Manchester United’s start to pre-season has offered reason for the club’s supporters to be optimistic once again.

After the crushing lows of last season, a few confidence building victories are exactly what these players, fans, and new management staff needed.

One of the biggest positives of the tour has been the three man attack of Anthony Martial, Jadon Sancho and Marcus Rashford.

Martial possesses a superior synergy with his two attacking teammates than Cristiano Ronaldo could strike up, and rather than having one high-performing attacker, United now have three of them.

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Terrific Manchester United trio give United hope

The Martial, Rashford and Sancho trio has been a long time coming. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer never once picked them together last season, after finally bringing Sancho to the club.

With Edinson Cavani gone and Cristiano Ronaldo left off tour, Martial, Rashford and Sancho are shining, together.

Martial has scored in three consecutive games while Rashford and Sancho have both scored in two of the matches.

They are a trio Erik ten Hag can build around – but it is a paper-thin trio which need to prove they can deliver when the stakes get tougher.

United lack depth behind them, with Cristiano Ronaldo constituting a riddle which Manchester United should try to solve.

Hard decision ahead on Ronaldo

Erik ten Hag has insisted Ronaldo is part of his plans, yet, wisdom usually suggests you should not try to keep an unhappy player, especially when that player is as high-profile as the club’s number 7.

Ronaldo won’t be happy as Anthony Martial’s back-up, and that’s not how United will use him. But this does present a problem.

Martial’s form typically collapses when he has to compete for his role, while Ronaldo has lacked chemistry with the rest of United’s attackers.

This well oiled, seamless front three we have watched combine this pre-season could fall back into the disjointed attack we watched in 2021/22.

The optimistic perspective is that Ronaldo can adapt and improve under Ten Hag, but to do so, he has to be ‘all in’ on United and not stay begrudgingly.

This is why United may simply be better off cutting ties with Ronaldo and letting him find a new direction elsewhere, if he can.

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Another striker still needed

If the first decision facing United is to let Ronaldo leave, then the second move must be to sign a replacement striker.

Without Ronaldo, United have no backup in attack. At a push Anthony Elanga could fill in, but this is hardly ideal, a player who has just four professional goals to his name.

United played Hannibal up front for the final 25 minutes against Crystal Palace, which showed how threadable United’s options are up front.

With matches due to be played twice a week with the Europa League, United need various options, and that’s not even taking into account injuries.

A reliable back-up or plan B for Martial is required, and while Ronaldo does not fit that specification and could be moved on, United have to identify and find one, quickly.

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