Belfast Telegraph

Reinforcing attacking options is Solskjaer's new priority

 

Tough watch: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side have found goals hard to come by this season
Tough watch: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side have found goals hard to come by this season
Rob Holding

By David Charlesworth

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will look to bolster his Manchester United forward line in January after admitting there were no viable replacements for Romelu Lukaku or Alexis Sanchez over the summer.

Around £140million was spent during the last transfer window to bring in defenders Harry Maguire and Aaron Wan-Bissaka plus winger Daniel James.

However, Lukaku was sold to Inter Milan while Sanchez was allowed to join the Serie A giants on a season-long loan, with United's inability to bring in a striker leaving Solskjaer short of attacking options for this campaign.

The United manager said: "When we let Alexis and Romelu go, you don't have to be a rocket scientist to see that it's forwards that next time we're going to recruit. We're looking for some creativity and goals.

"But there's no point getting players in that you're not 100 per cent sure about because when you get players in, you need the right ones that are going to stay here for a longer period.

"That's the long-term thinking that we have to show. I can't think 'I need a player because this is my reputation'. No, it's the club.

"There were strikers (available) but they weren't the ones we wanted. We couldn't get the one we wanted."

United's decision to allow two experienced Premier League campaigners to move on has been compounded by injuries to Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford, both of whom are unlikely to feature for the visit of Arsenal this evening.

Since thumping Chelsea 4-0 on the opening weekend of the season, United have scored on only four more occasions in their subsequent five top-flight fixtures.

Solskjaer admitted their struggles to find the back of the net is a cause for concern, as he said: "We need to score more goals, definitely. We're working on improving the relationships, the patterns, the understanding.

"We've started at one end with the foundations, I think that we've done great defensively but we're not happy with the return going forward."

United have won just two of their opening six league matches and are already 13 points behind runaway leaders Liverpool, albeit having played one less match.

Asked whether he still sees United as a top-four side, Solskjaer replied: "I think so, yeah.

"The top two last season (Manchester City and Liverpool) were too far ahead from the rest of us. I think we should be in and around the places behind there.

"Chelsea are going through a similar period of rebuilding; Arsenal, Tottenham, us. You've got Leicester, there are loads of teams wanting those positions and that's where we'll be in and around."

Arsenal defender Rob Holding is looking for "closure" as he prepares to make his Premier League comeback at Old Trafford - the place where he suffered a serious knee injury nine months ago.

Having worked his way back to fitness, the 24-year-old made his comeback as he captained the Gunners to a comfortable Carabao Cup third-round win over Nottingham Forest - even scoring in the 5-0 victory. But his return to top-flight football looks set to come tonight as he pushes the likes of Sokratis Papastathopoulos and David Luiz for a starting berth.

"It will be coming full circle," he said.

"Even if I am on the bench it will be brilliant to just walk back to that spot that it happened and just sort of take it in and have a bit of a moment.

"Then it will be business as usual. But I couldn't really write it any better.

"I suppose you could say it is a bit of closure for it to happen there and then your first game involved is back there. It will be interesting, but I look forward to it."

•OUTSPOKEN Manchester United legend Roy Keane will give his views on the club, past and present, at a Thursday chat show in Belfast's Waterfront Hall, kick off 8.00pm... and you just know it will be an explosive evening. Tickets are available from www.waterfront.co.uk

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