Former Manchester United midfielder Luke Chadwick has discussed his old club’s current options up front.
The Red Devils looked to have a world class front three in the making towards the end of last season when Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and Mason Greenwood all came into form at around the same time.
This term, however, these players have all seen their form dip at the same time as well, with Martial and Greenwood struggling in particular.
United have been helped by having Edinson Cavani come in as another option up front, while Chadwick also praised the recent form of Daniel James in that front three.
Long-term, however, Chadwick expects Greenwood will make a name for himself as more of a central striker, even though he concedes Rashford and Martial would probably both also like to be playing in that position.
“Rashford had a great impact on the game, a typical goal from him, that’s two in two from him so it’s good to see him back on the score sheet,” Chadwick told CaughtOffside. “Martial struggled a bit in that number 9 position, when the ball went up to him the play broke down a bit. He always looks a threat when he tests the opposition goal but he probably didn’t get into those positions as much as he would’ve liked yesterday.
“It’s a strange situation because given the choice I think both Rashford and Martial would call themselves strikers and probably both want to play that number 9 role. For me, Rashford is the man to play there at the moment. He scores goals in that position. Martial wants to be the number 9, I’m sure he’s said before he’s not really happy in those wide areas, but he hasn’t really shown the same goal threat that he showed towards the end of last season, which was probably the best form of his United career.
“Long term I think Mason Greenwood could be that number 9 who’s relied on to score goals. Obviously Cavani has been holding down that position, but with him being out the manager chose Martial at 9 and Rashford 11.
“It was interesting in midweek to see the front three of Greenwood, Rashford and James – there was real rotation there. I thought James would always be in the wide areas but even he was popping up in the number 9 role. That really gave Sociedad something to think about, they couldn’t cope with them. If Cavani’s playing, he’s obviously an out-and-out number 9 but there is that option to rotate like they did on Thursday.”
On James’ form, Chadwick added: “I was so impressed with Dan James in the last two games he’s started. The pure exuberance and energy, the willingness to press at every opportunity – it really gives the team a lift in my opinion.
“He’s been much criticised at times and there’s still work to do on his end product, but two goals in two games is fantastic for him to get his confidence up. I think he’s been a real shining light in recent games. In January there was talk of him possibly going out on loan so it’s great to see him having that impact, I think fans will appreciate that hard work he puts in in every game he plays.
“He’s always going to be up against it in terms of being that number one choice because he came from a Championship club and didn’t play that much football before he came.
“He’s in a position where United will probably feel they need someone else, a little more strength in depth. I think Dan James playing like he did yesterday will start a lot of games but whether he can do that for a long period of time is an interesting one. His main strength is that raw pace he’s got and he’s a good option to come off the bench. He could be a good squad player but I’m not sure he’ll be first choice over a whole season.
“Having said that with his last two performances he’s put himself in the manager’s mind to start more games for the club.”