The Andy Gray Column: Manchester United’s Rooney, Van Persie and Kagawa diamond is a winning formation

By Mancunian Matters staff ambassador Andy Gray was talking exclusively to Mancunian Matters…

There were doubts whether Wayne Rooney, Robin van Persie and Shinji Kagawa could all play in the same team at Manchester United, but Sir Alex Ferguson might have found a solution with his new midfield diamond formation.

United tested it out against Cluj in the Champions League last week and it worked well – they dominated the ball in midfield and pressed their opponents high up the pitch, and eventually won 2-1.

It wasn’t a surprise then that Sir Alex gave the formation another go against Newcastle on Sunday, and for the most part it was a big success.

They may have only played with the formation for the first half or so before having to change it because of the way things were going with Antonio Valencia coming on, but for half an hour it looked very good.

It may be a system that Sir Alex decides to use quite a lot in the forthcoming months although it remains to be seen whether it will work against the top-class sides.

In his time at United, Sir Alex has always been a man who likes to use wide players with two out on the wings at all times whenever he can.

But because the midfield is an area where United aren’t at their strongest, and haven’t been for a long time, it may be that he goes in with a quartet like Michael Carrick, Tom Cleverley, Kagawa and Rooney, none of whom you can class as wide players.

It obviously means they lack width and will be crossing the ball into the box less, but it does narrow the midfield and as we saw against Newcastle and Cluj it encourages the players to press the opposition and win the ball back.

If Sir Alex does continue with the diamond formation, then it could be good news for Danny Welbeck and Javier Hernandez.

Not many people thought that those two would get many games for United this season outside of the cup competitions, but certainly in Danny’s case he has started a lot more than would have been expected.

However that might not have been the case for Danny had there not been so many opportunities for him.

Wayne has been out injured for most of the season so far and so has Ashley Young, while Nani seems to be out of favour at the moment.

Danny has come in and done well but the worrying thing is that he isn’t scoring, and if he’s going to keep his place when everyone comes back into contention you would think he might have to start doing that.

Wayne’s fit again but he seems to be playing deeper in midfield, Ashley is not quite ready yet and we don’t know whether Nani will come back into favour, so Danny should continue to get a regular run out for now.

If Sir Alex wants to play two up top with Wayne behind them then I would think Danny will get the nod ahead of Hernandez on current form.

Will Danny play as many games in the future as he is doing now? That’s something we will have to wait and see about.

Andy Gray is an official ambassador for – Football’s Social Network. Available now for FREE online or at the App Store;

For more on this story and many others, follow Mancunian Matters on Twitter and Facebook. 

Related Articles