Manchester United: The Future?

May 31 2007

With the arrival of Portuguese winger Nani and Brazilian attacking midfielder Anderson at Old Trafford apparently imminent, Alex Ferguson appears to be confirming his conviction in the fluid 4-2-3-1 formation that he adopted in the second half of the 2006-2007 season.

Many observers have declared that a frontman must be Ferguson’s chief priority in the transfer window, but the signings of Owen Hargreaves, Nani and Anderson suggest a distinct change of emphasis.

Talented attacking midfielders are one commodity which United – in Scholes, Giggs and Cristiano Ronaldo – possess in abundance. So why sign two more?

It is my belief that Ferguson envisages a new shape for the new team he hopes to propel to greatness over the coming seasons. A Gattuso-Pirlo-style midfield axis of Hargreaves and Carrick will support a trio of attacking midfielders capable of playing on either flank and interchanging positions at will. They provide the attacking impetus for the team – much as Rooney, Ronaldo and Giggs did last season – reducing the frontman to the role of mere link-up player. As a consequence, the need for a Samuel Eto’o/Fernando Torres-style 25-goals-a-season striker diminishes.

Here’s how United might line up at the start of the 2008-2009 season:

1. Ben Foster
2. Danny Simpson
3. Patrice Evra
4. Rio Ferdinand
5. Nemanja Vidic
6. Owen Hargreaves
7. Cristiano Ronaldo
8. Michael Carrick
9. Louis Saha (?)
10. Wayne Rooney
11. Anderson/Nani

Louis Saha might not be United’s first-choice centre forward by then, but in the context of the present discussion the incumbent of the number 9 shirt matters not. In this 4-2-3-1, Carrick and Hargreaves protect the back four, and Rooney, Ronaldo and Anderson/Nani buzz around in support of the striker.

The team has an English spine (Foster, Ferdinand, Carrick, Hargreaves, Rooney) supplemented by Portuguese/Brazilian flair on the flanks. The trio of Ronaldo, Rooney and Anderson/Nani can change positions at will, and Giggs can be brought on to replace any of them.

The result is a team with a solid centre, pacy wings and a bewildering array of attacking talent capable of blowing through even the most disciplined defence. With six players allocated predominantly defensive responsibilities, the team is compact and hard to break down, but with three pacy young players largely absolved of such duties, it is a team which would be even more devastating on the counter-attack than Jose Mourinho’s 4-3-3. In theory.

Of course Ferguson might now go out and spunk £50 million on David Villa and prove that this is all bollocks. So we’ll just have to wait and see…


4 Responses to “Manchester United: The Future?”

  1. John Boy Says:

    Sounds to me like a decent plan. I’m sure these new guys will do well for united, unlike the great Brazilian Kleberson (what ever happened to him?)

    I don’t see Smith as the ideal number 9 for united, but as a versatile, hard working player I’d like very much for him to stay and not go to Tottenham, as suggested the Sun today.

  2. […] was interesting to see United lining up with a classic 4-2-3-1 shape: Carrick and O’Shea sitting in front of the back four, Frazier Campbell (how is he not Scottish […]

  3. martyn Says:

    that is a gd plan but we need giggs and tezes

  4. martyn Says:

    reading are so shit why do they have a team

    man u all the way

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