The 2007-08 season was one that United fans will definitely cherish. Manchester United were not only once again the Champions of England but this was the season that Europe’s elite competition was once again conquered after a long wait of 9 years. This season was also epitomized by the entertaining attacking football that was on show at United. With Ronaldo at the height of his powers at United, ably supported by Rooney and Tevez, United had the ability to transform defence into attack in the matter of seconds. With all 3 of the above mentioned possessing the ability to take up a variety of positions, United was a handful for every defence that they came up against.
The following season saw United retain their Premier League crown but were outplayed by a better Barcelona side in the final. The subsequent transfer window saw Cristiano Ronaldo join Real Madrid for a world record transfer fee and Tevez made the move across town to Manchester City. The shift in style of United’s play can be traced all the way back here. Antonio Valencia was brought in from Wigan and Rooney took up the mantle of being the main man. Valencia has certainly turned out to be a great signing and his old fashioned robust wing play has made him a fan favourite at Old Trafford. But his addition meant that United’s attacking threat was more likely to originate from the by line than through intricate passing in the centre of the pitch.
Last season started off with a bang for United with the likes of Cleverley, Anderson, Nani, Rooney and Welbeck all full of tricks and flicks around the area and United were flying at the initial stages with goals like this a common sight-
But injuries to Cleverley and Anderson coupled with the coupled with the 6-1 drubbing at the hands of City resulted in a change back to a more conservative approach.
This season has certainly started off on a different note. With our attack bolstered by the signings of Shinji Kagawa and Robin van Persie, Sir Alex now has quite a bit of firepower at his disposal. Despite the fact that Van Persie was the Premier League golden boot winner last season, Kagawa has been the signing that has excited me the most. This is due to the fact that not only is Kagawa undoubtedly a class player, the position that he’s the most potent in is just behind the main striker. With Rooney occupying this role for the major part of last season, with Welbeck playing further forward many feared that SAF would play Kagawa in a deeper position or even on the left as he does for the Japanese national team. But our fears were unfounded with Kagawa being the only one of the attacking quartet of the 4-2-3-1 formation that United have employed to start both of the league games so far.
The transition of the team from a 4-4-2 to what looks like a 4-2-3-1 has certainly excited me. The new system has already had an effect on the style of play this season. Subtle creativity and fluid build up play have already reared their heads in both the United games and unsurprisingly Kagawa has been at the heart of it. In Kagawa’s own words, “We seem to pass the ball sideways a lot, but I want team-mates to start giving me the ball from all areas and angles. I need to speak to them about this, because I want them to have the trust in me to play the ball forward.”
It hasn’t been a perfect start to the season by Manchester United with yet another crippling defensive injury crisis having it’s say in the results. But United have shown enough in the first couple of games to excite me about the season ahead. With Robin van Persie getting off the mark at the weekend as well he should improve as he builds up his fitness and and understanding with his new team mates. Wayne Rooney is facing a spell on the sidelines with a nasty gash that he suffered against Fulham and while he is a loss to the team this could be a blessing in disguise for the Dutchman with him and Kagawa having a sustained run in the side together.
Cleverley, Scholes, Nani, Valencia, Kagawa, Young, Rooney, Van Persie, Welbeck, Hernandez, Berbatov. Premier League fans, fasten your seat belts.