Manchester United’s handling of the striker situation has been a problem all season.
Mario Mandzukic was a player the club could have signed last summer, The Times reported, and he remained an option in the weeks leading up to the January transfer window.
Mandzukic, 33, is a proven striker who has scored against United in the past and would have been a very useful stop-gap option.
Tuttosport reported in November that Mandzukic was desperate to leave Juventus to join United, and wanted to link up in December to train to get a headstart ahead of a January move.
United evidently made clear the club did not intend to sign him, so he cut his losses and headed to Qatar to sign with Al Duhail on December 26, BBC Sport reported.
Misguided over confidence
Mandzukic playing in Qatar is a waste. He is a proven goalscorer good enough to still make an impact for United.
His goal at the 2018 World Cup semi-final led to England’s elimination, and he also netted in the final.
Last season he struck 10 goals for Juventus despite being used mainly as a substitute.
It appears to us as though there was a big miscalculation here from United.
The Mandzukic trail went cold, just as the Erling Haaland pursuit was heating up.
United looked to discard the possibility of signing the Croatian in favour of Haaland.
Haaland was a better option, but United’s pursuit failed. He clinched his move to Borussia Dortmund three days after Mandzukic made his switch.
United lost out on both, and are now desperately scrabbling around late in the window, with The Mail reporting a loan enquiry for Leicester flop Islam Slimani.
Another reason United may have chosen to ignore Mandzukic was the confidence the club had in the trio of Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford and Mason Greenwood.
All three were playing well in December, but United should have realised from Martial’s early season lay-off that three forwards are not enough, especially when one is just a teenager.
Now Marcus Rashford’s injury has ramped up the pressure, when with better planning, Mandzukic could have been in at Old Trafford and playing already.
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