The back five kept a third clean sheet in the Premier League.
Saturday’s match against Newcastle United exposed this flaw in United’s current make-up.
Now a loveless marriage, they will have to endure each other for their own selfish benefits for the next nine months.
But Rooney has not scored a goal since 4th of April and is struggling to look like the prolific goal-poacher the Red Devils need.
“Then you have to win the game, but when you don’t reward yourself that’s a big pity because at home we lost two points”. “He was just unfortunate [not to score against Newcastle] that a couple of metres either side and that nicks a goal”, Smalling told United’s official website. It is demanded.
Still the attack has suffered this season, and United Manager Louis van Gaal refuses to publicly acknowledge it.
It was in those games, ones against Manchester City, Chelsea, Arsenal, Tottenham Liverpool, that the strangulating control and suffocating ball retention were a positive.
Why else, people are asking, would United waste their time asking about a player who is apparently out of reach?
It’s nothing new. Sir Alex Ferguson would try to combat it by playing two strikers – sometimes more – whenever he could. All of these players would benefit from a quick-thinking, risk-taking, Paul Scholes-type playmaker pulling strings alongside them – someone to make them tick.
Missing out on Pedro will burn United for years now it seems and with clubs willing to sell anyone for the right price, van Gaal needs to open the cheque-book and pay like money does grow on trees.
Ferguson’s teams would go out to blow the opposition away.
The transfer window will close next week on September 1, and United need to decide whether they will accept a season of consolidation with the existing squad, or spend again to ensure a title challenge. It’s perhaps that Wayne Rooney, Juan Mata and Adnan Januzaj are just having a slow start to the season and that when their form returns so will the goals.
Three Premier League games into the new season, the most encouraging part for Manchester United is that they still have not conceded a goal even with David de Gea sitting in the stands, wishing for the day when he could wear Real Madrid’s colours.
It was one of those oppressively muggy days, when a thunderstorm is longed for to clear the cloying air.