Why Manchester United need Kagawa & Mata

Manchester United manager David Moyes has been under severe pressure from the media as well as the fans due to poor recent results. The Scotsman who took over from Sir Alex has lead a lackluster Manchester United side to 7th in the table however against Aston Villa today at Old Trafford there were a few glimpses of a ‘new look’ Manchester United.

Giggs and Ronaldo

Historically Manchester United has been a side that prides itself on fielding some of the very best wide players in the world. Players such as George Best, Ryan Giggs and Cristiano Ronaldo are prime examples! They played with pace and power for Manchester United and in turn stretched the opposition beyond its limits.

However today David Moyes picked a very different Manchester United line-up. The only noticeable true ‘wide’ player was Ashley Young. Other attacking players such as Shinji Kagawa and Juan Mata, who are natural no.10′s, drifted in and thus lead us playing a very narrow game. Our talisman Wayne Rooney, who is another no.10 occupied his old CF position very successfully as he beat Aston Villa keeper Brad Guzan twice, once with his head and once from the spot!


The First Goal –  Kagawa Showing his Versatility an Inverted Winger

The first Rooney goal was set up by a precise ‘cross’ from Kagawa! It was only the Japanese playmaker’s second assist this season however the goal highlighted one of the advantages of playing a narrow system.

Shinji was playing as an inverted winger as he drifted in onto his right foot. Before he put in the cross Mata made a superb diagonal run across the Villa box and dragged defender Ciaran Clark with him. This resulted in Rooney being left in acres of space as he nodded home Kagawa’s accurate cross into the bottom right hand corner, giving Guzan no chance. A precise finish to a a very precise assist!

The goal highlights the fact that playing a narrow system allows the front 3 to make a lot more runs behind the opposition, as Mata demonstrated. This results in the CF, in this case Rooney, being left in a lot of space. A goal scorer like Rooney only needs space and an accurate pass to cause havoc in the opponents box. The narrow system allowed Rooney to have a lot more space to operate in and also provided him with more support if he needed it as team mates like Mata would be making dangerous runs.

Pass is in Blue and Runs are in Red.

The Second Goal – Kagawa at his Best as a CAM

The second goal scored also also involved Kagawa. He was bursting through the middle right at the heart of the Aston Villa. This resulted in the Villa defense backing off and dropping deeper. An advantage of the narrow system is that players close to you are making runs behind the defense.

This is shown as Mata and Rooney are both making runs behind the Villa defense. This gives the passer, in this case  Kagawa, more options and gives the opposition more problems. Instead of having to deal with one runner they have to deal with two!

Kagawa picks out a superb curved pass right into the path of Mata’s run. The pass does take a slight deflection however Mata’s run is towards the goal and Kagawa’s ball is in front of Mata. The pass and and Mata meet just as Bacuna makes a desperate tackle on Mata. This earns United a penalty and Bacuna a yellow. The penalty is expertly tucked away by Rooney.

With a conventional 4-4-2 that Moyes used in previous games this would not have been possible as the winger would have to cut in, like Kagawa did for his first goal. However the winger would soon discover that although he had 2 targets to aim for they would both be well defended as no one was making runs behind the defense and dragging it out of position. In this narrow system the passer is allowed to run right at the defense and will have more options to pick out the critical pass.


The Third Goal – Juan Mata, You always remember your first one!

The finish and the build up to the first and second goal is tactically and visually beautiful! The third goal which was Mata’s first was less so! It was just about pure desire, to win the ball and score. Mata and Fellani showed more desire than the Villa defense and thus scrambled the ball into the net.

Despite it being a bit of a scramble in the box the finish that the Spanish midfield maestro applied was clinical! The goal highlighted the importance of having men from midfield in the box to support the forward men. Fellani’s presence in the box was essential, as without him the goal would have certainly not been scored.

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The Fourth Goal – Adnan Januzaj, A star in the making!

The fact I made a slideshow about it does slightly give it away, but the fact is I love this goal! The other three were fantastic on their own merits but this one, is truly special. It was the cherry on top of the cake. It was nothing tactically extra ordinary. It’s beauty lies in its simplicity.

It was a Manchester United goal. It is everything we have practiced through out the Ferguson era. Do it hard and do it quick. That is what the goal was, a hard goal, a raw goal and a fast goal. Its sheer speed provided Villa with very little time to regain their composure. The pictures, I understand are not the best but I hope the quality of the photos does not take anything away from the beauty of the goal for you!

The cute dummy by Adnan puts a smile on the face of the Old Trafford Faithful. The dribble past Delph makes us all applaud the young man‘s sheer speed and his confidence! The cross reminds the older fans of David Beckham! He used to put in crosses like that! Then the final touch, the finish, gets us off out seats. It’s a finish that matches the build-up. Athletically commendable and aesthetically beautiful it is a goal that Old Trafford applauds. It’s a beautiful goal, its a Manchester United goal.


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