Tuesday afternoon saw a flurry of media attention around Manchester United. The Red Devils were being linked with big-money moves for Chelsea's Juan Mata and Bayern Munich's Dante. As soon as this rumour started to filter through I struggled to get my head around Manchester United's thinking.
David Moyes has been under increasing pressure with a string of poor performances and bad results since he took the Old Trafford hot seat last summer. In most fixtures he has looked to play 4-4-2/4-4-1-1 or an attempted 4-3-3 in bigger games and in Europe. There is nothing wrong with this idea because it is United’s philosophy. When you look at United teams over the years they have nearly always been forged on a solid back four, two dynamic central midfielders with wingers and a potent strike partnership.
There has been lots of talk recently about how 4-4-2 is outdated and that Manchester United will get swamped in midfield in the biggest games, I have my reservations about this idea but more importantly it questions the suggested transfers.
Should Manchester United fans dreams come true and they secure the signature of Mata the precociously talented attacking-midfielder from Chelsea, where exactly will he fit in? If Wayne Rooney and Robin Van Persie are both fit, they both must play, it is as simple as that. So two players up front, for the foreseeable future, is a near guarantee. Will Juan Mata be bought and immediately get forced out left where he is not at his best? Ideally you'd want him central and pulling the strings. Fitting all of Manchester United’s best players into a 4-4-2 would make their starting team look something like this -
Rafael – Vidic – Ferdinand – Evra
Valencia – Carrick – Cleverley – Mata
Van Persie – Rooney
I suggest that this would not solve United’s problems and help them climb the league, yes they will gain creativity, flair and a genuine star in that team, however, with Mata being an out and out attacking midfielder and Valencia who loves to fly forward, it'd leave an exposed two in the middle of the pitch with Carrick and Cleverley. Attempt to play this way in Europe, and against most sides in England, and you'd struggle and probably get overrun.
Don’t get my opinion misconstrued as I believe Juan Mata could be a sensational signing for David Moyes and really help the squad, however I feel it would have to cost one of the strikers their guaranteed first team place. This is very controversial but you have to put the best eleven players out to get three points on a consistent basis, so should this deal go ahead, I would suggest that this line-up would get more success -
Rafael – Vidic – Ferdinand – Evra
Carrick – Cleverley
I also have massive reservations about Manchester United’s apparent £30 million bid for the Brazillian centre-back Dante, currently at European champions Bayern Munich. If Manchester United are to delve into the transfer marker with an investment of that size why are they not looking for a left-back? Patrice Evra will be 33 by the end of the season, where incidentally his contract expires. United have Ferdinand and Vidic as veteran defenders but also talented youngsters like Smalling and Jones to come through with Evans in reserve, why would they need to buy another centre-back?
Manchester United need to invest wisely, not crumble under fan pressure to sign ‘marquee’ players, especially after signing Marouane Fellaini for such an inflated fee. We'll see by the start of February which way they'll go but boy does David Moyes have a job on his hands!