By Tomilayo Alapinni
October 29, 2014
After a frustrating outing last term, Manchester United fans expected better performances especially since the club has hired a more experienced manager and also expended over £150m in player transfers.
However, a serious spell of injury crises made sure that the new manager’s start to the season was marred by a couple of laboured victories sandwiched between some terrible losses.
Manchester United currently occupy the 8th position on the league table with 13 points from 9 games but a closer observation will reveal that the club had fared quite well, given the number of first team regulars that have been unavailable this term.
For instance, Michael Carrick has not featured for the club since July, vice-captain, Darren Fletcher has been struggling with form while defenders Phil Jones and Jonny Evans have been ephemeral with their fitness.
Summer signing Ander Herrera is presently recovering from his second injury spell since his arrival and just of recent captain; Wayne Rooney picked up a needless red card against West Ham and subsequently served a 3-match ban.
With all this worries, it will be ignorant to wonder why two youth team defenders have earned a first team debut, and more so, one will also understand why the Old Trafford fans were so jubilant after they secured a draw in the closing stages of their game against league leaders Chelsea.
Louis van Gaal’s fire-test will endure as he will have to face city rivals Manchester City in what might be one of the fiercest derbies in recent times.
Unlike the Chelsea game, the manager will have Wayne Rooney, Ander Herrera and Radamel Falcao available, hence to stand a chance to repel the might of the Citizens; he may have to deploy a formation similar to the one he used last weekend.
A 4-3-3 formation designed such that the players can be easily reshuffled in to a 4-5-1 look-alike will most likely suffice.
With the dynamism that Manchester City have in Yaya Toure and David Silva, Louis van Gaal should consider deploying Daley Blind, Marouane Fellaini and Ander Herrera in a 3-man midfield.
Fellaini was a sight to behold especially in the first half against The Blues when he effortlessly bossed Cesc Fabregas around and if the Belgian can replicate his composure, the Red Devils could surely use his services.
A defensive block of Fellaini and Blind will allow Herrera concentrate more on linking up play from the middle to the attacking three.
I have concentrated more on the midfield because that is where the game will be won and lost.
Again, Manchester United must ensure they reduce the space they afford the Citizens so as to get more possession rate. Except, Phil Jones or Jonny Evans make surprise returns, the back four from the last game should be retained.
If Falcao attains match fitness in time for the derby, he should be considered ahead of Robin van Persie.
It is true that Robin scored a late one in the previous game but the Dutchman squandered several other chances and when you play the English champions, you can’t afford to miss the few opportunities you get.
Angel Di Maria and Wayne Rooney can play behind the Colombian to complete a 3-prong attack.