Moyes must switch to a formation that benefits the players he’s signed…
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Combined, Manchester United spent £64m on Marouane Fellaini and Juan Mata during last summer and this January’s transfer windows.
Regardless of whether fans believe United overspent on the pair, or even whether they feel the club should have signed them in the first place, the least David Moyes can do is give them a chance to play in their favoured positions.
So far this term, Fellaini has been fielded in an unnatural anchoring midfield role, which quite frankly, he doesn’t have the technical ability to fulfil.
His main attributes are his excellent physicality and robust nature, and these are wasted on the job of a player who’s primary job is to retain possession in the middle of the park.
Juan Mata’s talents are even more disregarded out on the right. It’s unfairly making him look like a pretty average player, as he doesn’t posses the pace to beat his fullback. This means he has become predictable for defenders, as they know he’s going to cut inside and play a central pass.
On paper, the current Manchester United side looks pretty good, but as if we needed any more confirmation, the 0-3 home loss to Liverpool on Sunday confirmed that it simply doesn’t work…
Here’s how they currently line up…
This is the XI Moyes went with at the weekend, and frankly, it’s a case of square pegs in round holes. Carrick and Fellaini neither have the creative ability or the inclination to play intricate balls in the final third. Because Rooney is more a striker than he is an attacking midfielder, there is a noticeable gap between the midfielders and the front four.
Mata doesn’t want to track back, and neither does Januzaj, meaning Carrick and Fellaini are especially isolated against three man midfields, and often end up taking the brunt of the criticism following United defeats as a result.
Here’s they should line up to get the most out of their mega money signings…
For a number of reasons, this formation maximises the attributes of both Fellaini and Mata.
With two other midfielders alongside the Belgian, he can be given the licence to roam between the boxes. He can cause problems with his immense strength in the opposition half, while Carrick and Jones cover for him at the base of midfield.
With an extra man in the centre, Carrick’s lack of mobility is similarly less exposed. Phil Jones has proven he can do a job in the middle of the park, although next season he could drop back to centre-half while a new world-class midfielder takes his spot in this formation.
Most importantly, Juan Mata is given the pivotal creative role his talent deserves. With three men behind him, he will have virtually no defensive responsibilities, and will be able to supply Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie with threaded through-balls. In his last season at Chelsea he scored 20 goals from this position, showing he can contribute in front of goal as well as being creatively superb.
On paper, this style lacks width, and will rely on Patrice Evra and Rafael bombing down their flanks from fullback. All season though, United have tried to score from crosses into the box, and it’s rarely worked. By removing the wingers and deploying Fellaini and Mata in their proper positions, the team will find new ways to score goals – more suited to the talents and attributes of the current XI.
Lastly, with United having virtually no chance of a top four finish, each Premier League game now could be essentially be used an experiment. If it doesn’t work, so what? If Moyes persists with a style that obviously doesn’t work, his side will continue to lose both moral and matches.
Now is the time that Moyes needs to show his tactical versatility, if he’s to prove to the club’s board and its fans that he hasn’t wasted £64m…