Former United striker Scott McGarvey believes that new signing Anthony Martial shouldn’t be judged by the size of his transfer fee and that United are going to miss having an experienced centre-back this season.
Scott thinks that United’s form so far this season has been patchy and the team must strive to gain a level of consistency: “Performance-wise it has been a little bit up and down, I think there has been good spells in all the games but it’s getting that consistency of performing week in week out for 90 minutes which they’ve not quite got yet.
“If they’d have won the Swansea game you’d have been looking at sitting near the top of the league so the game against Liverpool has now taken on massive importance because we don’t want to let City get too far away from us.”
United have found scoring goals a problem during their league games this season and Scott thinks that the team need a striker with a big physical presence: “Sometimes I don’t think they’re direct enough and they seem to want to give too many passes in the final third. The days of a winger getting down the line and knocking a cross into someone in the middle seem to have gone and I don’t know why because it’s an easy way of scoring a goal.
“We do miss a striker, I love Wayne Rooney and I think he’s a different class but he needs a bit of help up there. He needs to be playing with a Van Nistelrooy type player, someone with that physical presence.
“Most teams that win the league, the goals will be spread out all over the team but I think you need a striker who is going to score 20 goals a season. You need other players to chip in as well but I just don’t think United have that at this second in time.
“The Brugge game showed that we can score goals but I wouldn’t get too carried away with that because the standard of Belgian football is nowhere near the Premiership.”
Louis Van Gaal has brought in more new faces this summer, once again spending over £100 million in the transfer market but Scott shares the concern of some fans that some of these players could be preventing home-grown youngsters from getting a chance in the first team: “My big worry is that if Rooney was to be out of the team in the next couple of years, would Luke Shaw be the only English player?
“It’s something I don’t like, not seeing as many British players there. With the young players coming through, you want to see them get a chance and maybe Van Gaal feels that Paddy McNair who is still there has a chance of getting into the team.
“For me, I would have bought an experienced centre-half, someone who could do a job for a couple of years and give the kids that he thinks are going to come through some proper experience. Someone who is commanding and can organise the back four, a leader. That’s what I think we’re going to lack this season.”
United have also received criticism for the size of the fee paid for relatively inexperienced striker Anthony Martial: “The fact of the matter is that this is a player who could be a really top player and I’ve seen enough of him to say that he’s got a lot of attributes that you want in a player.
“He’s only young and it does seem a lot of money but if he was to go on and perform over the next few years and hit that potential then it’ll be worth it. It’s a crazy world at the moment and you can’t judge a player on their valuation or the amount of money they’re earning because it’s false and everybody knows that.”
Several established players left United this summer as Louis Van Gaal continued his clear out of players still at the club from Sir Alex Ferguson’s time in charge. Jonny Evans was one of those who departed, joining West Brom after making nearly 200 appearances for the Red Devils.
Scott made 25 appearances for United in the early 1980’s after scoring an astonishing amount of goals in the reserves and youth team and knows how hard it can be for a youth player to establish himself at a club as big as United: “To be fair to Jonny Evans, he was a consistent player for the club for a few years. You don’t play the amount of games he did for Manchester United if you’re an average player.
“I think Jonny is a really good footballer, he just seemed to pick up niggly injuries on a regular basis. He’s a good centre-half and I think he’ll go on and have a great career at West Brom, no disrespect to them but I’m surprised that a bigger club didn’t come in and take him. A 27-year-old centre-back who has experience of playing in the Champions League, I’m surprised he went for as little as he did because for me he’s a great buy.”
A regular question among fans and pundits this season has been whether United are good enough to win the title and Scott has his doubts: “I don’t think so, I think United are still in a transitional period. Everybody’s talking about the players that are coming in but Van Gaal has to get the best out of the ones that are already at the club and I’m not sure he’s doing that with certain players, though he’s done well with Chris Smalling and maybe one or two others.
“They’re still missing that experienced centre-half and 20 goal a season striker although I do think Rooney will come good. Morgan Schneiderlin was good at Southampton but once you go to a top club like United there’s a lot more pressure. At Southampton you could have a couple of bad games in a row but you can’t do that at United.
“You only have to look at someone like Tom Cleverley, when he was coming through he had two or three bad games and was absolutely lambasted.”
Scott is saddened to hear about the recent death of former United player Ralph Milne, the pair played together at Bristol City and Scott has fond memories of the Dundee United legend: “I played with him at Bristol City and he was a nice guy. He had a weakness and that was he liked to gamble and he liked a drink.
“He was another United player who got lambasted and branded one of Fergie’s worst signings but nothing can take away the fact that Fergie bought him.
Ralph was a really quick player and he stood out because of his pace and eye for goal which was what made him a player.
“He never got a cap for Scotland but he was part of a very good Dundee United side in the early eighties and when he was there he was a different class. I played a few games with him at Bristol City and he wasn’t there long before he signed for United.
“We thought he was going to Leeds United and when we heard it was Manchester United we were all gobsmacked as I’m sure Ralph was himself but it was a great move for him.”