Dez Richardson analyses last night’s action between CFR Cluj and Manchester United.
Robin Van Persie netted twice, as United come from behind to beat Cluj 2-1.
United started with Van Persie and Hernandez up top, with Rooney playing just behind. Darren Fletcher continued his return from his bowl problems in the heart of the midfield, with Cleverley and Anderson. The back four was unchanged, and De Gea came in for Lindergaard.
Cluj started with a standard 4-4-2, with Bastos just off Kapetanos. Camora, Muresan, Aquirregaray and Sougou making up the midfield. Pinto, Rada, Sepsi and captain Cadu played in defence. With Felqueiras in goal.
When I think of a Manchester United side, I instantly thing of wingers and wide midfield players. Giggs, Beckham, Ronaldo, Valencia, Nani and Young are just a few names which come to mind. Ferguson has always played a 4-4-2 or a variation of the said formation, up until 2006. Around that time, he had Tevez, Rooney and Ronaldo. This is were Ferguson started experimenting playing all three as a Trident. All three of them are very versatile, and they essentially all had free roles. This was excellent for Ferguson, and this saw his side win trophies and play some superb football to boot. It was a complete nightmare for the opposition’s back line, as they couldn’t get used to playing against one player.
Sir Alex was experimenting again last night, by playing a 4-3-1-2. This is very unusual for a Manchester United side, as they are usually well known for their width. With all respect to Cluj, I feel United thought this was the perfect opportunity to give this formation a chance.
Cluj open the scoring
Patrice Evra isn’t having the best of times in his career at the moment. His positional sense cost United a goal. Bastos, switched the play and found Sougou. His first touch was superb, and he took it perfectly in his stride. He stroked the ball across the box, for Kapetanos to finish off. It was far too easy for Cluj. Evans and Ferdinand only had one striker to pick up, and neither of them did their jobs.
Van Persie saves United
Robin’s first came from a very soft free-kick. It was abysmal defending. How on earth they let Van Persie have a free header is beyond belief. Especially when you’re playing against a side like Manchester United. You must do the basics correctly. His second was magnificent. Rooney picked the ball up on the right hand side and played a delightful ball over the channel to Van Persie. Robin finished it with the outside of his foot and that was pretty much game over.
United’s formation helped retain possession
Ferguson’s set up helped United retain possession. They had 73% of the ball, which is a fantastic statistic for a United side. Now I don’t think this is genuinely all down to United, because Cluj do play on the counter. However, this could be something we see United using in the future. I feel the only problem Ferguson would have with it, is their full backs. Evra has hit some really bad form, and I’ve heard some United fans wanting him to be replaced. Rafael has had a few decent games this season, but he looked naive defensively last season. With the three central midfielders, it’s hard to protect the full backs without wingers/wide midfielders.
It wasn’t a convincing win for United, but they got the job done. With Ferguson experimenting, we could see them implement this in the Premier League. They have plenty of options to do so. Rooney, Van Persie, Hernandez and Welbeck, to play the forward roles. Then you could have a number of people fill in the role that Rooney played. However, I feel it’ll be Rooney or Kagawa who take up this position. I heard a United fan say that maybe they’ve lost their fear factor. I think there could be something in that. With that being said, you can never underestimate a Manchester United side. No matter how strong or weak it is.