Matadors, Masons, and Martials: The striker problem

Edinson Cavani got on the scoresheet for the first time in Manchester United colours against Everton on Saturday. 

He took the goal well, a proper striker’s finish into the bottom corner after being fed by Bruno Fernandes to round off a sweeping counter-attacking move. The goal, his first since he netted for Paris St. Germain against Bordeaux in February, sealed all three points for the Mancunians.

The Uruguayan seems to be getting back to full match fitness, his sharpness in front of goal renewed. This development then begs the question, what is Cavani’s role at United?

He was given the iconic no.7 shirt, and his reputation as one of the world’s most lethal marksmen precedes him. There’s no doubt that when fit and firing, he’d be the best striker at the club.

Ideally, having one of the best strikers in the world at your football club should be a good thing. With United, however, this is a big problem.

Last season, Solskjær assembled an impressive front three in Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial, and Mason Greenwood. So far this season, only Rashford seems to have found his form, the other two struggling with disciplinary issues, injuries, suspensions, and goalmouth famine.

Martial and Greenwood did score in the 5-0 win vs RB Leipzig, but that was largely overshadowed by Rashford’s brilliant hat trick in the same game. That’s been the theme so far this season; Rashford shines and the rest seemingly struggle.

All of a sudden, the front three doesn’t pick itself anymore. Solskjær also seems to have realised that he needs multiple final third playmakers when trying to unlock defences.

This has led to an increase in playtime for Juan Mata in the side, as well as Paul Pogba and Donny van de Beek being deployed as false wingers in a bid to add more creativity higher up the pitch.

These developments will, in all likelihood, mean that there’s only one spot left in the United frontline. Rashford has one nailed down and another other seems reserved for whichever playmaker Solskjær decides to deploy on any given matchday.

The striker spot, however, seems to be up for grabs, and a return to form for Edinson Cavani could well mean both Martial and Greenwood would miss out on the playing minutes they thrived on last season.

Edinson Cavani, Manchester United
A return to form for Edinson Cavani could mean less playing minutes for Anthony Martial and Mason Greenwood. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED BY EUROSPORT.

Of course injuries, form, tactics, and many other factors have to be taken into account. Solskjær’s plans for El Matador remain yet to be seen, but it’s quite clear that should Cavani recreate the feats that helped him achieve superstar status, then he’d undoubtedly be the best striker at the club.

The decision then rests with Solskjær to either stick with the young guns who kept Manchester United firing last season, or, depending on the new veteran marksman to fire the Red Devils towards their goals for this season with his.

Either way, United will have some serious firepower on-field, and on the bench.

Will Solskjær stick with Mason and Martial? Or will he place his trust in El Matador’s experience?

Cavani, Greenwood, Martial, three strikes, who’s out?

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