Andy Dawber asks nicely. Put players in their positions Louis please… Please…
The first line of the song I’m referencing in the title goes ‘well I don’t know why I came here tonight’. And that must be a feeling reflected amongst the masses at Old Trafford after Saturday night’s 1-0 scrape through against lowly League 1 opposition Sheffield United. Behind United’s cure for insomnia seems to be one big issue, the lack of right players in right positions in attacking areas.
It’s very apparent that Juan Mata and Anthony Martial are not natural wingers. They will on occasion do a job in those areas because of their talent but we are not utilising them correctly. It is universally accepted that Mata is a number 10, or central attacking midfielder (name of the role varying based on your generation), yet due to a couple of disappointing performances in his audition for this role, the two-time player of the year at Chelsea has been bumped off to provide an ineffective role on the right.
Anthony Martial is far from the finished article, he’s young, raw and inconsistent in front of goal. However, with the options United have available currently, he should be given more game time up front. Not only is he quick & willing to take on a man but his hold up play as a centre forward has been a surprising & welcome bonus. With 8 goals in all competition this season, it’s proved when you play Martial in his natural position, more often than not he will score.
I said on last week’s podcast (available at youtube.com/wefollowunited – sorry for the plug) that Ashley Young should be given more time further up the pitch for United. A natural winger, currently being misused as a wing back due to poor planning in the depth of United’s squad. Young’s end product has quite rightly come into question in the past but against Swansea, when given license to roam forward, he provided 2 or 3 excellent deliveries to create chances, before eventually assisting Martial’s opener.
Sometimes football is treated like rocket science, when in fact it should be treated as it is; the simple game. Introduce pace to the wings, get players to the byline, whipping crosses in, with your centre forward and attacking midfielders attacking the ball, and your central midfielders backing up at the edge of the area to pick up any knock downs.
Going forward, I would like to see a midfield two of Schneiderlin & Herrera, a new winger (someone like Mahrez or Mane could do that job), with Mata or Rooney in the number 10 role, depending on who’s in better form. I would then have one of Young, Memphis or even youngsters like Januzaj, Lingard & Pereira pushing for game time on the other wing. Martial would be pushed up front with the option to move Rooney there too, and bring in a new centre forward as soon as possible.
Let’s see round pegs in round holes, and with the introduction of players into their natural positions I believe will come the ability to move the ball quicker across the front, losing the disjointed feel it has currently. Can Van Gaal see the bigger picture before he’s out of the picture? The coming weeks will give us a very clear indication.