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The 2012-2013 Manchester United Thread: Thank you, Sir Alex

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Yes, the squad today is certainly stronger but I'd take the early 90s team ahead of today's first XI (whatever that happens to be). You go back to that squad 20 years ago, after Keane signed, and you'd be looking at McClair, Sharpe, Dublin, Walsh as virtually the only senior back up I suppose.

Most of my extended family will talk about Best being the best player they've seen for United. As good a player as Duncan Edwards reputedly was, there will always be a touch of sentimentality & mythology when people talk about him now and I don't mean that disrespectfully - he wouldn't have been a flair player in the way Best was. I've had conversations with some relations who would've been lucky enough to have seen him and Steven Gerrard seems like a reasonable modern day comparison. Those guys who saw him would've been really young at the time so their description of him may be inaccurate and been distorted over the years, who knows. If Edwards had been as good as Gerrard has been for Liverpool in the 60s and early 70s then he would've been a great player for United no doubt.

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Yes, the squad today is certainly stronger but I'd take the early 90s team ahead of today's first XI (whatever that happens to be). You go back to that squad 20 years ago, after Keane signed, and you'd be looking at McClair, Sharpe, Dublin, Walsh as virtually the only senior back up I suppose.

It was definitely a more First XI plus others back then rather than now with SAF wanting a squad of roughly the same quality players. So while the first choice team might have been harder to break into, it wasn't so much in the squad if injuries took a toll. How many times over the past few years have we had major injury issues in defence or midfield and we've played players out of position rather than bringing in youth? I bet in the early 90s that wouldn't have been the case.

As for Edwards, I always remember a conversation with a cabbie I had years ago coming back from an ex. I mentioned Edwards and he went on a rant about younger United fans read all the reports about Big Duncan and while he really was that good, the other players around him were even better than is remembered. He even went to say that the best players in the team at the time was Taylor, Edwards and Violet and you could "easily" put Edwards as the third in that group and have a decent case for defending the decision.

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It was definitely a more First XI plus others back then rather than now with SAF wanting a squad of roughly the same quality players. So while the first choice team might have been harder to break into, it wasn't so much in the squad if injuries took a toll. How many times over the past few years have we had major injury issues in defence or midfield and we've played players out of position rather than bringing in youth? I bet in the early 90s that wouldn't have been the case.

As for Edwards, I always remember a conversation with a cabbie I had years ago coming back from an ex. I mentioned Edwards and he went on a rant about younger United fans read all the reports about Big Duncan and while he really was that good, the other players around him were even better than is remembered. He even went to say that the best players in the team at the time was Taylor, Edwards and Violet and you could "easily" put Edwards as the third in that group and have a decent case for defending the decision.

Well Liam Whelan is a good example of that. The fella died when he was 22 at Munich, regularly kept Charlton out of the starting XI and scored 43 goals in 79 games for the 1st team. The Busby Babes were a great side and while Edwards might've been the figurehead of it there were some other great players there that people tend to forget nowadays.

Going back 20 years ago again, Parker, Bruce, Pallister, Irwin would've played 40 games each very easily, maybe Clayton Blackmore could've filled in occasionally but injuries seem to be far more prevalent these days. The difference in the pace of the game of the game now and then is very noticeable though and I'd imagine that contributes greatly to the daft amount of injuries we see nowadays.

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In regards to Whelan, that's pretty much what he was trying to say. It was very much like a fan of a band rants about when people only mention their biggest hits even though some lesser known songs might be even better. I was being told off and entertained by the guy at the same time.

The trouble with the injuries is that footballers are far too much of a physical machine. You can't really get by on pure talent alone any more (check out Rooney when he isn't fully fit) so a drop in fitness of 10-30% can result in an injury far easier nowadays than in the past when people weren't as fit.

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That goes back to Schmeichel saying that his United team would've beat the 68 team 10-0 (or something stupid). A daft, ill-advised comment admittedly which was gleefully pounced upon by the tabloids at the time. Schmeichel had a semblance of a point though. I know I said earlier that I thought the early 90s team were better than the current XI, but you can only judge them based in the era they played. Something Schmeichel wasn't taking into account, probably deliberately in his arrogance.

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Comparing Duncan Edwards to Gerrard is a bit insulting. Gerrard can play in one position, while Edwards could play anywhere on the pitch. I think there is some mythology going on about how good he was considering what happened, but I think these people are fairly correct about his skill level too. There are just too many reports pointing in the same direction for it to be wild exaggerations. Of course, it was the TEAM that was so good, not just one or two players. But people did go on about Edwards in the contemporary era too, so it's not just a myth that has been created over time. Incredibly sad to think about all the talent that got lost that day though. :(

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I think the comparison comes from his energy and his versatility (Gerrard can play in more than one position). Gerrard has been a very good right back in the past + he can play off a lone striker, in fact he's excelled at any position he's been shoved into at Liverpool. Again, not being disrespectful to compare the two. If Edwards had gone on to captain club and country, get 100 odd caps, win a European Cup then I think United fans would've been happy with his contribution.

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Welbeck didn't say that no but there is a series of videos available where pros at the time were coaching young players now coming through here.

mkeyhc.gif:D

Interesting squad for the tour... that defence ffs. Mixed feelings really, want to be happy for Petrucci and Tunnicliffe but it's hard when in the context of dross like Vermijl and Wootton.

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Interesting squad for the tour... that defence ffs. Mixed feelings really, want to be happy for Petrucci and Tunnicliffe but it's hard when in the context of dross like Vermijl and Wootton.

I get what you are saying but dross is very harsh. Obviously I think the first two will have much better careers than the latter but it doesn't make them dross.

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Wouldn't describe Wootton as 'dross' either. Should have a decent career, wouldn't overly surprise me if he's capped at some point.

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Would expect Vidic, Evans and/or Smalling to join up during the course of the tour.

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I get what you are saying but dross is very harsh. Obviously I think the first two will have much better careers than the latter but it doesn't make them dross.

Speaking relatively obviously. Never going to make it with us.

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Daily Mail/Heil : Manchester United's pursuit of Lucas Moura hit another financial snag when it emerged that Sao Paulo's asking price could soon increase to £34m.

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Vidic and Smalling fit for the start of the season according to SAF. A definate on Vidic, should be on Smalling. Evans won't be ready though. (BBC) Let's hope Rio doesn't get injured in pre-season then!

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From Pangaea's favourite site:

Fergie says Lindegaard, Kagawa, Chicharito, Carrick, Rio, Scholes, Valencia & young duo Brady & Lingard will start in Durban tomorrow

Only 9 men, but does that see Valencia at RB and Carrick at CB with Rio?

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Daily Mail/Heil : Manchester United's pursuit of Lucas Moura hit another financial snag when it emerged that Sao Paulo's asking price could soon increase to £34m.

Not saying we are trying for him but the issue with Sao Paulo is the entire rights crap. They want a certain amount for the player but apparently only own ~ 80% of his rights so the price is higher to include the cut that goes to the 3rd party owners.

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From Pangaea's favourite site:

Fergie says Lindegaard, Kagawa, Chicharito, Carrick, Rio, Scholes, Valencia & young duo Brady & Lingard will start in Durban tomorrow

Only 9 men, but does that see Valencia at RB and Carrick at CB with Rio?

It clearly means the others are injured and these are all we can field :D

Don't see what's scary about that Rio pic btw. Don Berba as cool as ever tho :cool:

Didn't even know Evans and Smalling still had injury problems. What's up with that? Getting them in early this time?

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Interesting. Having checked out a usually reliable site, SAF wants to try Brady on left back, with Lingard ahead of him. Hope it's possible to catch the game somewhere, as it should be interesting to see how that works out.

Also saw the issues with Evans and Smalling. Evans had surgery on his ankle, while Smalling struggled for a long time with a partly torn muscle in the thigh. Evans probably won't be ready for the start of the season but Vidic and Smalling should be, but are still behind the others training-wise. Vidic did look a little thinner on the picture I posted on last page or thereabouts.

Great to finally get a match again, can't wait for the new season. Nervous about whether we can compete with City and Chelsea, but will be great to get going again. :) We've bought some players lately of course, but this is the first time for a long time I've felt we have really brough in a top class player, in Kagawa. Can't wait to see his tricks and what he can add to the team.

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Hopefully Brady can do a good job and impress at LB. I have no problem getting in Baines but if someone from our ranks, Brady or Blackett, can come in and show enough that they're capable backup I'd prefer that.

I'd like that if we're not going to sign a DM/CM type that we give chances to Tunnicliffe, Jones and Powell. Only ever seen Petrucci play on the wings or as an AM so not sure about if he can do the job there and word is Powell's natural position is as a CM not a SS/AM where he was being played. Risky but if we're going to do it then do it and not roll out Rafael in midfield.

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I really like Fryers though :( though I watch no Ressies or U18s stuff, I though Fryers really did look decent.

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Have said before that I suspect one reason why SAF doesn't seem so determined to sign a CM is that we have some fairly cracking talents in our own ranks, so maybe the holes will be filled naturally in the future. Tbh I did have Morrison and Pogba most in mind back then, but there is still some truth to this notion as we have some rather talented youths in Petrucci, Tunnicliffe, Larnell Cole, and many more a year and two younger. I do think we need somebody now rather than waiting for somebody who may never turn into the player we need, but SAF will know this gamble better than anybody else. Maybe there are similar thought regarding LB. Blackett certainly looks pretty good, although still too young, and maybe Brady can do a job there too. Getting in somebody like Baines would ease the pressure on Evra, so I'd like that especially given our lack of options. However, I also love seeing young local lads break through.

Petrucci has developed quite well so I think he can do an allright job in centre midfield. Maybe he'll get chances there this season, at least in the League Cup. Powell will train with the first team this season and they see him as a CM so he will probably be drilled for a role there. Will be interesting to see how these guys develop and whether they can with time step up to the first team and fill that huge gaping hole. It does sound like too much atm, but it's hard to know. I've seen next to nothing of Powell, bar a couple wonder goals on youtube.

However, I think it's beyond doubt that we have a lot of really good talents in the reserves and youth teams right now, so I kind of want it to be possible for them to make it here. It won't happen ofc, but if we were to somehow get in Modric and/or Martinez, it would be pretty darn hard for the soon-to-be 20 year old talents to get a chance here. Ultimately that may be why Fryers ****ed off (has it been confirmed yet btw? haven't seen anything). Pogba is a different issue, same tit of an agent as Ibra, and we see how that is panning out.....

Guess I didn't really go anywhere with this post - but I'm a little torn on the whole issue. On the one hand I want our youngsters to have a genuine chance to make it here, but on the other haned I want us to win trophies now and not just in the future, so also want to strengthen our midfield, which is sorely needed. Hopefully (if nobody else comes in) SAF has found the right balance with bringing in Kagawa for the now, and Powell for the future.

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I really like Fryers though :( though I watch no Ressies or U18s stuff, I though Fryers really did look decent.

Liked him too and thought he did well when he played for the first team last season (wobbly fishlegs that one time aside.. :D). Can't really say he stood out in the reserve matches I saw, but it's easier to notice offensive players anyway - as long as the defenders do their job, they usually don't stand out.

However, has it been confirmed yet by anybody that he has signed with Spurs?

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Still think there is a chance that Rooney is moved to CM. With Kagawa coming in and playing in Rooney's position along with rumours of buying a striker.

Even if that were to happen, still think we would need 1 extra brought in.

Looking forward to tomorrow. Heard that most of the rested players will join up for the Barcelona game.

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I thought this was tonight, ah well thats excellent news! Don't think my phone 3G tethered to my laptop would support MUTV player.

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I think Fergie talking about Brady at left back might be trying to help with negotiations for a new signing. Any selling club will know we are fairly desperate but maybe making Brady out to be a legit option there could be to counteract that.

All in all tomorrow is a great chance for people to impress and stand out, its on them to take it. I am especially happy for Jesse Lingard because last season he was brilliant, in the reserves in 20 games he got 9 goals and 10 assists which is a better return than both Petrucci and Pogba.

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That looks like a highly reliable source.

(Probably been mentioned elsewhere, mind, but not sure we are really after this kid as it doesn't really make sense given our squad holes and strenghts, and not least economy)

Edit:

More interesting news they had....

Comparing David de Gea with an Alpaca, amongst other funny-looking creatures.

http://sportwitness.ning.com/forum/topics/a-collection-of-people-animals-and-things-which-look-like-david-d

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Stop replying to Craig ffs :D

Even i (admittedly the most gullible of his victims) have learnt to ignore his posts.

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Why not? I still find it amusing :D

Besides, the comparison of DDG and an Alpaca was quite funny.

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Suarez is running his mouth about his ban, claiming United used its 'political clout' to get him banned ffs :D And he wanted to shake hands with Evra but ANOTHER UNITED CONSPIRACY LEAD TO HIM NOT REACHING FOR IT! Oh no, wait.. He did, only it was just the tv stations in Spain and Uruguay who showed it :D Apparently we also hold great sway over Sky? (Or whichever station had that game) Enough to FORCE THEM to not show Evra hiding his hand!

The man is an absolute idiot of the highest order

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He truly is.

But he's not alone though, is he?

Liverpool should play in tinfoil colours next season.

He can just go on about this for as much as he wants for all I care. It just makes him and LFC look more stupid, and show United in brighter colours.

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That looks like a highly reliable source.

(Probably been mentioned elsewhere, mind, but not sure we are really after this kid as it doesn't really make sense given our squad holes and strenghts, and not least economy)

Edit:

More interesting news they had....

Comparing David de Gea with an Alpaca, amongst other funny-looking creatures.

http://sportwitness.ning.com/forum/topics/a-collection-of-people-animals-and-things-which-look-like-david-d

The most reliable Brazilian sources are reporting it too.

Doesn't look like he's going anywhere though.

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However, has it been confirmed yet by anybody that he has signed with Spurs?

Don't think it will be confirmed for a while as it will have to go to tribunal. Not that fussed as I never thought he looked all that. Blackett looks a far better prospect.

Brady at LB just plain weird. Saw a quote that he'd played there for the ressies but I certainly don't recall it. Never had him down as anything more than an average at best winger, and his greatest strength is his technique. Don't see anything in him that screams that he'll a shout at LB. Surprised we're not giving Cleverley a go there. Hopefully because we're building the midfield around him.

Should really be looking at playing three at the back if we're resorting to sub-par reserve team wingers as fullback cover. Particularly given Evra is now nailed on for an injury after Fergie's comments :D

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Brady has a decent engine and is never going to have enough "x-factor" to make it as a winger. I'm sure it will fail but I can see the logic behind it.

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I like Brady, not the most outstanding at any one particular thing but that hasn't stopped people making it here before. If he can prove to be versatile in a number of positions then Fergie will love that.

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Don't think it will be confirmed for a while as it will have to go to tribunal. Not that fussed as I never thought he looked all that. Blackett looks a far better prospect.

Brady at LB just plain weird. Saw a quote that he'd played there for the ressies but I certainly don't recall it. Never had him down as anything more than an average at best winger, and his greatest strength is his technique. Don't see anything in him that screams that he'll a shout at LB. Surprised we're not giving Cleverley a go there. Hopefully because we're building the midfield around him.

Should really be looking at playing three at the back if we're resorting to sub-par reserve team wingers as fullback cover. Particularly given Evra is now nailed on for an injury after Fergie's comments :D

I was just thinking about how didn't Cleverley start off as a RB/LB option and then get slowly moved upfield through his youth career?

3-man defence wouldn't work with the number of teams playing 4-3-3/4-5-1 nowadays. The number of 2 striker formations wouldn't offset the issue of having a majority of games with at least one defender doing naff all against a striker that might not get a kick of the ball.

However, I'm not against playing with a more defensive minded back line so that even if we have to use a midfielder in there, there's no real marauding runs. Alternating Rafael and Evra as the attacking full-back with a more defensive minded player on the other side might actually balance out the team even if we end up playing 4-4-2. A lot of our issues in defence are coming from the fact we're essentially playing two wing-backs (Rafael AND Evra) who bomb forward, aren't checking their runs much and no Busquets-esque player dropping back to help the defence. If we're not going to use a real defensive midfielder and stick with just a ball winner then one of the wide backs need to learn how to bloody defend properly.

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I was just thinking about how didn't Cleverley start off as a RB/LB option and then get slowly moved upfield through his youth career?

Yeah, started there due to his 'engine', but moved forward once his passing ability and tactical intelligence shone through.

3-man defence wouldn't work with the number of teams playing 4-3-3/4-5-1 nowadays. The number of 2 striker formations wouldn't offset the issue of having a majority of games with at least one defender doing naff all against a striker that might not get a kick of the ball.

However, I'm not against playing with a more defensive minded back line so that even if we have to use a midfielder in there, there's no real marauding runs. Alternating Rafael and Evra as the attacking full-back with a more defensive minded player on the other side might actually balance out the team even if we end up playing 4-4-2. A lot of our issues in defence are coming from the fact we're essentially playing two wing-backs (Rafael AND Evra) who bomb forward, aren't checking their runs much and no Busquets-esque player dropping back to help the defence. If we're not going to use a real defensive midfielder and stick with just a ball winner then one of the wide backs need to learn how to bloody defend properly.

Don't think playing against a lone striker is an issue if you've got centre halves who can step forward to make it a de facto back 2/4. Wigan certainly seemed to cope at the end of last season. Regardless, I'm something of a believer in starting with your strengths - at the moment we've got 5 top centre halves, three of whom could start for any team in the league. But of those five, one is in the twilight of his career, one is recovering from a serious injury and two are very raw. By playing three of them you can better cover Rio's declining pace and Vidic's convalescence, while providing better cover for the inevitable mistakes that Smalling and Jones will make at this stage in their development. Rio and Evans are adept at stepping forward to start attacks, while Jones and Smalling excel at driving foward, laying the ball off, and going again, so I think that would take care of any concerns about playing teams with one up top. Carrick could also be deployed in such instances, similar to how he was in the 2010 League Cup final.

Moving further forward, we're down to two genuine fullbacks, both of whom have question marks over their concentration and positioning, while the midfield needs to supply more cover for the defence but seems ill-equipped to do so. Playing three at the back gives extra cover for wide areas, particularly given Smalling, Jones and Evans' experience at fullback, while having a libero with license to step forward will relieve pressure on the midfield. Valencia and Cleverley are better suited to covering these wide positions, and will be less exposed to being taken advantage of by better wingers with more defensive security behind them. Even Brady could be easier assimilated.

In attack, a major concern is losing attacking width with your wingers starting deeper. Wigan seem to have addressed this by deploying Moses in a nominally deep position with a license to roam into the channels to provide that width - a role that Young, Nani and presumably Kagawa seem well suited to. Possibly Rooney too. Additionally, Rooney, Welbeck, Macheda and to a lesser extent Hernandez all have experience playing out wide, so they could also drift into the channels, with the 'hole' player stepping forward. Ideally you'd have a fluid interchanging front three. This would prevent us from having a lone, isolated attacker as often happens when we play 4-3-3/4-5-1/4-4-1-1.

Not embarking upon a meithesque 'death to 4-4-2' campaign, but I think when you look at our squad our strengths lie in quality centre halves and fluid forwards, while or weaknesses are at fullback and defensive mid. This system can address all areas, and has been successful in the Prem, so I think it's worth looking at.

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Don't think playing against a lone striker is an issue if you've got centre halves who can step forward to make it a de facto back 2/4. Wigan certainly seemed to cope at the end of last season. Regardless, I'm something of a believer in starting with your strengths - at the moment we've got 5 top centre halves, three of whom could start for any team in the league. But of those five, one is in the twilight of his career, one is recovering from a serious injury and two are very raw. By playing three of them you can better cover Rio's declining pace and Vidic's convalescence, while providing better cover for the inevitable mistakes that Smalling and Jones will make at this stage in their development. Rio and Evans are adept at stepping forward to start attacks, while Jones and Smalling excel at driving foward, laying the ball off, and going again, so I think that would take care of any concerns about playing teams with one up top. Carrick could also be deployed in such instances, similar to how he was in the 2010 League Cup final.

Here's where I start to disagree with you/see a weakness in what you're saying. While Rio in his younger days was excellent in stepping forward, he has massively cut that out of his game in recent years and I think if he was to go back into doing that more often it would cause a bigger drop off in his form than he is already happening. Evans and Jones can certainly do it but both are relatively raw defensively. Evans is just getting into his groove and I would hate to see him rushed into doing this (rather than it happening naturally when he is feeling in good form) so that, in my opinion, really only leaves Jones as a driving force from defence on a consistent basis. Although I do concede that Smalling's play at RB might allow for his to be an alternative.

As for Carrick, are you talking about using him the way Italy used De Rossi vs Spain in their group game?

Moving further forward, we're down to two genuine fullbacks, both of whom have question marks over their concentration and positioning, while the midfield needs to supply more cover for the defence but seems ill-equipped to do so. Playing three at the back gives extra cover for wide areas, particularly given Smalling, Jones and Evans' experience at fullback, while having a libero with license to step forward will relieve pressure on the midfield. Valencia and Cleverley are better suited to covering these wide positions, and will be less exposed to being taken advantage of by better wingers with more defensive security behind them. Even Brady could be easier assimilated.

I agree that Valencia as a wing-back would be much better than him as a full-back and with Cleverley's past experience (as you mentioned) he could cover for both wide roles. However where does that leave the centre of midfield if Carrick is being used deeper and Cleverley in a wing-back slot? Anderson + Scholes/Giggs? We would have to draft in the youngsters almost immediately to compensate and I can see many games where the midfield is overloaded by the opposition with the game between our midfield and defence being even more open to the counter attack. If there was a Carrick AND Martinez type player in there who is comfortable operating as the dual ball-winners/passers role then this might not be an issue.

In attack, a major concern is losing attacking width with your wingers starting deeper. Wigan seem to have addressed this by deploying Moses in a nominally deep position with a license to roam into the channels to provide that width - a role that Young, Nani and presumably Kagawa seem well suited to. Possibly Rooney too. Additionally, Rooney, Welbeck, Macheda and to a lesser extent Hernandez all have experience playing out wide, so they could also drift into the channels, with the 'hole' player stepping forward. Ideally you'd have a fluid interchanging front three. This would prevent us from having a lone, isolated attacker as often happens when we play 4-3-3/4-5-1/4-4-1-1.

I agree with you here except for the Hernandez option. His game would really need to step up if he was used in a front three as his weaknesses have been shown in games that we haven't been able to get the ball to him in dangerous situations. Unless he is playing his A-game, he is our version of Inzaghi and leaves us with 10-men on the pitch.

However...my biggest issue with the wing-back system you're suggesting is certainly the libero and the central midfield. Valencia would certainly work in it and, with the exception of Hernandez, I actually think our attackers suit a 3-man front line more than the 4-4-2 system.

Not embarking upon a meithesque 'death to 4-4-2' campaign, but I think when you look at our squad our strengths lie in quality centre halves and fluid forwards, while or weaknesses are at fullback and defensive mid. This system can address all areas, and has been successful in the Prem, so I think it's worth looking at.

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If you're planning on playing a 3-5-2 with a libero, it's probably best to play:

------------------De Gea----------------

------------Rio----Jones----Vidic--------

Valencia--Carrick-Scholes-Cleverley--Evra

-------------Rooney---Welbeck----------

Something like that. Central midfield is easily the weakest point, though Scholes could possibly pull off a Pirlo if he had two mobile midfielders next to him.

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Here's where I start to disagree with you/see a weakness in what you're saying. While Rio in his younger days was excellent in stepping forward, he has massively cut that out of his game in recent years and I think if he was to go back into doing that more often it would cause a bigger drop off in his form than he is already happening. Evans and Jones can certainly do it but both are relatively raw defensively. Evans is just getting into his groove and I would hate to see him rushed into doing this (rather than it happening naturally when he is feeling in good form) so that, in my opinion, really only leaves Jones as a driving force from defence on a consistent basis. Although I do concede that Smalling's play at RB might allow for his to be an alternative.

I don't think Rio has cut it out as much as you're suggesting, he just tends to stop at the halfway line now. Both him and Evans already do that when playing in a two man central partnership - I think in a three they would have more security or confidence to do so, particularly when against only one centre forward.

As for Carrick, are you talking about using him the way Italy used De Rossi vs Spain in their group game?

Similar, yeah, or as how Busquets has been deployed at times by Barca.

I agree that Valencia as a wing-back would be much better than him as a full-back and with Cleverley's past experience (as you mentioned) he could cover for both wide roles. However where does that leave the centre of midfield if Carrick is being used deeper and Cleverley in a wing-back slot? Anderson + Scholes/Giggs? We would have to draft in the youngsters almost immediately to compensate and I can see many games where the midfield is overloaded by the opposition with the game between our midfield and defence being even more open to the counter attack. If there was a Carrick AND Martinez type player in there who is comfortable operating as the dual ball-winners/passers role then this might not be an issue.

Would be an either/or with Carrick and Cleverley. Carrick would play centre mid most of the time - my suggestion of him at centre half was mainly to use against weaker sides playing one up top, while Cleverley would also primarily be central, but available to cover Evra's wide left position.

I agree with you here except for the Hernandez option. His game would really need to step up if he was used in a front three as his weaknesses have been shown in games that we haven't been able to get the ball to him in dangerous situations. Unless he is playing his A-game, he is our version of Inzaghi and leaves us with 10-men on the pitch.

Again I think this style would help Hernandez - with more numbers in central attacking areas there's a greater opportunity to work the ball through to him, rather than it being an earlier ball into the channel or behind the defence where the margins for error are smaller and Hernandez therefore has to play more fast and loose with his line. By working the ball forward he should be able to focus on movement inside the box rather than across the defensive line, and having one or two players with him in support he'll get more space from defenders having more players to mark. Also, if he is having one of his Inzaghi days, at least there are still other attacking focal points for us to work with, rather than being left 4-4-1-0.

Lep, I think the issue with the conventional 3-5-2 as you describe is the wide areas as I mentioned earlier. With your system you're left with either little defensive width as the opposition wingers get in behind Valencia and Evra or little attacking width as they're pinned back. This can leave your midfield disrupted as they instinctively try and fill the gaps. That's why most teams playing a back three seem to go 3-4-1-2 or 3-4-2-1 these days, to allow the man/men in the third line to break into wide areas.

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I'm not sure we've got the tactical expertise in the coaching side to pull the 3-5-2 off. While I can see why the squad looks well suited to it, they've been drilled to play a back 4 for virtually their entire careers. Disrupting that might be worth it in the long run (or maybe someone like Carlos Queiroz could make it work in the short term) but I can see it beging a bit farcical in the short term. I'm not sure I'd trust Phelan or Ferguson to oversee that kind of reorganisation, Phelan because he's Phelan and Ferguson because he's always better at stealing what's already been done and improving on it rather than being a genuine innovator. Investing in defensive midfield and fullback may be a safer way of addressing the problem rather than a full tactical overhaul, the latter would certainly be cheaper of course.

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I don't think Rio has cut it out as much as you're suggesting, he just tends to stop at the halfway line now. Both him and Evans already do that when playing in a two man central partnership - I think in a three they would have more security or confidence to do so, particularly when against only one centre forward.

Perhaps. So in essence Rio and Evans could become a double Libero? That would certainly be an interesting tactic.

Would be an either/or with Carrick and Cleverley. Carrick would play centre mid most of the time - my suggestion of him at centre half was mainly to use against weaker sides playing one up top, while Cleverley would also primarily be central, but available to cover Evra's wide left position.

Fair enough.

Again I think this style would help Hernandez - with more numbers in central attacking areas there's a greater opportunity to work the ball through to him, rather than it being an earlier ball into the channel or behind the defence where the margins for error are smaller and Hernandez therefore has to play more fast and loose with his line. By working the ball forward he should be able to focus on movement inside the box rather than across the defensive line, and having one or two players with him in support he'll get more space from defenders having more players to mark. Also, if he is having one of his Inzaghi days, at least there are still other attacking focal points for us to work with, rather than being left 4-4-1-0.

The only way I see that of working is keeping him as the focal point with Rooney/Young/Nani/Welbeck alternating the wings and cutting in to try and force his involvement. On a good day it works but I'm not too sure about his ability at being able to play wide to let Rooney or Welbeck be a more dynamic option in the centre.

On a side note with Hernandez. I can actually see him not lasting at United (more than five years) if he doesn't start to improve his overall game. We're almost getting back to the van Nistelrooy situation where we've got a good/great goalscorer who "does little else". Which is fine in a system that can handle it but not so good for the fluidity of attack SAF keeps going back to. I'd say we've had four real poachers over the last twenty years in Cole, van Nist, Forlan and Hernandez. Cole developed his all round game, we didn't win the league with RvN, Forlan needed to go elsewhere to improve and now Hernandez. I can certainly see Welbeck slowly pushing him down the pecking order in the next few seasons if Welbeck continues his current development.

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An interesting discussion, but I agree with dion. This isn't going to happen. We've played with four at the back "forever", changing that around now would be detrimental to our results in the short term, and SAF is only staying in the short term. It's not going to happen with him in charge. The man is 70. Would rather get off to a good start with more or less our current system than spend 7-8 months to get it to work.

Also agree Hernandez needs to develop his overall game, especially technique. If he can't learn to control the ball better and be more use to the team than tipping in balls in the 5-yard box, I don't see a great future for him here - unfortunately. Hopefully the arrival of Kagawa will give him more room to work in and more support, because when he is up there running to and fro by himself he gets too isolated and doesn't have the technique of Berba or strength of Rooney to wait for support. Great player of course, but there is a certain risk he may fall into a Berba-esque category of "great player, but not right for us now".

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Hernandez will spend a long time here, just remember he hasn't had a pre-season break in a long time. That caught up with him last season but he still came up with the goods when others weren't at important times. He is our new Solskjaer, not in playing style but in squad role and that kind of player is extremely helpful to the cause. He will improve anyway in other areas to his strengths over time.

With Welbeck, Rooney, Hernandez and Kagawa you have variety and something for all occasions. Its about working out the best way to use them which we haven't done yet even without Kagawa.

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No Kagawa in the starting line up tonight.

#MUFC XI: L'gard / Veseli, Wootton, Ferdinand, Brady / Carrick, Scholes, Lingard / Berba behind Chicho & Macheda #MUTour LIVE ON #mutv

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