Saturday, October 01, 2005

4-4-2 my foot!

I spent all morning watching United play some tremendous free-flowing attacking football, and listening to the mindless drones in the commentary box tell me it was because Fergie had reverted to the classic 4-4-2 formation of old. I thought the morning press would provide a different point of view, but I have yet to see one writer or commentator suggest otherwise.

A load of rubbish - all of it. The only thing that changed was the personnel. United have been lining up in a 4-2-3-1 formation all season. It is, in my armchair estimation, an excellent way to organise, provided you have the right people in the right places. When you're on the backfoot, it glides into a 4-5-1, and when you get possession and counter-attack, it can be a classic 4-4-2, or even a good old-fashioned 4-2-4.

Up until the Liverpool game a fortnight ago, the it was consistently two of Keane, Smith and Fletcher in front of the back four, with Ruud up front. Scholes in the middle of the trio, with Rooney and just a single one of Giggs, Park and Ronaldo flanking him. And therein lies the key.

The only game prior to today that we started with two of our wingers on the pitch was at Debreceni. And we won that 3-0. But we still didn't play the kind of football that we produced against Fulham.

The difference lies in the fact that for the first time, it was Wayne Rooney playing in the centre of that triumverate. Paul Scholes has been playing in that 'hole' thus far, and he hasn't been able to do it justice. For the whole system to work, it needs a 90-minute marauder in the middle, and that suits Rooney perfectly. Throw in a pacy and tricky winger on either side, and you've got a fluid, total-football style team, that is bound to entertain. Especially with Rio falling asleep at the back every so often. It could have worked with the Paul Scholes of a few years ago - but Wayne's the man for the job today. I'd even consider having Ronaldo there, with Giggs and Park flanking him, ahead of Scholes.

The challenge I think for Sir Alex is going to be figuring out the holding pair in the middle of the park. If this is the plan, then there's only room for two of Keano, Fletcher, Smith and Scholes in there. Tough call to make

Either which way though - I'm glad to see Sir Alex and Carlos sticking to their guns. While I'm sure they're not always right, it seems to me that they know what they're trying to achieve here. And if the pundits think swapping Rooney for Scholes equates to a change of formation, let them. I'll be backing the lads all the way, and I am nothing if not optimistic.

1 comment:

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