Manchester United’s performance against Newcastle in their 3-0 victory at Newcastle yesterday was arguably their best of the season.
At times Manchester United have looked unconvincing this season and have been exposed at the back.
Manchester United started the game at Newcastle yesterday without any recognised out-and-out wingers.
United under Sir Alex Ferguson have always used wingers and it came as a slight surprise that the United team sheet yesterday didn’t contain any.
Portuguese winger Nani wasn’t even in the United squad for the Newcastle game. The mercurial Portuguese international has had a poor season so far and was linked with a move away from Old Trafford in the summer.
He will again be linked with a move away after being left out of this clash, it remains to be seen whether to be seen if Nani has a future at the club. According to United boss Sir Alex Ferguson Antonio Valencia wasn’t fully-fit, but the Ecuadorian international did come on as a second half substitute.
One of United’s other wide options Ashley Young is currently out injured. Fergie may have been forced into using a formation without wingers, but it certainly worked out well for the visitors.
The more narrow formation made United look less open than they have done in recent weeks. The likes of Shinji Kagawa, Tom Cleverley and Michael Carrick were superb in central midfield. They did their duty both going forward and going backwards.
Tom Cleverly is starting to prove his worth to the United team. Cleverley needs to add goals to his game and it looks as though he is starting to do exactly that. Kagawa is capable of playing in the middle or on the left side of midfield; yesterday’s role seemed to fit Kagawa perfectly.
The lack of width didn’t hinder United’s performance at all. In fact the team produced a better display without wingers. One of the outstanding performers for the visitors was Wayne Rooney, who was playing at the head of a diamond midfield.
Not only is Wayne Rooney a top-class striker, he is a good all-round footballer. Rooney has played in midfield before and he could play the role more often this season. He definitely has all the attributes to be a great attacking midfielder.
His passing, vision and drive are all ideal to play in the role. He is an intelligent football and is very capable of playing anywhere on the pitch. This role could be Wayne Rooney’s future as a footballer, especially when he gets older.
Although Manchester United looked less vulnerable at the back goalkeeper David de Gea still looked slightly shaky on crosses. He is an excellent shot-stopper, but he has to learn to be stronger on crosses and realise that he likely to be challenged on every set-piece.
The Spaniard is only young and still has time to work on his faults. He is undoubtedly a talented keeper, but he has a lot learn before he is considered a top class goalkeeper. Sir Alex Ferguson obviously rates the Spaniard highly and will know how best to develop the keeper.
Manchester United have struggled to find consistency this season, yet the Red Devils still find themselves second place in the Premier League table. The victory over Newcastle put Sir Alex Ferguson’s side above bitter-rivals Manchester City in the fledgling table.
United were in complete control of the Newcastle game and will have to keep performing at the same level for the rest of the season if they are going to win the Premier League title this season.
Should Manchester United carry on playing without wingers?