Manchester United: Blueprint Back To The Title

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Updated: February 10, 2014
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David Moyes is used to playing in a 4-2-3-1 formation, with two central midfielders, box to box wingers, high-flying wing backs, and a striker/man in the hole combination. This worked spectacularly at Everton, where he didn’t really have too many funds to work with, and had to use the squad he had in the most optimal way. 

However, Manchester United seems to be floundering under his system. Designed for bigger and slower squads, it emphasizes inside out passing, spreading the ball from the middle of the field to the wings in the final third.

Manchester United is not a side built for such a formation. Even though we’ve been attempting to stick to the wing game crossing it into the box, most of our recent moments of brilliance have happened through passes and through balls in the middle of the park.

I propose that a move to a 4-1-3-2 formation would better suit this United squad that has been struggling to find a rhythm lately. There are several important differences between the current system and what I’m suggesting. 

1. Central midfielders—Michael Carrick currently needs a partner in order to be effective, but Ryan Giggs, Tom Cleverly, and Maraoune Fellaini have all disappointed this year. Darren Fletcher is a great guy and a good player but right now he can’t play every few days.

It still remains to be seen if he will return to his previous level. Under the system I’m promoting, Carrick wouldn’t need a partner in the central/defensive midfield, and Fletcher/Cleverly/Fellaini could make a pretty good bench for the future. 

2. Striker problems—Both Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney are world-class strikers. The problem is only one can be a true forward under the current formation, the other having to fill a supporting midfield role.

The emergence of Adnan Januzaj coupled with the recent purchase of Juan Mata, not to even bother mentioning Shinji Kagawa who has been tragically mishandled under this same formation means that playing Rooney in the 10 spot is pushing other great players out of that role and making him something he’s not. He excels as a striker. Rooney and RVP up front side by side could start the goals rolling in. 

3. Using the best players in the best spots—Forwards could play as out-and-out strikers. With a supporting cast of Januzaj on the left, Mata in the 10 spot, and a world-class right-winger, United could have one of the best strike forces in the world.  

4. It would lessen the transfer needs in the next window—If this switch happened, our needs would lessen from a left back, central midfielder, and central defender to just needing a left back and a better right-wing, thus making the most of what we already have. 

How the new system could work. 

1. Defense—We need a left back. Patrice Evra was a great defender for the Reds, but he’s past his prime. Many fans think that we need to buy a new central defender, but my opinion is that just like in other places under Moyes, we aren’t using what we already have.

Phil Jones and Chris Smalling could be just as good, if not better than the Ferdinand-Vidic partnership that has won us so many trophies. Smalling has been impressive lately; stepping up in a big way to marshal the remaining threads of United’s defense in the Stoke City game. On the other hand, Phil Jones has the size, tenacity, and physicality that our defense needs.

Coupled with an almost perfect tackling record, and a great passing completion percentage, he could be the perfect replacement for Vidic as the defensive strongman for the Reds.  Rafael has held the right-wing spot for a couple of years, and while he has ups and downs, like any other player, he has been more than competent in that role. 

2. Midfield—Great youngsters are coming up, while Mata looks to continue the form that saw him named Chelsea’s player of the year for the last two years. Adnan Januzaj is the youngest regularly starting player since a certain Cristiano Ronaldo.

Current loanees and youth academy products Nick Powell and Wilf Zaha could be great subs or even break through into the starting lineup. Zaha has even more match experience than Januzaj, and after impressing in Cardiff City’s comeback win over Norwich City, he looks promising to fill the right-wing position with both Nani and Antonio Valencia not providing the outside presence needed week in and week out. 

However, he seems to be a perpetual loanee, not being able, so far, to break into the first team.

3. Forwards—RVP and Rooney side by side could be just as good as Yorke and Cole were. Force Rooney to play behind a striker, and you’re limiting him. This could unleash the striking power we have. 

It’s not going to solve all the problems; we still need a good transfer window, but United could very well make top four, if not be a front-runner in the championship race next year if this simple change is introduced. I’d like to see it at least given a try.

At this point in the season, considering how disappointing David Moyes first season has been, it can’t really make matters worse. I’m not saying that we will never win again without instituting the change, but I really do believe that it could better and refine a Red Devils squad with so very much untapped potential. Let’s see what happens. Regardless, We Stand United. 

What do you think? Let me know by leaving a comment below.


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  1. So You

    September 21, 2014 at 11:30 PM

    This is a very good article. Thank you for a great information.

  2. sbo

    August 14, 2014 at 12:44 AM

    I can acquire knowledge in this artilce. Thank you.

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