The fallout from the departure of Alessia Russo is still in full swing for many United fans and as she came on for the Lionesses at the weekend in their final farewell friendly before the World Cup, their was a bittersweet feeling amongst Reds fans.
Though she is yet to officially announce her next club, WSL rivals Arsenal are favourites to snap up the 24-year-old free agent.
However, how big of a loss is Russo to this United side?
After she came on at half time for England, the Lionesses looked brighter but Russo had chance after chance and wasn’t clinical in front of goal.
In fact, in the 45 minutes she was on the pitch, she had five attempts at goal but couldn’t put England ahead.
Russo bagged the fans’ player of the year at this year’s club awards and was joint top goal scorer, scoring 10 goals and assisting one.
However, this was low compared to the top scorers at rival clubs.
England team-mate, Rachel Daly, who made the starting XI against Portugal ahead of Russo, took home the Golden boot after scoring 22 goals for Villa this season and registering 5 assists.
City’s Khadija Shaw scored 20 goals and 7 assists, whilst Spurs Bethany England and Chelsea’s Sam Kerr scored 14 and 12 respectively.
Bar Chelsea, United scored the most goals in the WSL so they were not short of goalscorers within the side.
Not least was Leah Galton who also scored 10 and assisted four, but from the wing.
Galton is a hard-working player who has the ability to adapt and be effective in various positions on the pitch.
Russo had a bigger spotlight on her following that cheeky back-heel in the Euros last year and the way she performed for England in that tournament meant she had a bigger price tag too, but United were confident they could secure her signature.
Despite United’s brilliant run last season which saw them spend most of the season at the top of table until the second to last weekend and make the final of the FA Cup, many fans criticised Skinner for his predictable line-ups, which Russo was a big part of.
In the men’s game, United saw a boost from the sudden departure of star player Ronaldo.
It allowed the squad to rebuild as a team, a unit and allowed those who had been in the shadows of CR7 to excel themselves and take on chances instead of always trying to feed it through to Ronaldo.
United Women could potentially see similar results. Furthermore, if United can invest wisely this transfer window, perhaps in a more clinical number nine, the departure of Russo might become a distant memory.