Finally, a plan B



Wayne Rooney’s injury at the tail end of last season rendered Manchester United’s attack became predictable, slow and lethargic. Sir Alex Ferguson first tried playing Dimitar Berbatov up front by himself – a strategy that failed miserably against Chelsea – and then partnered Federico Macheda with the Bulgarian only to discover the pair worked even less.

As United limped over the finish line with defeat to Chelsea and a draw against Blackburn, Ferguson’s side surrendered the title because the team possessed no plan B in attack. That might just be changing…

In Sunday’s Community Shield at Wembley Ferguson picked Rooney alongside Michael Owen in a traditional 4-4-2 formation, intending to attack Chelsea from the start. Although Rooney was better than throughout the World Cup in South Africa, the Scouser is clearly not yet 100 per cent match fit. Meanwhile, Owen looked out of position playing deeper than his striker partner.

In the second period Fergie opted to test out a new strike partnership in Berbatov and the Mexican revelation Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernández, as he had done in Ireland last week. Immediately there seemed an understanding between the pair.

Berbatov’s deft flicks and touches were laid off right into the path of Chicharito, whose movement was excellent. Rooney asked John Terry some searching questions in the first half but that was nothing compared to the fits Chicharito had the Chelsea back line in. The Mexican timed his runs to perfection, got into good goal scoring positions and most impressively, he connected with United misfit Berbatov.

Playing alongside the youngster, Berbatov had at last a smile on his face, clearly enjoyed the football and looked more confident than he has in a long time. With Chicharito making runs beyond Berbatov and picking up the ball from the Bulgarian in advanced positions, the Mexican forced the Chelsea defenders deeper, leaving a hole in front of the back four in which the Bulgarian striker could operate.

More than once Berbatov found himself with the space required to work his magic, orchestrating United’s attacks and popping up with a very well taken goal in injury time.

The combination also helped create the space in the middle of the park United so often lacked last season. But this potentially dangerous partnership of Berbatov and Chicharito also brings back the perennial tactical question: 4-4-2 or 4-5-1?

Clearly, Rooney will start for United when fit and the former Evertonian was most effective last season playing the lone striker. So much so that it is doubtful whether Ferguson will make any significant switch away from this formation in the most important matches, especially away from home.

However the blossoming Berbatov – Chicharito combination gives Sir Alex a second potent attacking threat. Significantly, it means Fergie may not have to run Rooney into the ground as the Scot did last season, resulting in the injury at Bayern Munich and the far too rapid return to action.

In reality Ferguson will almost certainly switch between formations depending on United’s opponents as he did for much of last season. The difference is that United now offers more variation going forward.

Finally, United has the plan B that was clearly missing coming down the stretch last season.

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Comments

  1. I believe if Chica-Berba partnership gets better and better with time as I’m expecting it to,then this would give Fergie a healthy headache because he will have more than one option at his disposal.

    Either he can play Rooney upfront on his own in a 4-5-1.This would be useful particularly in the big games.

    Or he can play Chica and Berba upfront in a 4-4-2 whenever Rooney is out injured.

    In other games,I’d like to see how Rooney and Chica gel.Because if they are able to combine really well then hey,that’s another ace up our cleeve !

  2. Plñay Rooney in Scholes’ position – attacking midfielder. Rooney and Fletcher in midfield, that’s what he should do.

  3. stop calling him chica! It means little girl in his language. It’s like if your name was cunnington and they called you cunt. though that nickname may suit you, little girl does fit our new striker.

  4. redevil_83 says:

    excellent analysis. i agree, i did not have such perspective. berba + chicarito could work well as plan B indeed.

    i’m more looking for a plan B in mid fld…in the matches where we don’t have the magic of scholes as CM, who will provide creativity? would like to see cleverly and the forgotten man anderson given some chances there. could work wonders (if we don’t get ozil). VAMOS YOU RED DEVILS!

  5. Don Pablo says:

    Best bit about this piece is the realisation that Hernandez pulls defenders deep leaving Berba with space to work his magic. Brilliant

  6. Not Only a plan B but a plan c also as Javier can play on his own up front and still scare the crap out of the opposition.

  7. Chicharito should be known as the cheetah cause he no doubt just as quick, wow a deadly weapon to have. Javier-Berba will be a brilliant partnership and hopefully we get see more of Owen-Wazza together, Kiko be a great impact player and bang the title be coming home to Old Trafford. Im quite expecting Javier-Wazza to knock 20+ with Owen-Berba 15+ and Kiko 10, if we can get at least 70 goals from our front line i be thrilled, no reason shouldnt as can be just as good as Cole-Yorke-Teddy-Ole if not better.

  8. for me we look good enough to win back the championship as we are the only team which has not lost any players.thus overall we have a better squad than chelsea,liverpool,arsenal.only team to boast a better squad(not a team) are city.i was just looking through the city squad members and couldn’t stop laughing.their probable squad at the end of transfer window might be-
    gk: given hart
    def:boateng richards bridge kolarov toure kompany lescott
    def mid: yaya barry dejong vieira
    att mid: silva milner ireland johnson
    att: tevez adebayor bellamy santacruz balotelli
    not even considered: robinho jo weiss caicedo zabaleta onuoha w.phillips plus any youth players
    out of the above draft one can make 2 starting 11′s capable of a top 4 finish.i can’t quite understand how mancini’s gonna manage this mess!!!i’m counting days till mancini is sacked..even SAF or mourinho wouldn’t be able to sort this..lol

  9. danniitronix says:

    There was always a plan B, dare I say it a plan C – it was Mecheda, Welbeck and Dioup, who I’m sure are going to be really thrilled at Chic coming in and bagging the extra berth.

    Fergus we know is a stubborn pig and were he to have had the bollocks to drop Berba and play one of the above, so as to give them game time then yes Chic may not have happened.

    One reason why Chic is doing well is because is a regulary first teamer and an international, the other 3 above simply will not get a chance with Midget Owen in the first four too.

    Anything that gets us goals is great but we always had other options, its just that Fergus refused to use them because he has no confidence in them.

  10. captainhormone captainhormone says:

    She said I love you boy I love you soul,
    She said I love you baby oh-oh-oh-oh-oh,

  11. Yep we could be back to the 2 small forwards of excellent movement and pace like we had with Rooney and Tevez. With those two we won the league and champions league. Add Berbatov into the mix there are lots of options to confuse the oppo! Viva Hernandez!

  12. danniitronix says:

    don’t remind us that we lost Tevez …

    apparently he doesn’t speak to Mancunty

  13. Hernandez and Berbatov are not a plan B, but a plan A. I pointed out in posts 2 – 3 days ago in various forums, where you presumably picked up on the bulk of the content for your article, that Hernandez combined beautifully with Berbatov in a way that Rooney never has. Chicharito offers the kind of intelligence, poise, and skill that reflects the kind of player the Bulgarian is, the major difference between the two being Hernandez’s blinding pace and his joyous approach to the game. Berbatov’s exquisite touch, and his ability to hold the ball against 2 – 3 defenders, marks out his own area of distinctiveness against the boy.

    They read each other exceptionally well for such a new and disparate pairing, with the Mexican instinctively knowing and trusting in Berba’s ability to find and set him up, and more importantly knowing how to complement Berba in the same way. I haven’t seen the Bulgarian enjoy himself so much since he first put on a United shirt. He finally has someone up front who understands his gifts in a way a lummox like Rooney never has.

    Rooney is the most overrated player by far in English football, with people mistaking his pace, work rate and mongrel attitude for class, the epitome of the English Bulldog spirit. Yet throughout virtually his entire career he’s proven a lousy match up to virtually every strike partner he’s ever had, and if anyone ever bothered to notice they’d realize his skill level is very poor, his shot making hurried, woefully inaccurate, and lacking in thought, added to which he’s generally the number one culprits for breaking down attacks with ridiculous and inaccurate passing or by allowing himself to be readily dispossessed by the opposition. Do I also need to mention how often he hands the ball back in dangerous situations when he tracks back so ‘nobly’ to help out the defense – remember last year when he conceded a goal in such a manner? Above all he’s a player who has to be spoon fed by all around him, gives back next to nothing by virtue of his limitations, and essentially lessens the effectiveness of those around him. Berbatov is the anti-Rooney by comparison, in that he, like all great players, makes those around him better – look what he did for Keane, and how poorly Keane has done since their partnership was broken up.

    It’s still early days, but if the Berbatov/Hernandez partnership blossoms as it appears it will I have no problem envisaging Rooney being dropped to the bench or being pushed out wide to accommodate them. That or he could be pushed to a specialist role as the sole striker in 4-5-1 formations, for which I still think he’s largely unsuited against quality central defenders who know how to isolate and frustrate him.

    To correct the ongoing notion of the 4-5-1 and Berbatov’s part in it, the formation is a tactical one for which the Bulgarian has had to suffer the ignominity of constantly being dropped to accommodate it. The failings and limitations of the midfield, particularly players like Carrick, have increasingly forced Fergie to play the formation in order to make up in numbers what the engine room lacks in class, meaning one of the strikers had to be dropped. Even though Berba’s probably better suited to the role because of his size, skill, and strength against defenders, Rooney’s work rate and speed have been the preferred option, even though his lack of football ‘smarts’ and diminutive stature leave him looking like a passenger in most games against quality opposition.

    People like to highlight, particularly because it came at a crucial point of the season, how Berba ‘failed’ when asked to step up in Rooney’s absence at the tail end of the season. Rubbish. Firstly, how is a player with is skill set supposed to maintain an edge to his game when he’s constantly being dropped to the bench for reasons outside his control – and particularly when the media and ignorant fans keep carping on the supposed reasons for his demotion? Secondly his goals to minutes played last season were fine, and none of that takes into account his assists or the way he opens up the field for others through his play and ability to hold on to the ball under pressure. Finally, those who went on about his misses weren’t bothering to actually see how difficult the chances were – the missed header comes to mind, as does the supposed missed chance that went over the bar, when anyone bothering to pay attention would have seen that the ball was played a little too forward and that the only way the Bulgarian could have latched on to it in time would have been to break early and stray offside.

    Finally to Ian. You obviously don’t know a thing about football if you think Rooney should be played as an attacking midfielder. He certainly has the industry for it, but that’s about it. An attacking footballer of the Scholes type needs to have intelligence, perception, poise, and the rare ability to seemingly have all the time in the world to make the right decision with the ball at his feet. Equally as important is the skill to be able to deliver a pass with pinpoint accuracy and immaculate timing. These are all qualities thoroughly lacking in Rooney’s game, even when the law of averages work in his favour occasionally and allow him to pull off a nice pass like the one he delivered to Valencia on Sunday. Rooney is a football leach, a parasitic out and out striker, not a provider.

    • @timbo – get off the high horse! Nobody is stealing your ideas for articles – you don’t have a monopoly on thinking about United. I can’t speak for Sam but I certainly don’t spend my days trawling United forums, which are mostly full of naval gazing idiots and ‘writers’ who couldn’t get a GCSE in English if it was completed for them. But of course if you think you can write you can always take part in the Rant writing competition.

      As for the bulk of your comment – you seriously want to push 34 goal Wayne Rooney out wide or to the bench on the basis of 45 minutes at Wembley? Makes a mockery of anything you had to say that was less moronic.

      • This guy is right about Rooney being slightly over rated. Not to the etent that he sthe most overrated player in the world or whatever, theres always ashley young for that. But his work rate is very often mistaken for skill. Hes not Drogba or Torres who has that perfect combination of pace, strength and unbelievable finishing ability.
        Berba and Chicarito are going to be immense for us when played together.
        We shouldnt sell Rooney by a long mile as despite being slightly over rated he is still one of the best players in the world. But the Berba-Hernandez partnership should be seen as better than Rooney up front by himself because a five man midfield does not work when we dont have 5 world class defenders like barca.

  14. captain-fletcher says:

    How about plan x involving the wags?

  15. Hernandez looking a steal and we can get 10 years out of him too.

  16. captainhormone captainhormone says:

    Timbo..you are an utter utter twat…….ffs…..

  17. Alfonso Bedoya Alfonso Bedoya says:

    Timbo…

    I’m in awe of your superior intellect, and football knowledge, considering how you, and only you have recognised that Rooney is over rated? Do I ever feel stupid now. All these years I’ve been wrong… and not only me, but Ferguson, Capello, Hanson, Moyes, and just about every footbal manager, pundit, so called expert on the game. How the hell did these retards get their jobs when they’re obviously so full of shit?

    Thank fuck someone finally had the vision and courage to spot the truth and bring it to light. And not only that, but also to point out that… how did you put it?… “Rooney is a football leach, a parasitic out and out striker, not a provider.”?

    Right? Yeah, good one that… And here was me thinking that was an accruate description of Ruud van Nistelrooy… obviously another over rated and useless player.

    Oh and one last thing… thanks for correcting me on the correct spelling of “leach”… you’re just a fountain information… aren’t you?

  18. captainhormone captainhormone says:

    Timbo is actually Chuck Norris in disguise lads…..better watch out

  19. Timbo – Shockingly enough I did not steal the idea from you, nor have I ever read anything of yours before this. But now that I have stumbled upon your insightful comments that Rooney should be dropped I’m glad I didn’t steal your opinions and write an article about them.

  20. captainhormone captainhormone says:

    timbo is clearly a wum

  21. Timbo, Hakuna Matata Hakuna Matata by the way where the fucks Pumba ???

  22. captainhormone captainhormone says:

    probably rimming him

  23. RobDiablo says:

    Looks like we also have a plan BeBe.

  24. uncleknobheadffs uncleknobheadforfucksake says:

    cringe…

  25. brianofnazareth brianofnazareth says:

    ** Cracks out the rope an rohypnol **

    **Calls Timbo……..**

  26. brianofnazareth said:
    ** Cracks out the rope an rohypnol **

    **Calls Timbo……..**

    In the jungle, the mighty jungle, the Brian rapes tonight.
    In the jungle, the mighty jungle, the Brian rapes tonight.

    Wee-ooh wim-o-weh.
    Wim-o-weh o-wim-o-weh o-wim-o-weh o-wim-o-weh
    o-wim-o-weh o-wim-o-weh o-wim-weh.
    Wim-o-weh o-wim-o-weh o-wim-o-weh o-wim-o-weh
    o-wim-o-weh o-wim-o-weh o-wim-weh o-wim-weh.

    Near the village, the quiet village, the Brian rapes tonight.
    Near the village, the quiet village, the Brian rapes tonight.

    Wee-ooh wim-o-weh. Wim-o-weh o-wim-o-weh o-wim-o-weh
    o-wim-o-weh o-wim-o-weh o-wim-o-weh o-wim-weh.
    Wim-o-weh o-wim-o-weh o-wim-o-weh o-wim-o-weh
    o-wim-o-weh o-wim-o-weh o-wim-weh o-wim-weh.

    Hush, my darling, don’t cry, my darling, the Brian rapes tonight.
    Hush, my darling, don’t cry, my darling, the Brian rapes tonight.

    Whuh whuh whuh wim-o-weh. Wee-ooh wim-o-weh wee-ooh
    wim-o-weh wee-ooh wim-o-weh wee-ooh wim-o-weh wee-ooh wim-o-weh wee-ooh wim-o-weh.

  27. danniitronix says:

    Lol – Timbo, you’re gonna get bummed!

  28. uncleknobheadffs uncleknobheadforfucksake says:

    ban him, he took rantanisationism too far

  29. uncleknobheadforfucksake said:
    ban him, he took rantanisationism too far

    WTF does rantanisationism mean Knobhead is it something you whisper sweetly into Spikes ear ?

  30. Robbo said:
    In the jungle, the mighty jungle, the Brian rapes tonight.
    In the jungle, the mighty jungle, the Brian rapes tonight.

    Wee-ooh wim-o-weh.
    Wim-o-weh o-wim-o-weh o-wim-o-weh o-wim-o-weh
    o-wim-o-weh o-wim-o-weh o-wim-weh.
    Wim-o-weh o-wim-o-weh o-wim-o-weh o-wim-o-weh
    o-wim-o-weh o-wim-o-weh o-wim-weh o-wim-weh.

    Near the village, the quiet village, the Brian rapes tonight.
    Near the village, the quiet village, the Brian rapes tonight.

    Wee-ooh wim-o-weh. Wim-o-weh o-wim-o-weh o-wim-o-weh
    o-wim-o-weh o-wim-o-weh o-wim-o-weh o-wim-weh.
    Wim-o-weh o-wim-o-weh o-wim-o-weh o-wim-o-weh
    o-wim-o-weh o-wim-o-weh o-wim-weh o-wim-weh.

    Hush, my darling, don’t cry, my darling, the Brian rapes tonight.
    Hush, my darling, don’t cry, my darling, the Brian rapes tonight.

    Whuh whuh whuh wim-o-weh. Wee-ooh wim-o-weh wee-ooh
    wim-o-weh wee-ooh wim-o-weh wee-ooh wim-o-weh wee-ooh wim-o-weh wee-ooh wim-o-weh.

    This thread

  31. bruce thomas says:

    Timbo is not so far off the mark as you think — anyone care to compare Scholes pass completion stats to Rooney’s — off hand I’d say it’s about 96% to 33%

  32. bruce thomas says:

    Sorry boys, Rooney’s pass completeion so far this (pre-season is 57%

  33. Robbo said:
    Timbo, Hakuna Matata, by the way where the fucks Pumba ???

    Again

  34. captainhormone captainhormone says:

    ffs, its bruce again….wheres rupert?
    ffs

  35. captainhormone captainhormone says:

    in fact fuck all these idiots off…totally clueless plastic cunts who know fuck all about “football”…yes that’s footall,not soccer

    superficial fairweather clueless cunts

  36. captainhormone captainhormone says:

    ffs lads, fight these prick cunts back…..now!!!

  37. uncleknobheadffs uncleknobheadforfucksake says:

    agreed

    captainfletcher can stay though

  38. Alfonso Bedoya Alfonso Bedoya says:

    Unregistered User said:
    Timbo is not so far off the mark as you think — anyone care to compare Scholes pass completion stats to Rooney’s — off hand I’d say it’s about 96% to 33%

    What do you expect, you tard… Scholes plays the game with half the fuckin team in front of him… all lookin to him for a pass.

    Rooney plays most of the game lookin to recieve the ball and turn at goal… and when he does pass, he’s looking for the final pass through a wall of defenders.

    Completely different approach to the game… next you’ll be comparing Rooney to VDS, and claiming Rooney gives the ball away more.

  39. Alfonso Bedoya said:
    What do you expect, you tard… Scholes plays the game with half the fuckin team in front of him… all lookin to him for a pass.

    Rooney plays most of the game lookin to recieve the ball and turn at goal… and when he does pass, he’s looking for the final pass through a wall of defenders.

    Completely different approach to the game… next you’ll be comparing Rooney to VDS, and claiming Rooney gives the ball away more.

    Rooney. Not the most talented footballer of his generation, just the most over-rated.

  40. danniitronix says:

    TGR said:
    Rooney. Not the most talented footballer of his generation, just the most over-rated.

    The most overrated is Fwank Lamptard.

    Rooney is the most talented english player of his generation but that don’t make him the best.

    Rio is the most purely talented of the last generation and he is still the best out of all that bunch. Scholes before Rio. Gezza a close second but when it comes to raw talent, Rio and Scholes are the most technically complete in their positions.

  41. Unregistered User said:
    This guy is right about Rooney being slightly over rated. Not to the etent that he sthe most overrated player in the world or whatever, theres always ashley young for that. But his work rate is very often mistaken for skill. Hes not Drogba or Torres who has that perfect combination of pace, strength and unbelievable finishing ability.
    Berba and Chicarito are going to be immense for us when played together.
    We shouldnt sell Rooney by a long mile as despite being slightly over rated he is still one of the best players in the world. But the Berba-Hernandez partnership should be seen as better than Rooney up front by himself because a five man midfield does not work when we dont have 5 world class defenders like barca.

    You don’t need 5 world class defenders to make a formation work where Rooney is on his own up front. We need the right quality and balance in midfield, which we appear to lack.

  42. Alfonso Bedoya Alfonso Bedoya says:

    The thing that pisses me off about the criticism of Rooney, is it assumes that United fans need to be told about what he CAN’T do.

    What a load of pretentious horse shit. Most fans know that Rooney isn’t Messi, or Ronaldo… but then, Messi and Ronaldo aren’t Rooney, are they?

    Rooney has his limitations, for sure… but he also has his attributes… you lot sound like Liverpool fans ffs… instead of boasting about how lucky we are that Rooney is OUR player… you revel in telling us that he’s not as good as we think… we know how good he is, and what he excels at, and we’re happy with that.

    Every player in the game is over rated to some extent, what makes you pissy fuckers think Rooney deserves special mention here?

  43. uncleknobheadffs uncleknobheadforfucksake says:

    rooneys utd more than any player that’s played for us since robson

  44. Alfonso Bedoya Alfonso Bedoya says:

    Unregistered User said:
    Made my morning this. haha!

    What did?

  45. Pikey McScum Pikey McScum says:

    A nice big wet shite?

  46. uncleknobheadforfucksake said:
    rooneys utd more than any player that’s played for us since robson

    Rooney’s average.

  47. uncleknobheadffs uncleknobheadforfucksake says:

    as are we thanks to a certain scottish reprobate

    FERGIE

  48. LKHF is also average.

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