What implications does the Nani/Anderson/Hargreaves triple deal have for the way Man Utd will play next season? The Sun reports that United fans can look forward to a new formation in 2007/08: ‘Sources close to Fergie say he will play a 4-2-3-1 formation next season â€” using Ronaldo, Anderson and Nani as his three attacking midfielders behind Wayne Rooney.’
If we ignore the fact that these ‘sources’ are no more reliable than a bloke down the pub, then a 4-2-3-1 formation is conceivable. Man U’s first team could look something like this:
Foster; Heinze, Ferdinand, Vidic, Neville; Hargreaves, Carrick; Ronaldo, Scholes, Nani; Rooney
On paper a 4-2-3-1 formation suits United’s squad. If Rooney had a reliable striking partner â€“ you can’t say that of Saha (injury-prone), Smith (great attitude but not quite up to it), Solskjaer (almost past it) or the returning Rossi (great potential but a bit lightweight) â€“ then I’m sure Fergie would be keen to stick with a 4-4-2 formation but that’s not the case.
Owen Hargreaves is obviously the key to this 4-2-3-1 formation. As one half of the defensive ‘2’, he allows his partner (Carrick or Fletcher?) to move forward and distribute the ball to the attacking trio, which could mean a trident consisting of Ronaldo, Nani and Anderson – that’s a scary triumvirate, with more than enough pace and skill to scare the best defenders in the world.
Anyway, there’s little chance that either Nani or Anderson will figure prominently in United’s starting elevens in the first couple of months of the season. Fergie has never been afraid to blood young talent (Sharpe, Giggs, Beckham, Scholes, Ronaldo etc.) but he knows that there’s a huge difference between the Portuguese league and the breathless rush of the Premiership. I imagine he’ll want to give Nani and Anderson a few months to settle in before unleashing them, initially as impact substitutes.
And with a rejuvenated Paul Scholes to call on and Ryan Giggs now free from international commitments, there’s no urgent need to throw Nani and Anderson into the fray.