There is no doubts that when Javier Hernandez burst onto the scene two years ago, he put a broad smile on every single face of the United Faithful. An anonymous footballer, unknown outside of his own country…appearing from nowhere, to score goals of predatory brilliance. A South American Michael Owen…doing the job that Michael Owen was purchased to do! That first twelve months earned him a bumper contract at MUFC, and he deserved every penny of his gazillion percent payrise.
Twenty four months on, and the honeymoon period is over. Chico is very much fourth choice striker, as United traded a mercurial Bulgarian for a prolific Dutchman. It’s the same fight the Mexican was fighting in his first couple of seasons, but the departure of Berbatov has led to a change of tactical conscience at United…only a slight one…but maybe enough to see the tangible end to Chicharito’s chances of starting many games in the foreseeable future.
The biggest debate currently raging between United aficionados is: How do we fit Rooney, Kagawa and RvP into the same team? Many Reds can’t see past the end of their tactical noses, and feel anything other than 4-4-2 is both ‘dirty and vile’…it falls outside the traditions of the club in their opinions. I understand this warm glowing feeling this classic United formation gives supporters, but history never dictates the future…the present does. Today has become a midfield plethora of possession and simplicity. Strikers can no longer sit on the shoulder of the last man, and have a cigarette while the ball is down the other end. Defenders can’t sit in a straight line of four, for 90 minutes, ready to charge their hands into the sky in unison, to claim the mandatory offside they have cultivated. And the players between defence and attack…they need to be skillful magicians…giving the ball away is a criminal act…and creation is their function.
4-4-2 doesn’t lend itself very well to this. 4-4-1-1 is the closest you can get to a compromise. Some think the only variation between the two formation is that man ‘in the hole’ behind the centre forward. But like everything in football, there’s a bit more to it than that. It is important not to isolate the lone striker, because then you might as well play 4-5-1…or even an Italian favoured 4-6-0! That man in the hole has to tie the midfield and attack together, like a piece of elastic…both working hard for the midfield cause of possession, and bursting forward to put the ball in the net. This has been United’s default formation during the Berbatov/Rooney years. Wayne’s willingness to drop deep at every opportunity dictated that this was a natural formation for us to play. It also meant you could stick a Chicharito in that forward role, and he would get bags of service from the wide areas, and a proverbial Evertonian up his backside as support. It was tailor-made for the Mexican.
With the arrival of Kagawa and Van Persie, many feel we will lean towards a more European style of formation, favoured by the Barcelona’s and their mothers. 4-2-3-1 is the idea, or as we played in the Champions League this week, the fabled 4-3-2-1…The Christmas Tree formation that Glenn Hoddle tried to implement on his England side once upon a long ago, with varying success.
This is all very bad news for Chico.
Why? (More …)