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What is Best For Manchester United and Rooney?

Rooney on the Left?
With the international break nearly over, the excitement of the Premier League will be back with us and Manchester United will be looking to get back to winning ways against Everton at Old Trafford at the weekend.

Following the Chelsea defeat I began thinking about what the best Manchester United eleven actually is? You can name Chelsea’s best eleven fairly easily, as with Arsenal and Liverpool. But with United it proves more problematic.

Assuming everyone is fit and assuming Ben Foster does not have any more opportunities to show his ‘skills’ then Edwin van der Sar will be the goalkeeper of choice. Going along the back four it is one that picks itself, Rio Ferdinand, Nemanja Vidic as the centre-back pairing, Patrice Evra at left-back and John O’Shea at right-back. A solid foundation to build upon, but it is from here things become a tad more difficult.

Firstly we must decide which formation to use, will it be 4-4-2 or a 4-3-3 or a 4-5-1? Then think of the personnel, who are the first choice centre midfield pairing? Michael Carrick and Anderson? Darren Fletcher and Paul Scholes? Add Ryan Giggs and Owen Hargreaves to this equation then you are left with a headache only asprin can cure.

You also have a number of wide players, Nani, Antonio Valencia, Ji-Sung Park et al. Plus there is a the argument about how much Michael Owen should play, as it seems Wayne Rooney and Dimitar Berbatov are nailed on starters.

In my opinion against the top class sides a 4-4-2 does not suffice, and this is especially true with Manchester United, as they don’t have centre midfielders that can match Europe’s best. So I would argue for a 4-5-1/4-3-3 depending on possession of the ball.

Then we must add the players to the system and I feel Manchester United have the perfect style of player to adapt to this fairly easily. The system was also used to great effect during ‘the Ronaldo years’. Ronaldo may have gone but I think the person to step into the void left by the Portuguese is Mr Wayne Rooney.

Personally, I would have Fletcher, Carrick and Anderson as the midfield trio. I think they work extremely well together, bring different attributes to the table and can dominate even the strongest midfields in Europe, given the job they did over Chelsea. When a Scholes-Carrick axis was used against Liverpool, it failed, dramatically.

This would leave three places for forward players. The three I would choose would be Nani, Berbatov and Rooney, with Berbatov as the lone striker, Nani on the right and Rooney on the left. I’m braced for the backlash.

Before it comes let me justify this. Rooney is a top class player, no question, but in my opinion he can help the team more cutting in from the left onto his right foot. Evra can provide width and the aforementioned midfield three can provide cover then Rooney moves infield. Think of him in a Messi-esque role. He can cut in, dribble, play the through ball to Dimitar and generally put himself about. The added bonus of his work rate means he can provide support for Evra when needed.

He may operate best behind a front man, but I think he can offer more to the team coming in from the left. This would then allow others to express themselves in a more efficient way and ultimately help the Manchester United side to more success and become more of a cohesive unit.

Let the backlash begin!

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  1. JLay

    November 18, 2009 at 1:41 pm


    Giggs Valencia
    Fletcher Hargreaves

    Evra Rafael
    Vidic Ferdinand

  2. Thomas

    November 17, 2009 at 2:17 am

    The side doesn’t have enough creativity in MF to play a 4-4-2 with any real success.
    Valencia and Nani don’t bring enough out wide to justify the 4-4-2.

    Brown Ferdinand Vidic Evra
    Fletch Hargreaves Carrick
    Valencia Rooney

  3. edgar

    November 16, 2009 at 4:40 pm

    I like the way tyson thiks. But on current form:

    Van der Saar
    Brown Evans Vidic Evra
    Valencia Fletcher Giggs
    Owen Berbatov

    In the Ideal World(given everyone be fit):

    V. der Saar
    Brown Ferdinand Vidic Evra
    Park Fletcher Obertan

  4. Marc

    November 16, 2009 at 10:16 am

    Giggs, Beckham, Keane, Scholes, Butt were all in their prime for the treble winning season of 99. Man United also had a ok player, Jasper Blomqvist, who started the Champions League final becuase Keane and Scholes were suspended.

  5. Derrick

    November 16, 2009 at 10:00 am

    Even the upfront is Rooney-Berba. I dont think there are other good options. Owen is good on bench and at times;when we need to rest one of our top strikers,
    In wing also things are not tht big issue: its valencia and Giggs… when park comes; Fergie might use Park to give rest for thses wingers. I dont mean what does ‘et al’ means. (not nani..) Come on David Schiavone who are them?
    WE are a SCREWED team filled with ok players unlike our golden team of ’99.
    Fergie shud buy a midfielder as effective as Cesc Fabregas/ prefferably Cesc. And pair him with Hargreaves…And ocassionally Anderson.
    Sell Carrick; he is a 18 million shit!

  6. Marc

    November 16, 2009 at 9:28 am

    I like the straight up 4-4-2. With Park on the left Evra can attack without worrying about having his side exposed. Valencia will have to do until Obertan gets a few more 1st team games in. Its time to get Owen a good run of games in.
    van der sar
    Evra Vidic Evans Brown
    Park Fletcher Anderson Valencia
    Rooney Owen

  7. man utd 4 life

    November 16, 2009 at 8:10 am

    van der sar
    brown vidic evans neville
    giggs scholes fletcher valencia

    rooney berbatov( WINNING FORMULA)

  8. Munish

    November 16, 2009 at 4:00 am

    some interesting points made. Nice to see Rooney being compared to Messi but Nani over Valencia??

  9. Zvitei

    November 16, 2009 at 3:39 am

    Van de Sar
    Hargreaves, ferdinand, vidic, evra
    Valencia, fletcher, anderson, obertan(the next best thing in European football)
    Rooney, Berbatov

  10. Shaju

    November 16, 2009 at 2:01 am

    The Crisis of Utd, if any, will not end unless Owen get more chances, or some one else step up and shoot balls to the back of the net at regular intervals. This crisis were there even last few seasons, clearly showcased by the fact that CR7 had to become the main goal scorer despite being a winger, or out of blue goals from Midfielders, defenders etc were needed to win many games. The season so far shown us, that there is clear lack of an out and out striker for UTD. Berba is silky, but not useful, coz how long we would want circus, before we get results. Owen on other hand, gives excellent assists, and moves and weaves unsettling defence lines, and also he is capable of shooting balls. Berba on other hand is more happy to assist, so as rooney now a days. So who gonna shoot the ball??

  11. elvido

    November 16, 2009 at 1:45 am

    I think the lack of a proper front man, adds to the woes of the central midfield, with both Rooney and Berba better off pulling the strings.

    Van Der Saar
    O Shea Vidic Evans Evra
    Fletcher Hargreaves
    Valencia Rooney Obertan/Ando

    In an ideal world though, next season the line up would be,

    Van Der Saar
    Lahm Vidic Evans Evra
    Fletcher Hargreaves
    Valencia Berba Rooney

  12. johnpanda

    November 16, 2009 at 12:27 am

    A bit of controversy in my line up. Firstly, Hargreaves starting at right back would in my opinion form a hugely energetic and aggressive right flank partnership with Valencia – both lightning fast, great crossers and diligent in defense. On the left Obertan’s creativity, vision and passing ability would provide a great foil for Evra’s surging runs. Again he also seems to have a good hunger for chasing back as well. In the middle Carrick’s economy, reading and quality on the ball combines well with Fletcher’s all-action box-to-box style. I also think that, on current form, Jonny Evans is by far the better option to partner Vidic than Ferdinand..

    Van Der Saar
    Hargreaves Vidic Evans Evra
    Valencia Fletcher Carrick Obertan
    Rooney Berbatov

  13. Jezz09

    November 15, 2009 at 7:32 pm

    Let’s not forget the very promising Gabi Obertan, an absolute bargain at 3 mil and i reckon he will command the left midfield berth by christmas. Nani is never gonna live up to his 14 mil price tag and his days at united are numbered. I think fergie is hoping nani has a good season so he may be able to recoup some of that 14 million. At the moment, I dont think any top club would even be willing to take him on loan.

    • Sam Davis

      November 15, 2009 at 9:46 pm

      I’m with Jezz. Replace Nani with Mr. Obertan and we’re on our way.

  14. Tyson

    November 15, 2009 at 6:38 pm

    Once Hargreaves is fit he will be starting every match as he used to do.

    A 4-3-3 with Hargreaves in the middle is probably the formation the team will take on.

    Manchester United don’t have the best midfield in the world as they don’t have a holding midfielder. It means they suck at breaking down attacks in the midfield which is why they lose against counter attacking teams more often than not.

    With Hargreaves starting every game in the middle I’d like to see.


    Wes Brown – Ferdinand – Vidic – Evra

    Wes Brown really needs to be utilised a lot more. I like O Shea but Wes Brown is an instrumental defender as he can see things coming and break them down in their infancy.


    Carrick – Hargreaves – Fletcher

    I think the injury to Hargreaves is one of the worst things to happen to United in years.

    Hargreaves is the only holding midfielder United have and was instrumental to how they break down certain teams before he got injured.

    I think if Hargreaves starts playing again regularly it will make a huge difference and I am willing to be quoted on that. He will be starting practically every single match when he’s fit.

    Valencia – Berbatov – Rooney

    Valencia has a lot of pace and great crosses. Berbatov is great at scoring goals that shouldn’t be goals and creating chances from odd angles. Bring in Valencias mad pace and crossing ability, put in a wizard like Berbatov in the box and then pile in the fast paced, quick thinking Rooney and you are talking a real goal threat.

    I think United will shift to a 4-3-3 once Hargreaves is back.

  15. Vishnu

    November 15, 2009 at 6:08 pm

    agree 100 %, rooney cutting in from the left, and Nani on the right, ahead of a midfield trio is out most potent formation. When Hargreaves come back to form and fitness, i think he’d be a certain starter alongside carrick and fletcher, with anderson as the 2nd hald sub, scholes and giggs can be used on occasion, as can Park, and Valencia and obertan can be used as subs for the 2 wide front men. Which leaves me wondering where/when we’d ever use Owen.
    Sometimes, i think a true left footer, like Tosic, can be of use to the formation and let us play 4-4-2 with anderson and hargreaves in the centre, who i believe are the only combination in the centre of the park that have enough of an allround game to cope as a coupling, instead of operating in a trio.

  16. Tom Dixon

    November 15, 2009 at 6:04 pm

    I think you’re spot-on with your analysis, particularly of the midfield 3. I’d go so far as to say that Giggsy could slot in on the right instead of Nani. Yes, I know he’s left-footed, but he can do it all.

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