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November 28, 2015

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Goal-shy United sends Wilson on loan

AS the final whistle blew on Manchester United’s fourth goalless draw in its last seven matches, the boos filling Old Trafford were another indicator of disenchantment about the team’s style.

The bold, attacking approach in the long tenure of Alex Ferguson is nowhere to be seen at United these days, with caution appearing to reign under Louis van Gaal. And the 0-0 draw against PSV Eindhoven in the Champions League on Wednesday was too much for some.

Former United midfielder Paul Scholes bemoaned the lack of goal threat, saying United is missing the attacking strength to be a threat in Europe this season. Fans on phone-ins said United had become boring, particularly considering the money the club has spent to restore its fortunes after David Moyes’ ill-fated spell in charge.

“Of course (I am worried about the fans),” Van Gaal said yesterday, “because the fans have to be happy. You are playing for the fans, so you cannot deny that. But also you have to see how our opponents are playing against us, and when you see how they play, you know the difficulty of organizing against that type of opponent.”

United has only one first-half goal in its last eight games, and only six goals in total in that period. So worrying is the shortage of goals that it came as a surprise when it announced on Thursday that youngster James Wilson, one of only three out-and-out strikers in the squad, had joined second-tier club Brighton on loan for the rest of the season.

It leaves United with just Wayne Rooney and Anthony Martial as genuine strikers, and suggests Van Gaal will continue to use midfielders Marouane Fellaini and Memphis Depay as makeshift forwards this season.

“In the short term, maybe it’s not so good for Manchester United,” Van Gaal said, defending the decision to let Wilson leave, “but in the long term, it’s better. It is part of the development of a player.”

One of the reasons Danny Welbeck was allowed to leave for Arsenal last season was because Van Gaal was excited at the progress of Wilson, and saw the teenager as being a more prolific back-up at the time to Rooney and Robin van Persie.

Wilson has played two games for United this season, and has scored four goals in 20 games overall.


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