The Telegraph claim that interim manager Ryan Giggs told the his players on his first training session in charge following the dismissal of David Moyes: “We will go back to playing like Manchester United.”
His first team talk will likely come as music to the ears of the players he now finds himself in charge of, as well as the fans across the globe who had become frustrated with the system and style Moyes had imposed on the soon-to-be disposed Premier League champions.
His former colleague and coach Paul Scholes joined him in leading the team for training on Wednesday at the club’s Aon sponsored Carrington training complex but his comments, as reported in The Telegraph, seem to suggest the midfielder intends to revert the Red Devils back to their style of play under Sir Alex Ferguson.
The Scot and legendary manager at Old Trafford changed his system over the course of his 26-year reign at the club but what never changed was his insistence that the team play attacking football.
In his early years in the late 1980s and early 1990s, Ferguson’s United (including a young prospect named Ryan Giggs) were characterized by their attacking 4-4-2 formation, that accentuated the talent of wide men Giggs and David Beckham.
Full-back Gary Neville was then a more traditional fullback (as opposed to the wingback) but would connect with Beckham on the right flank to whip crosses in to the final third, often pushing to the byline.
The midfield of Roy Keane and Paul Scholes occupied central areas from box-to-box and whilst both were exquisite passers of the ball, they were not too shy to throw their weight around defensively.
Up front, Dwight Yorke and Andy Cole, as well as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer oftentimes from the bench, functioned systematically as a forward duo, tearing apart defences across the land – later on towards the turn of the millennium the likes of Ruud van Nistelrooy and Wayne Rooney could operate as lone strikers but it is well documented that Ferguson favoured two frontmen to lead his line.
In his final season in charge, Ferguson was open to using more of a diamond formation that accentuated the technical quality of players like Shinji Kagawa and Tom Cleverley as well as wingers Nani, Antonio Valencia and Ashley Young but I would suspect Giggs, especially given his short run in charge, will adopt a 4-4-2 that can function in attack as a 4-3-3 almost with the winger pushing high up to join the striker, whilst the No.10 or playmaker can combine with the central midfielder, leaving one defensive or holding midfielder to protect in behind.
Defensively, without the ball, that 4-3-3 adaptation can file back into a 4-5-1, leaving the striker up front on his own and bring the No.10 back into a central midfield position to aid the two central midfielders, the wingers can pull back to protect the fullbacks and that shape is ideal for a team hoping to protect the back line and then win possession high up the pitch to break away on the counter.
Will Giggs play the traditional Ferguson attacking 4-4-2 or will he play the more recent diamond shape effectively a 4-3-1-2?
I would suspect, given the season they’ve had, predictability wouldn’t be the worst thing more Manchester United at present but, under Ryan Giggs, I predict they can find a late resurgence in form and confidence if they revert back to the attacking, fast-paced ‘attack attack attack’ that we know of old at Old Trafford.