KIERAN GILL: Man United SHOUT for Harry Kane after wasting numerous chances in Brighton defeat – Marcus Rashford cannot shoulder the goalscoring burden again next season
When Marcus Rashford was passed by Moises Caicedo, the Brighton midfielder came in at right back but saw Jason Steele stop his shot. When Anthony Martial broke behind the back-line, only to fire his effort straight at the goalkeeper. When Antony could have let go with his right foot, only to remember he’s all over. When Bruno Fernandes created chances, but they came to naught.
As Manchester United fans left the Amex Stadium after losing to yet another top-flight team, there was talk of how things could have been different if only they had a distinguished striker.
‘If we had Harry Kane…’ was a theme of those who left after Alexis Mac Allister’s penalty loss in the 99th minute.
It may sound obvious, something like saying if my grandmother had wheels she’d be a bicycle, but that doesn’t take away from the truth.
This is a United team crying out for Kane, a figurehead at the top of the team who wouldn’t pass up the chances that were handed out against Brighton. The ‘expected goals’ stat said they should have scored at least once. They scored none.
Man United fans lamented their lack of a figurehead at the top of the team like Harry Kane
Kane (left) has been linked with a move to Manchester United from Erik ten Hag (right) with his contract at the end of next season and no sign yet of an agreement on a new deal with Tottenham Hotspur
When United’s fans traveled to Tottenham last week, they chanted: ‘Harry Kane, we’ll see you in June.’ They have not shied away from letting the club know what they need, or what they prefer.
Nor did Erik ten Hag, saying: ‘Everyone knows, it’s no secret that we’ve been short of No. 9s all season. We certainly need players on the front line to strengthen the squad.’
United have played a Premier League away game in the top nine eight times this season and they have won zero of those trips, drawn once and lost seven times.
By the end, the Amex atmosphere was carnivalesque and a European victory was celebrated for the hosts.
Fourth in the Premier League is still held by United thanks to a dwindling cushion, but they look over their shoulders, anxious as they travel away to a team with a solid tactical plan.
Brighton should not be overlooked, was exceptional. They were good for Roberto De Zerbi. Now they are even better.
With Fred marking Mac Allister and Fernandes trailing Billy Gilmour, Danny Welbeck dropped to midfield to help build up.
Again and again, Brighton passed out from behind and beat United’s press to get onto the pitch.
It was during one such play that Antony lost control and lunged at a challenge at Mac Allister after failing to win a free kick himself. Brighton played piggy in the middle with their frustrated opponents, young players who played it around like old pros.
Billy Gilmour and Co regularly fell back to cover the Manchester United press
Anthony Martial was one of United’s attackers who missed opportunities on Thursday
Antony – who can only use his left foot – caused a brawl after a challenge on Alexis Mac Allister
Marcus Rashford has taken most of the pressure for goals up front while his peers haven’t been shooting as regularly – but that shouldn’t happen at Old Trafford next season
Luke Shaw, whose handball led to the penalty, summarized the situation afterwards: ‘The problem is that we don’t score. That has happened a lot this season. It’s about the chance at the end, but the game will be different if we score the chances we make.’
United must now travel to West Ham, aware that Liverpool and Brighton are hot on their heels.
Their front three at the Amex consisted of an £86 million winger who can only use his left foot at Antony, a striker who has lost pace through injury at Martial, and a striker who is taking on the burden of scoring at Rashford.
This was just another reminder that United need someone in the shape of Kane this summer.