The game of soccer, like every other sport, has been revolutionized in that last decade or so and the main reason for the upgrade is the advancement of technology that has proliferated into all sectors of this world. Gone is the static 4-4-2 as the standard formation for professional clubs. The majority of teams prefer to fill their starting lineups with at least three midfielders nowadays and resistance to that change leaves the possibility of your team giving up the lion-share of possession during the match.
Manchester United made the 4-4-2 formation popular in the 90s and early 2000s, although even Sir Alex Ferguson preferred to pack the midfield against formidable opponents. I’m not claiming the 4-4-2 is incompatible with success because that would be a misnomer and it could still be utilized against the smaller clubs, but that’s on contingent upon having two great center-mids and explosive wingers.
However, Manchester United currently don’t fit that description. Some may also make the case that it is now detrimental to their future success and with Wayne Rooney signing a new extension, the club will be faced with an excruciating conundrum waiting ahead.
Manchester United’s two biggest assets may also be detrimental to next season’s challenge for the title as this season’s prospects are effectively over. I won’t contest the paradoxical element to my statement, but my explanation will hopefully relay the necessary information needed to understand my point.
Manchester United seems extremely vulnerable during matches against top clubs because their pairing midfielders nearly always get outnumbered in the midfield. Winning the midfield battle is imperative to a club’s success and on this current form, it’s clear that an upgrade in the midfield is going to be a top priority in the summer. However, changing the formation to a more modern 4-2-3-1 could also change the Red Devil’s fortunes and for that to occur, David Moyes will have to choose between Wayne Rooney and Robin Van Persie as the striker to lead them to glory.
Manchester United must maximize the full squad in order to reach their potential. Playing Rooney and Van Persie side by side forces players like Adnan Januzaj, Juan Mata and Shinji Kagawa on the width, where their creativity is hampered and space to flourish is diminished.
Juan Mata’s best performance was his first match against Cardiff City playing right under Robin Van Persie. Mata has freedom to roam and dictate the match at his tempo, which in the end was better for United as the results proved that. At times he looks misemployed on wing, like an operatic star without the platform to sing on the biggest stage.
We need those players I named above playing at their best. Therefore, a restructuring of our formation to allow those players to prosper is essential.
Now the question is, who should you drop? My answer would be that it has to be Van Persie. As great of a talent he is, Van Persie is also more susceptible to injuries than Rooney.
Rooney just signed an extension to 2019; therefore, Moyes will feel some pressure to start him also. Both players are world-class and have the ability to fill the role of the team’s catalyst on a title winning campaign, but Rooney has been the face of the club since Cristiano Ronaldo left and should be chosen ahead of the Dutch striker.