Why Man United should have pushed harder to sign Mario Mandzukic
Manchester United got off to a flying start against long-time rivals Chelsea with a 4-0 victory at Old Trafford.
The visitors were actually not too bad and the scoreline flattered United a little but everything that could’ve gone right for United, did go right for United and one of the most anticipated aspects of the game was how United would line up with Romelu Lukaku no longer at the club to help score goals.
Lukaku scored 16 league goals in his first season at the club and 12 goals last season. While those aren’t very inspiring stats, it was still more than what Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial got in the last two seasons.
Lukaku suffered last season after a very demanding campaign the season before, where he played most games in all competitions and had to follow that with a long World Cup campaign.
This was compounded by a managerial change which saw Ole Gunnar Solskjaer preferring Marcus Rashford in a central role. One player United were linked with during the summer was Mario Mandzukic of Juventus.
Mandzukic is still a fantastic player. He scored 10 goals and provided 7 assists in all competitions in a system that depended on Cristiano Ronaldo for most of the goals. He was the perfect partner for the Portuguese due to his selflessness.
Manchester United will need goals if Lukaku leaves the club but Mandzukic will not provide a similar threat.
Mandzukic’s best attribute is his ability to hold the ball up in the air during the build-up but his lack of pace will be a real concern, as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has been using quicker players to press the opposition and force errors.
Solskjaer has some very difficult fixtures at the start of the season. He got the absolute best out of his squad for the first three months of his time at the club but couldn’t get the players to sustain that for a longer period due to injury and fitness concerns.
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Manchester United can’t have another season like the last one, as they’re always expected to feature in the Champions League.
A lot of poor recruitment in the last couple of years has led to the current situation and not getting Mandzukic could prove to become a factor in being the difference between Champions League football and having none.