Date: 16th June 2011 at 2:00am
Written by:

The game is dominated by tactics and winning tactics come at a premium.

Time was The Reds could send out the same team and play the same formation, week in week out. Featuring a supporting cast of ready-made, like-for-like subs that quite simply got the job done. And hey, if that didn’t work, you could always send on that number 20!

The glut of goals came from a budding partnership up-front, but there was a good spread throughout the squad with midfielders and defenders netting their fair share.

But 12 years on, we’re plagued by the nightmare of trying to emulate past success. The search goes on and it’s time for yet another reshuffle – the quest to recreate the team that was, the Class of ’99.

So: 1) Do we have 11 players who we could send out every week without thinking, “Oh, but its (insert team name), maybe we should go with experience?”

2) Why the apparent obsession with trying to recreate the lauded 4-4-2 diamond?

The answer to both questions lies somewhere between now and August when all Sir Alex can do is run little experiments before he makes us believe again.

Filled with fringe players who show potential and glimpses of brilliance, the current squad is a gift and a curse. The gift – players are fighting for a spot and, have something to prove and given their chance we’ll start to see what the backroom staff sees. We start to appreciate the Gibsons, the Obertans, the Andersons.

The curse –  players who should be ready-made replacements, who we can rely on to step in as subs, play a full game to cover suspensions and injuries, simply are not ready. A good case for loan spells, blood them at a good level. Realistically speaking, how many loans have come home the finished article and taken the league by storm?

If the plan was replace Roy Keane and Paul Scholes, why not use the players brought in and the few who come through the ranks more often?  Could the problem be that you can’t replace these players? It seems to take 2 players to fill Roy Keane’s boots, and the best solution to the Paul Scholes situation is still Paul Scholes.

Is it time to change tactics, try a 4-3-3, a 4-5-1, an all out 1-1-8? But wait, we only have players who suit a 4-4-2.We know our best back 4, our options up front and for the most part, these spots have cover. Our wide options are numerous, interchangeable, pacey and provide decent service, for the most part. So, to the centre of the pitch, the heart of the team, the void still gapping with Roy Keane and Paul Scholes sized silhouettes.

On paper, the man power is there.

There are and, over the last 12 years, there have been multiple solutions to “the problem”. Yet, the void remains and is all the more real, now that (Sir) Paul Scholes has hung up his boots.  The Reds have to really consider their next move very carefully. The top 2 contenders to fill the gap – Arsenal’s want-away Samir Nasri and Inter Milan’s “is-he-really-on-themarket?” Wesley Sneijder.

Samir Nasri we’ve liked since his Marseille days. When Arsenal swooped, it spelled one thing: trouble. Lo and behold, the first time he locked horns with United, he stole the show. Possibly Arsenal’s biggest success story in the last 5 years, Nasri would be a great addition to The Reds… 3 years ago.

Having found his way as a Gunner, can he adapt to United’s style with tight time constraints? Considering Arsenal’s brand of play, Nasri is strikingly selfish and may not suit United’s neverending team effort. His fantastically French swagger left us gasping when he waltzed through the Fulham defence, but come on, it was the Fulham defence.

Wesley Sneijder. A great talent, ready for a new challenge and whose passing range and creativity command a possible starting price over £30m, Sneijder is easily Inter’s most coveted player. Main concern: he will have the same problem as Veron. Veron has since gone on to achieve greatness for both club and country, but was lost at sea in the Premiership.

You have to hope that Sneijder would not fall into this bracket as he presents a bit of a conundrum: he almost takes up too much space! Sneijder loves to sit a bit deeper than the average attacking midfielder. Great idea, but you get the sense that Sneijder may end up getting in the way. Both Nasri and Sneijder, could do a job, but in different games: Nasri for flair, perhaps against “lesser” opposition, or simply to rile Arsenal; Sneijder offers composure and reliability. Now, consider the pink elephant, Rooney would be the perfect replacement for Scholes, dropped into the midfield at the top of a new diamond.

No new tricks to learn, no new patterns to adapt to -Rooney, will be Rooney. Passing range, tracks back and scores goals. Since illness seems to have forced Fletcher back to being the World’s Best Average Midfielder, what we need is a defensive midfielder who knows his job. Box-to-box, make big tackles, do the simple things exceptionally well, launch an attack, give it to Rooney – our new attacking midfielder.  Didn’t that Phil Jones who we’ve just signed from Rovers have a stellar season playing in a defensive midfielder role?

Between players at our disposal, players back from loan spells and the vast transfer kitty, the future is far from grim. Last season taught us 1 thing – a team written off by every pundit going, that wins the league with 9 points to spare, can’t be far off greatness.

Piece courtesy of Lusungu Chikamata


22 responses to “Drop Rooney, Problem Solved”

  1. cardo says:

    good idea to play rooney in C.M role.. sign a new partner for chicharito as well as the proposed sneijder .. Done….

    ————–De Gae




    • Marlowe says:

      then who will make the tackles and challenges in the midfield? you cant play sneijder and rooney together. thats like lamps and gerrard in the midfield. it just wont work haha

  2. Yohannes says:

    De Gea

    Rafael, Ferdinand, Vida, Evra

    Flecher(Javi Martinez) Jones

    Valencia Young


  3. Ayoola alawusa says:

    Whoever wrote this article must be joking or probably plays too much video games,football manager to be precise! Rooney plays in a position called a false “10”,similar to folks like del piero,totti,zola,di canio,dennis bergkamp,alvaro recoba,e.t.c…because he has attributes to play “deeper” doesn’t mean he’ll be better playing though no doubt he’ll do a good job but that would be limiting him…again i’ll like you to consider his happiness,the position he loves the most,we don’t want our best player being grumpy…if he plays in his favoured “false 10” position that he excels&revels in then it’s an added advantage i think,he’ll track more than occasionally;he’ll drop deep picking up the ball&creating like a midfielder;after creating he bombs into the box to perform his primary role as a strikers,looking to get at the end of crosses,through balls and take the occasional long shots……
    But if he starts at central midfield,he will need to hold position to keep the shape of the formation…spraying passes&occasional forward runs, though could still shoot from long range if there’s an opening but creation would be his main purpose…
    If he plays as an attacking midfielder,then the team would be very vulnerable to counter-attacks,solely because our general play is from the wings with our full backs constantly going forward.I think this formation might be too adventurous unless tactics are more than tweaked,i mean more rigid…with the back four&the defensive midfielder staying back,rarely going forward,leaving attacking duties to the forwards alone…though i do think wayne would be at home in the attacking-midfield role,i don’t think the formation does good to fluid football.we don’t even have a defensive midfielder that can spray pin-point passes&at the same be excellent in the defensive duties,unless we can merge carrick&jones!!!it means if we have a defensive midfielder of that sort maybe it could work,just maybe,a possibility!but for now i don’t think it will…
    So rooney playing in any other position apart from “false 10” or the striking role would be limiting&disgruntling for the player,and sees us not playing to the formation that suits us the most…
    After having said this,SIR ALEX FERGUSON is the man at the helm in whom i have complete trust in(actually that’s an under understatement).So whatever he decides is more than okay with me…signing out,one united!

    • Chudi says:

      If you’re going to start insulting people at least get your facts straight buddy the position you’re thinking of is the ‘FALSE 9’ not the false 10 and I think you’ve mistaken exactly what the false 9 does.

  4. Lexxy says:

    It wont work. Simple

  5. matty201 says:

    manutd next season,
    de gea
    rafeal_ rio_ vida_ evra
    sanchez* flecher_ sneigder_young checharito_ rooney. Barca be wouned to b4 one is to b4 all.

  6. great says:

    buy sanchez,sneijer,nasri. Park and sneijer can do wel in central midfield

  7. Alom says:

    i’ve always been a fan of having Berbatov as our new creative midfielder.. (yes he is not fast but is Xavi? is Scholes? is Sniejder? is Xabi Alonso? thought so)

    he is a player who loves to be involved in play and in his own interview he says he sometimes gets more satisfaction setting up other with goals..
    everyone knows that Berba is a class act, he can hold up the ball great, has got great feet, has got great dribbling, left foot, right foot, outside of the boot and knows how to pick out a pass..

    thats my personal opinion thought i doubt it will ever happen but I would like to see how the team does with Berbatov pulling our strings..

  8. shon says:

    get snjer and dirra thats all.

  9. rewind123 says:

    Excellent insight. Most of the people who have left negative comments are clueless and have probably never played the game before. People should recall where Rooney played to accomodate Ronaldo’s position, which was as a left-sided attacking midfielder.

    He tracked back and created a lot for Ronaldo & the team. It would be good to give him a go in that position because it allows him the space and freedom to be more effective. Clearly Rooney is a player who if you allow him room to play can destroy teams single handedly.


    De Gea

    Rafael Ferdinand Vidic Evra

    Carrick Cleverley


    Nani Young


    I propose this formation with two sitting midfielders without the ball and one sitting with the ball. The players picked for each position can obviosuly be substituted for others who can play the role.

  10. Adam says:

    Rooney is the player we should be building the team around. I mean that in the sense of the playmaker role. Its the perfect position for him. I find it strange we would want Sniedjer or Nasri. They both would get in the way.

    I think if we could, and I’m not convince we will sadly, but if could get Alexis Sanchez then Fergie might be thinking the same thing. The attacking force need to come from wide, whilst the middle needs to provide passing and control. Rooney, Sanchez, Hernandez and Young would be an awesome attacking force.

    That would leave Carrick, Fletcher, Anderson and Cleverley at the moment for the middle. We need another midfield with intelligence and with strong passing. This makes Carrick still an important player for us over a long season. The ideal kind of player is Modric. My only argument there is that if we can sign Sanchez, I would spend the money on him. The reason is that guy is going to be a star and we win games for you.

    Modric is a quality player, but I read he only made 4-5 assists last season. That’s not great for £30-32 million. Somebody above has already mentioned Javi Martinez and I would agree he could be quality for us. A similar kind of player to Modric and Xavi. He might cost £18-20 million, but I think he can have the same impact like Modric and Silva did in England. Also double boost would be that he would be joining fellow Spaniard David De Gea.

    We need to offload Berbatov and Nani to get finance for BOTH Alexis Sanchez and Javi Martinez I think, but it might be well worth it.

    De Gea

    Rafeal Ferdinand Vidic Evra
    Fabio Smalling Jones Evans

    Sanchez Fletcher Martinez Young
    Valencia Carrick Anderson Park
    (Pogba) (Cleverley)

    Rooney Hernandez
    Welbeck Owen