vs NEWCASTLE | 19/4/2011
|LAST SEASON |
A flat 4-2-3-1 offered Sir Alex's men solidity at the expense of invention, as Anderson acted as the visitors’ destroyer alongside the more creative Michael Carrick in the middle of the park.
With neither player possessing the ability to break forward similarly to the Paul Scholes of yesteryear, Rooney was forced to come deep to look for the ball.
As Cheik Tiote man-marked the former Everton man out of the game, a no man's land between an isolated Chicharito and the central midfielders was created. With Nani and Ryan Giggs on the flanks as opposed to the more direct Antonio Valencia, the eventual champions appeared stodgy, unable to break forward and the game was therefore too tight for either side to properly threaten. Like their fixtures away to Sunderland, Blackburn and Chelsea, the champions played far too deep in the middle.
|POSSIBLE UNITED LINE-UP|
With the former Aston Villa man having joined the champions’ ranks, there’s reason to believe that Nani will see his opportunities for first-team football diminish even further.
However, this doesn’t necessarily have to be the case. With the Portuguese utilised on his favoured left and Young moved in behind the strikers, as has been his most effective position over the last 12 months, United would be able to play their new signing without sacrificing the club’s leading assist scorer last season.
More importantly, however, having Young in an advanced central position – ie. at the top of a wide diamond – would allow United to flow from back to front, ensuring that Rooney isn’t wasted too deep and Hernandez isn’t left alone to chase down opposition defenders, as was the case in the Champions League final. With Darren Fletcher sat deep and the industrious Valencia willing to track back, United need not fear being overrun. Indeed, in games where Sir Alex is willing to take a draw, Park could replace Nani to tighten up the midfield even more.
Whether the champions bolster their squad even further this summer remains to be seen but with some shrewd-looking business already completed there’s a good chance of a season of football at the Theatre of Dreams more befitting of the name.