Robin van Persie was Manchester United’s top scorer the last time the Red Devils won the league.

Along the way the Dutchman scored 26 Premier League goals.

A year earlier Wayne Rooney struck 27 Premier League goals in 2011/12.

Cristiano Ronaldo scored a staggering 31 goals in 34 league games in his incredible 2007/08 season.

In the early 2000s, Ruud van Nistelrooy scored 20+ Premier League goals in four our of five seasons at Old Trafford.

This season, has not been as pretty.

Manchester City v Manchester United - Premier League
(Photo by Ash Donelon/Manchester United via Getty Images)

Barely there strikeforce

United’s strikers have scored a combined 20 Premier League goals this season.

Marcus Rashford has nine, Edinson Cavani six, Anthony Martial four, and Mason Greenwood one.

This is an issue the club urgently have to fix. This is Manchester United after all, the team needs an elite striker.

What’s going wrong?

Of all the forwards, Marcus Rashford deserves the least criticism, as he has 18 goals in all competitions.

Even so, by the standards of great United forwards of the past, his goal return of 9 from 29 Premier League games is uninspiring.

This is reflective of his often erratic play in the final third, where he has missed simple chances which he needs to start putting away.

Edinson Cavani‘s problem is quite simple, he arrived late, and he can’t stay fit. Now 34, United knew what they were getting into.

Cavani has only started nine league games so far, and played a further nine as substitute.

His injury problems are likely to keep resurfacing, they impaired his final season at PSG, and he does not look like the answer for United.

Anthony Martial is more of an enigma, and has been a huge disappointment this season.

 

Last season he struck 17 Premier League goals, his personal best, and this year he has gone backwards, and was doing so before Cavani arrived.

His tally of four league goals is poor, and he has netted in just one of his last 18 club games in all competitions.

Even discounting this season, Martial’s tally last year pushed his Premier League goal return up to an average of just 10.2 per season. He does not appear to be the striker United need, and his supposed ice cool nature in front of goal as evaporated.

Last season Mason Greenwood was a ray of light. From his 17 goals, 10 of them came in the Premier League.

This season has been a write-off for him, he has just five in all competitions. At just 19-years-old, Greenwood deserves some slack, and should return stronger next season.

All four players need a strong finish

None of United’s forwards will be happy with their seasons and still have a chance to redress this.

Reaching 20 league goals looks beyond every one of them at this point, but they can still markedly improve on this return over United’s final nine Premier League matches.

The first step for them is combining to go from 20 goals, to beat Van Persie’s 26. Failing to do that would be embarrassing, and should have been done long before now.

Southampton v Manchester United - Premier League
(Photo by Ash Donelon/Manchester United via Getty Images)

United need a new striker

This poor performance underlines United’s need for a new centre-forward. It’s holding United back at this point.

Erling Haaland alone has 21 in the Bundesliga, as does Andre Silva. Both strikers have been linked to United.

Finding a player capable of replicating Van Persie’s record won’t be easy, but this is the standard by which United’s strikers are judged.

It’s why Romelu Lukaku was seen as a failure, with 16 league goals in his first season, and 12 in his second.

He looks like a new man out at Inter Milan, but at United it simply wasn’t working.

Whoever makes up United’s strikeforce next season, will be expected to perform a lot better than this group have done. In fairness, it shouldn’t be too hard to improve, with no forward on double figures for league goals as we head into April.

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