They often say that it’s the greatest problem a manager can have.
That when the bossman sits down he just doesn’t know who to pick…and that’s not because all his players are rubbish…but because they all warrant selection.
Chicharito’s vital double against Wigan, and his general form whenever he puts on the Red, has now given Fergie that very headache! In many ways it’s the atypical problem that Mr Solskjaer used to produce. Yes he will score goals…but do you save him just in-case you need an impact from the bench?
This year has seen Sir Alex be more rigid with his tactics more than ever, and I suspect that is because of the midfielders currently at his disposal. Of course there’s the classic 4-4-2..the United fans formation of choice. Two centre mids, two flying wingers, and a Yorke and Cole partnership of assimilation. It’s a tradition isn’t it? Well actually…no it isn’t. At least not in recent memory. This year we’ve seen United use the 4-3-3/4-5-1 variation more than ever. It used to be saved for European away ties, or trips to places like Arsenal. But more recently we’ve seen us use it as an almost ‘Go To’ formation. Fletcher, Scholes, Ando, Carrick and Gibson – making a combination of a narrow three. With Nani wide, and either Giggsy or Rooney left, give or take a Ji Sung Park here and there.
Most United fans I know are NOT happy about this, but personally…I’m all for it. I don’t believe in having one formation and swashbuckling away with it. Eventually…you become Arsenal and get mugged off by the likes of Birmingham as we saw yesterday. I think Sir Alex plays to the strengths of his squad, and until the day we decide to bring in a top class creative player, things wont change anytime soon.
Which leads us to the strikers.
As we know, Messrs Berbatov and Rooney have completely swapped roles this year. Berba now knows where the back of the net is again, and Rooney has in part forgotten. However with almost single digit games left to play in the Prem, we have only lost the once, which in many way is the most amazing statistic of the season! On top of Berbatov’s rise to the top of the proverbial milk bottle, we have the stunning introduction of Javier Hernandez. We all got a sniff of him during the last World Cup, and I think it was fair to say we all got a little excited! Well, he has continued that brilliance into this year of football, and has all but ended the career of Michael Owen at United.
So with the current formation Fergie is churning out, where does that leave our three alpha male forwards?
Well firstly, it leaves Wayne Rooney on the left (when we are not 4-4-2) . It’s very hard to justify playing Wayne at the point of the attack, when he has scored so infrequently this year. However, the main issue really is Berbatov ineptitude to play as a lone striker away from home. Suddenly that nice headache is a bit more tricky for the gaffer!
I think there is no doubt in the Manager’s mind that when he plays a two up top, he plumps for his Number 9 and 10. But Chicharito is now starting to infect that automatic selection with his disease of choice. And that disease is called GOALS. It pays the bills. It’s a football team’s currency. A mere 13 shots from the Mexican have produced a staggering 9 goals this season in the league. No mean feat indeed! Everything about the lad spells out ‘This is the future, and the future is Pea Green’.. In my eyes, this is a bigger problem for both Berba and Roo, than it is for Sir Alex.
Many talked of Berbatov’s ‘dropping’ at Wigan as something overtly significant, but I don’t think so. With the Marseille home leg coming up..a game in which we need to score goals in, I think the manager has the moody Bulgarian well and truly pencilled in. However, with Chelsea and Liverpool away on us..its not quite as simple. If I was the Manager I would stick with the formula. Chicharito up top, and Rooney left.
And why? For this reason:
Chicharito runs the last defender. Rooney does not, and Berba isn’t blessed with the pace. John Terry and Jamie Carragher will s#@t themselves. They know Berba will drift around and that will suit them. They also know Rooney’s game back to front, so no real surprises there. Which leads us to our nuclear weapon from the Americas! Now the boy may not have the link know-how of the other two, but he will scare the living daylights out of anyone that has to mark his speed and his finishing prowess. Especially if those ‘anyones’ are two ageing defenders. Is it a risk to sit Berbatov on the bench in technically your biggest league matches of the season? Maybe. But you play to your strengths. It isn’t rocket science..but it might as well be!
Long term who knows how Fergie will treat this ‘problem’. Berba has an epic last big deal about to be offered to him, and Rooney…well lets not even go there. What we know is that they wont be going anywhere soon. But if I had a choice, as of next year Chico would be on that first eleven team-sheet ALOT more. I see him as a future catalyst for the club. Yes it’s still very early days for the lad. But I sense a phenomenon. And at five times less the value of Fernando Torres, he could be the best bit of business Sir Alex has done since he attracted a multi stepovering spotty kid from Portugal for a similar price some seven years ago.
Can the Little Pea fully come out of his shell to win United the title? I really do hope so.
Nice article Rob. Personally I think Chicharito is perfect for an impact sub but like you say, Chelsea’s backline will not be able to handle his pace so he should start against them.
With regards to our formation, I saw a SSN feature with Scott Minto who was discussing our formation. For once I had to agree with what he was saying. He basically said that whilst we have been struggling with Nani as our only winger, we could have played a 4-1-2-1-2 similar to Chelsea’s formation. We have the flying wingbacks in Evra and Rafael, Carrick sitting in front of defense doing what he does best, not much. Fletcher or Scholes or Ando followed by Nani behind the front two. Give Nani a free role to wonder and feed Rooney and Berba. Now I’m not saying depoly this all the time but it must surely beat playing Rooney out left or Fletcher out right?