.
Just three days later, Rashford started against Arsenal, again scoring a brace as United took all three points in the fixture, damaging Arsenal’s title chances at the same time.
Indeed, his performances were of such quality that he was awarded with a place in last season’s Championship’s Team of the Year last season. Surely, though, such flaws can only ever be ironed out through playing time and experience. The lad is quality, with all the attributes of Martial with maybe less power, and he costs nothing. His opposition sees him as a big threat and sometimes put two players to mark him, which creates space for his team-mates to possible break through. Rashford started five more matches without scoring, then came the Manchester derby, where he struck the winning goal in the 1-0 victory. At U21 level, Rashford made nine appearances, scoring one goal and at first team level, he has made eight appearances, scoring five goals and one assist.
He outshone RVP and Falcao when given a chance last season, but still LVG didn’t show enough faith in him and give him enough opportunities.
In total, before today’s match, Rashford has made a total of 37 appearances, scoring 17 goals and three assists. Much alike James Wilson, Rashford has scored in all four age levels in a single season, which is a decent accomplishment.
If he manages to bag a goal, or to today, it will be all worth it for the Mancunian, whose rise to fame came at the right time for him and Manchester United. LVG complains of a lack of pace on the wings despite playing Mata there and having Januzaj, Lingard and Ashley Young at his disposal. Young may be no Neymar, but neither is Pedro as he would have played more last season if that were the case. Young has pace, he is direct and he makes things happen with his dribbling, crossing and shooting.



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