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Striking Questions and Nicolas Anelka

The press has been awash with rumours that United are planning a swoop on Nicolas Anelka, which could either be a straight purchase or a swap deal depending on where you read it. We also got some comments for the last post, where people gave some of their opinions on whether Anelka would or would not fit our setup.

I had a few opinions of my own. Well, more than a few to be more exact. So I thought I could write an entire post about it. Anyway, we’ll also deal with a little more of the striking conundrum that we face here apart from discussing Le Sulk.

Of course, we are not here to discuss the veracity of the rumours that link Anelka with OT.

First of all, Anelka might have been unsettled by the departure of Sam Allardyce from Bolton. (You could always bet on him getting unsettled at the drop of a hat. So no real rocket science there.) In the comments to the last post, there were a few misgivings about him fitting in our setup. Yes, he is terribly ambitious and would like to get back to playing Champions League football. He is also known to be a troublemaker. Something Ferguson, for one, doesn’t take too lightly. So it could be fair to think his presence might be too unsettling for the squad, and Sir Alex might be too averse to taking a chance.

But we also know that Sir Alex is a great man manager. One who is known for getting the best out of players despite their non-footballing inadequacies till the point, where it might get too unmanageable for him. I would think that at 28, we have a much fitter striker than say, either Saha or Smith. He is a good finisher and has good movement. When Big Sam could get him to fit into his 4-5-1 formation which demands a lot of discipline and selflessness and very little service from the midfield in open play, our formation and fluid play creates a lot more chances, something Anelka will relish. More than creating trouble, he is a player that needs to be loved and made to be felt wanted. Now, he would be foolish to believe that he is the sole important player if he were to come to a star-studded team like United. And Sir Alex might make that clear to him in the beginning.

So should he be signed? If we get the financial backing and confidence from the Glazers, and if a good deal is in place, we must go for a proven and a world class striker. One may rattle off names like Berbatov, Eto’o, Torres, Villa and so on. Although, save for Berbatov, we cannot know for sure that this world class striker that we are blowing our money on is going to set the league on fire. But if the club is looking for bargain buys either in the form of a swap deal or anything less than 8 million, then Anelka is a much better bet than say, Owen.

I read in the Daily Mail that Sammy Lee was looking at a swap deal with either Saha or Smith and Richardson as make-weights for the deal. Now we know this is not going to be necessarily true but as a hypothesis it is useful to consider that Smith and Richardson for Anelka would be a very good bit of business.

Now going back to the actual position that is the focal point of this article, I had exchanged IM conversations with Ahmed, where he asked me (after the news of the trio of purchases that we made) if we needed to buy any other player. I suggested that the purchase of Anderson and Nani still doesn’t entirely solve the conundrum facing the striker’s position.

At this state we have some tough decisions to make. Either not make any more purchases over the summer and go with whatever we have, hinging our hopes on the fitness of Saha and blooding Rossi in (hoping he would turn out good). Smith could be the back up. This, I would stop short of terming it ‘brave’, but quite practical and a possible approach Fergie could take.

The other possibility is buying a ‘proven’ striker (something which is again subjective and up to who the team management deem as fit to be bought) who will push Saha, Rossi and Smith down the pecking order, which might sound a tad Chelsea-esque, in the sense that we might be frustrating the life out of youngsters like Rossi and failing to give them a fair run out in the Premiership. It might solve our striker problems, but would it be fair on the youngsters? We will have to wait and see.

So those are some of the questions that still linger in my mind and we will have to only wait and see what holds for us in the days to come.