The addition of Ryan Giggs and Danny Welbeck against Olymapiakos completely changed the complexion of the team. Manchester United have been painfully pedestrian this season and lacked dynamism and creativity from the midfield.
While Welbeck offered a pacy outlet who was desperate to get behind the defence at any opportunity, Ryan Giggs pinged the ball around from the centre of the park and was involved in everything.
And it’s this creativity in the centre that has been sadly lacking for Manchester United all season. David Moyes has generally played Carrick plus one other defensive midfielder in there – either Cleverley, Fletcher or the frighteningly flawed Fellaini.
Moyes hasn’t been the quickest to pick up on such obvious signs this season. But surely he will have seen what a difference it makes to put a creator in next to Carrick.
We would like to say that Ryan Giggs would be the answer. But, at 40, he can’t play every week – despite looking like the most energetic player on the park in the last ten minutes (what is this guy on?).
Last night, post match, Jamie Redknapp and Jamie Carragher were discussing Manchester United’s performance in the Sky studio. They said that the shape of the team had been excellent and questioned how the cup-tied Juan Mata would now fit into the side going forward.
But, at £37m, David Moyes is not going to drop him. So why not put him in the centre of midfield? We thought that Manchester United would play him there from the off but he has been shipped out to right of midfield where his impact has been minimal. This is a player who needs to be in the centre of the park – that’s where he does his damage. He would like to play at number 10. But when Rooney and RvP are linking like they did last night noone is going to take their places.
So surely, by the love of sweet jesus, Manchester United and Moyes should be deploying Mata in the Giggs role. He would keep the ball moving beautifully and quickly. He always plays with his head up and can spot a pass, short or long, with superb accuracy.
It’s exactly what Manchester United need in the middle of the park. For us Mata is very much like Iniesta. A constantly moving player with fantastic technique.
The idea that Mata can’t play centre midfield because he can;t tackle is ludicrous. Manchester United’s best midfielder ever – Paul Scholes – was utterly useless at it. But that wasn’t his job. His jab was to create chances. And that is exactly what Mata would do in that position.
David Moyes is getting paid millions of pounds a year to put his £37m on the wing. But it doesn’t take a genius to see that putting Mata in the centre of midfield will make Manchester United tick again.
Follow us on Twitter @soccersweep10