Conforming to European formations – The dreaded 4-2-3-1

Football fans all over the globe have spent the past six or seven years in awe of the ‘tiki-taka’ style of football FC Barcelona and Spain mastered so well. The system requires intelligence and technique of such magnitudes that not many teams/players are able to replicate the artistry.

During Sir Alex Ferguson’s last season at Manchester United, I noticed something that I wasn’t used to seeing. For a few games, SAF decided to use a narrow diamond formation in order to dictated the game and gain a strangle-hold of the possession. Then David Moyes took over the realm, and decided to adopt a 4-2-3-1 full-time.

For well over a decade, I have associated Manchester United with dynamic wide play and two world class strikers. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realise that playing a narrower formation over the past season has left us vulnerable out wide at Old Trafford  (one of the biggest pitches in the PL). Whilst the likes of Cleverly, Fellaini, Carrick and Fletcher have some top-class attributes, agile one/two touch football isn’t one of them. The only logical reason to play such a narrow formation is to keep possession or be hard to beat. Having established that those CM are not capable of keeping possession in that same manner of FC Barcelona or Spain, playing that formation to be ‘hard to beat’ is simply unacceptable as a Manchester United Fan.

In RVP and Rooney, we have two of the best strikers in world football, with more than capable players ready to step up if needed (Hernandez and Welbeck). Why disrupt that firepower by playing one up-front? Carrick is at his best when he is intercepting passes and spraying 30 yard passes out wide or into the channels. Valencia is a left backs worst nightmare, but my patience is wearing thin with Nani and Young (Nani scores for Portugal as I write this!).

Personally speaking – I don’t want to see Manchester United conforming to European formations, we have our own tradition and our own approach which has bought us plenty of success over the years. We are all in agreement that the void created by Vidic and Ferdinands departure is one that needs addressing, but let’s invest out wide. Alexis Sanchez is tearing up this World Cup and we all (unfortunately) saw him single handedly beat England at Wembley last year. The pitch at Old Trafford is big for a reason; lets use it.