Manchester United could discover their own Harry Kane to destroy Pep Guardiola and Man City
Manchester United is in a pickle: they can’t put all of their greatest players on the field at the same time without risking a big name.
Under Ralf Rangnick, Paul Pogba, Bruno Fernandes, Jadon Sancho, and Fred have all developed tremendously, and, at the risk of oversimplification, having all of your top players on the field goes a long way toward helping you win.
But how do you do this when they only have so many positions on the pitch for United? One of the simplest solutions would be to play Sancho on the right and Pogba on the left.
The problem with this is that Sancho has been playing incredibly well off the left in recent weeks and appears to be coming into his own in the position.
Keeping Cristiano Ronaldo as the striker would limit the frontline’s pressing ability and potentially lead to a major breakdown in Rangnick’s defensive style.
So, what else can United do, given Ronaldo’s recent poor form and Edinson Cavani’s next physical setback never seems far away?
Their solution could come from Manchester City and Pep Guardiola. In the absence of a traditional striker, the Catalan coach has used his hallmark false nine methods, and United might do the same with the players they have.
Fernandes is the obvious contender given his proclivity to go up the field and propensity to press from the front, but he will need to make some minor adjustments to his style.
He’ll either have to be faster with his passes or quit acting like there’s a 24-second shot clock like in the NBA.
The latter would necessitate a degree of hold-up play and dribbling ability that I believe Fernandes lacks, thus the former is more feasible and will necessitate the efforts of the players around him.
The city takes advantage of positional play, receiving the ball before passing it off and moving rapidly to create space. With Sancho, Pogba, and Fred, as well as Luke Shaw, Diogo Dalot, and potentially Anthony Elanga or Marcus Rashford, Fernandes will have plenty of alternatives.
The sight of Harry Kane dropping deep to devastate Manchester City over the weekend, with both lethal passes and well-timed runs into the area, is absolutely something Bruno can mimic.
It may not be United’s primary technique, but with Watford and City up next in the league, it could be the tactic that they test against the latter.