With Sir Alex Ferguson adopting an unnatural route and buying a genuine central attacking midfielder, something Manchester United have not had in ages, mostly relying on the 4-4-2, here’s a look at how the formation could be altered to fit in the former Borrusia Dortmund star:
Strengths: The attacking potential on hand would make any fan drool with excitement. A formation allowing most players up front to play in their natural positions, it would bring out the best Manchester United have to offer in front of goal.
Weaknesses: With the emphasis on attack, defensive cover, especially down the centre, would be compromised with Kagawa not a transitional box to box midfielder, leaving Carrick to cover on his own.
Probability: 6/10. The lack of defensive cover will not please Sir Alex who likes his midfield to be well drilled at covering at the back while providing the thrust upfield when in possession. Michael Carrick is also doubtful at being able to handle the sole central role, being more of a passer than a hard tackler.
Strengths: A variation of the 4-5-1 Man Utd tend to play in the UCL, it brings much needed solidity in the midfield and can be used very effectively going forward as has been shown by Germany and Real Madrid in recent times.
Weaknesses: Sir Alex has often been criticized when playing the 4-5-1 for opting to be too defensive. It also minimizes the fluidity in attack and wing play which Man United are renowned for.
Probability: 8/10. United playing to this in important UCL games does make this a probable formation. The replacement of Ryan Giggs with Kagawa in behind the striker would certainly give them more options.
Strengths: A narrow line up, this promises to bring out the best in United’s new signing, who is much used to having Mario Gotze playing alongside him in a similar way to Antonio Valencia here. Defensive cover is also not of major concern down the center with the 2 central midfielders.
Weaknesses: Down the flanks however, especially down the left, Defensive cover is lessened with Kagawa’s tendency to cut inside into ‘the hole’ leaving the left flank open to attack.
Probability: 7/10. With much of United’s play down the flanks, utilizing the pace of the wingers, Sir Alex is unlikely to go with a line up that would make the team narrow and leave them open to a quick counter.
Strengths: The calls for a new world class central midfielder have been sounded by most Manchester United fans across the globe. Could Kagawa be the one to replace Scholes? The same formation used mostly by Sir Alex the previous season, it provides versatility and solidity across the pitch. Could effectively become the 4-1-3-2 mentioned above when United have possession.
Weaknesses: With Kagawa not really known for his defensive work and ability to play in a more retreated role, it could provide the same problems as the 4-1-3-2 mentioned above, with lack of defensive cover down the center becoming apparent.
Probability: 8/10. The same formation as Sir Alex deployed for the majority of last season, we could see Kagawa featuring in a ‘Paul Scholes’ role becoming the passing hub of the team, controlling the tempo of the game. Time will tell if Sir Alex bought the Dortmund man as a long term replacement for Scholes.
Strengths: With Kagawa in his favored ‘no.10′ role and emphasis on wing play, this line up offers the most out of the current Manchester United squad. With Kagawa’s vision and Rooney’s clinical finishing, it just might prove to be the key to United getting their title back from their Manchester rivals.
Weaknesses: No apparent weaknesses at first glance. The only minor cause of concern might be Rooney no longer a traditional lone striker. The former Everton man has excelled in the ‘no.10′ role and was United primary link up player. Being played as an out and out striker might trouble him a bit, though not much with the Englishman’s touch in front of goal absolutely superb.
Probability: 9/10. The most probable of the aforementioned formations, this line up offers to get the best out of all the players on the field. If United can manage to start the upcoming season much like they did the last, Kagawa’s exceptional vision and secured touch could prove to be the key to success.
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