Earthquakes. Floods. Riots. China. Anwar. Hong Kong. Recession.
Well, we got better headlines than that and its called 4-2-3-1
That actually refers to Manchester United’s current formation when playing with their best team.
Forwards : Rashford, Martial, Greenwood, Fernandes.
Midfield : Matic, Pogba.
Defense: Wan-Bissaka (maybe he’s secretly from Trengganu), Maguire, Luke Shaw.
Goalie : de Gea.
Other options : Attacking – Daniel James.
All the names in bold are world class footballers, meaning that they can walk into any first team around. Man United now has 6 world class footballers, and I think that was more than the late 90s, when they had maybe 3 or 4 world class footballers but a massive winning mentality.
Credit to Solskjaer for turning things around in about 16 months. It is quite hard to believe that as recent as December 2018, Old Trafford was home to boring, negative football courtesy of the Special One. However, once Ole came in, he was determined to play all out counter attacking football. When he first took over from Mourinho, he managed to win his first 10 games in a row; however, the demands for all out attacking football as well as tactical naivety, a messed up dressing room with Lukaku, the £500k per week man Sanchez (who was never fit) and Pogba exerting negative influences soon led to a massive rot in form, culminating in the 4 – 0 thrashing United received at Everton in April of last year. This was followed with equally disastrous performances, including Burnley’s 2 – 0 victory over United at Old Trafford.
Things have definitely changed since the arrival of Bruno Fernandes in the winter break. Man United now play much more attacking football, and are able to pass the ball up to their forwards quickly. Previously, some people have argued that Pogba was alone in being a world class midfielder as he was playing alongside Fred, Lingard or Matic, and had to do cover both defensive and attacking roles. And Lingard did not really offer any attacking option apart from his goal at Arsenal a year back.
But this will still be considered a “work in progress” team except for the smart addition of Aaron Wan-Bissaka in the summer. This guy covers so much ground as right back and shuts down that flank. That provided Man United some defensive steel when they used to leak goals. I still am not convinced that Macguire offers the same kind of end product as Virgil Van Dyk, but some say he was bought to provide the leadership that Roy Keane used to produce.
The masterpiece was the addition of Bruno Fernandes. The deal got done after Man United fans got so fed up with their board that they started vandalizing some of the board member’s houses. Well, given his immediate impact he has had on the team – some may argue that this should have been done earlier (the vandalizing or the signing?) .
With Bruno Fernandes in the team, Man United finally have a player who can create chances for their forwards. Previously this role was completely void – Lingard always disappointed when he played. With Fernandes in the team, he not only creates chances for his team mates – he actually can get on the score sheet as well. Gone are the days when Rashford was the preferred free kick taker and people tuned away when he lined up to take the shot. Fernandes can actually score from a dead ball. And what makes Bruno Fernandes the ideal example of “the thing you should have done a year ago” was the effect he has had on the players around him, namely reminding us what a world class talent Anthony Martial is. Martial has already scored 20 goals this season, and quite a number of them were goals out of nowhere – worldies as they call it. He is perhaps just one or two seasons away from being marked as the kind of strikers defenders fear like Salah was for Liverpool and Vardy is for Leicester.
While this is itself exciting, what makes things really special is that 18 year old kid – Mason Greenwood. Now a lot was talked about how Mason Greenwood was tearing things up in the reserves, but the question always that it is well good and beating kids but how was he going to stack up against seasoned Premier League defenders?
The answer was evident in the 2 goals he scored recently against Bournemouth. Bournemouth had taken the lead but Greenwood scored a sensational goal to tie the match. His movement is fantastic as he can run with the ball at pace and unleash a shot on goal – qualities that Rashford can’t produce at the same time. Credit to the manager as Solskjaer avoided overusing him as he did to Daniel James, who perhaps is now thinking whether he will have a chance to have a run in the team.
With United’s sensational recent form, they are in with a chance to make something out of a season many fans were quite willing to write off as late as in early January. They are only 3 points off the top 3, and play both Chelsea and Leicester on the final day, with Champions League qualification well within their reach. They are also 2 matches away from winning the FA Cup, a feat that was emulated by the man himself – Sir Alex. Many are probably looking forward for a great Man United – Liverpool curtain raiser for the charity shield next season. Well its been a lemon of a year outside of football, with the virus and riots and all stuff like that, but with the team they currently have, Man Untied fans can enjoy a cool lemonade as they savour some scintillating football.