Potential Man United ideal XI: 4-4-2 diamond with a new defence

by Richard Laverty

When rumours emerged that Manchester United were preparing for another summer of expenditure, supporters were busy giddying over names and who will become the next part of the revolution at Old Trafford.

Our Content Executive Rich Laverty takes a shorter-term view and looks what might make United a more solid outfit in January and when all the first team players return from injury.

XI

“Defence is clearly where United need to strengthen. Obviously it appears Strootman is a key target but he’s not fit and it doesn’t appear Roma would sell in January. Other targets such as Godin and Hummels have the same problem, their clubs won’t part company next month.

“What United need now is a talented defender capable of keeping himself fit. Ron Vlaar has been solid and clearly thrived under van Gaal in the World Cup but he’ll be around for no more than a few years. Fabian Schar’s contract is up in June and would be available for a bargain price.

“There’s every chance United may just try and get him on a pre-contract, escaping a fee and look elsewhere in January but for how good he is, Schar would be a great addition in January, he is incredibly highly-rated and superb at Anfield a few weeks ago.

“Elsewhere in the team it’s hard to fit everyone in. If Smalling and Rojo could keep themselves fit they had a good partnership going but the problem, there’s no confidence among supporters regarding their fitness.

“A diamond leaves United open at the back, there’s no doubt but they’ve looked their best going forward using this formation. A stronger defence may mean a diamond is viable but against sides like Everton and West Ham, United’s attack blew them away early on before finding themselves clinging on due to a lack of defensive protection.

“That’s why Marouane Fellaini is in alongside Herrera, he can at least drop back and help Carrick. Angel Di Maria can cause havoc with his pace in the no.10 role and I’ve always thought of Rooney as a striker. He may not be involved as much but he’s a goal scorer, he does have that instinct and showed in the 09/10 and 11/12 seasons. Plus, the likes of van Persie, Mata and Januzaj aren’t bad bench options along with Daley Blind.

“When van Gaal inevitably moves to his favoured 4-3-3 formation next season with more signings things will change but for now, the diamond is where United look their best.”

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