I used to play a lot of Championship Manager in my some say, miss spent youth, a youth that I’ve dragged into my 20’s with Football Manager and I’ll shortly be carrying to my 30’s and beyond. I’ve spent hours perfecting my managerial style and developing a way of playing that reflected my personal footballing beliefs and my online management CV would stand up to any manager past or present. I say hours but these hours add up to days and in reality those days spill into years. What on earth has this got to with anything I hear you cry? I’m of course preempting this reaction as currently while I write I’m the only person to see this although I’m questioning it myself, in isolation nothing relevant It’s just me taking an opportunity to gloat by boasting about my ability to gatecrash the top 4 with Derby on a shoe string budget I might add. But it holds further meaning as I will now explain.
I remember it well I was playing as Manchester United trying to guiding us to back to back championships, something that seems further from reality now than what it was then, I went in to a game against Arsenal who were challenging at the top of the table, these where the good old days where Chelsea were 8th and the noisy neighbours were in a different footballing tier. I was ravaged by injuries and short on options, I was left with a predicament go for a lesser player in his natural position or play a better player out of position…. I was raised on the footballing belief that if you’re good enough you can play anywhere, something I wanted to believe and something that influenced my next decision. Giggs started left back!
Everything was going well until I started the game I was 2-0 down inside 15 and Freddie Ljungberg had Giggs on toast time after time he skinned the wing wizard and peppered my box with cross after cross, not wanting to back down from my decision I ploughed on in blind faith, this would have happened no matter who I’d picked to play left back I convinced myself. At 3.0 down at half time I gave in and reluctantly brought Phil Neville on and pushed Giggs into his natural position, Giggs scored one and made one but I lost the game 3-2 I made the right change at the wrong time.
Yesterday’s game took me back to that very moment, as we started with Ashley Young and Jesse Lingard as wing-backs. It takes a degree of self belief and arrogance to be successful and also to believe playing players out of position won’t effect the outcome of the game. You wouldn’t get Gary from accounts to fix the office printer or Sonia from HR to file the company accounts.
We have a squad of players acquired to play a variation of 4-4-2, we haven’t changed the squad enough to enable us to be effective with other formations, change the players or change the formation, simply put, something has to give. I can’t help but think if Van Gaal is dealt the same transfer hand as Moyes he will suffer a similar fate.