Paul Scholes and Michael Carrick have not been included in the 21-man squad travelling to Romania this week for the Champions League fixture against CFR Cluj. The full squad is as follows:
De Gea, Lindegaard; Büttner, Evans, Evra, Ferdinand, M.Keane, Rafael, Wootton; Anderson, Cleverley, Fletcher, Lingard, Nani, Powell, Tunnicliffe; Hernandez, Kagawa, Rooney, van Persie, Welbeck.
Sir Alex has depended on Scholes and Carrick for all the big games this season and it has hurt us on occasions, none more so than the 3-2 loss to Tottenham this Saturday. Our midfield was ripped to shreds by Dembele and Sandro as we couldn’t cope with their energy and pace, so seeing the two veterans out of the Champions League means we will be treated to something different on Tuesday night – hopefully the same trio that played against Newcastle.
Fletcher, Anderson and Cleverley were superb in last week’s Capital One Cup victory over Newcastle United. Fletcher sat himself in front of the defence and protected them – I believe it is a sign of a change to his style of play after overcoming his chronic bowel condition, so I don’t expect so much energy from him anymore and understandably so. Regardless of that, he did an excellent job.
His reliability meant that Anderson and Cleverley were able to run riot. Safe in the knowledge that Fletcher was always going to be protecting the middle, they surged forward multiple times and helped bolster the attack with numbers through the middle. It’s successes were obvious with both Anderson and Cleverley scoring on the night.
Having that midfield trio gives us a great combination of level headed experience and youthful, energetic exuberance. It was a formation that breathed new life into our stagnant side and I don’t know why Sir Alex didn’t use it against Tottenham.
Although I am surprised to think that the same tactic might be used in a midweek away Champions League game in Romania, it is the right choice to make. It plays to our strengths. Having Cleverley and Anderson bursting through the middle behind Kagawa, Nani, van Persie and Rooney would bring such a versatility and unpredictability to our attack that it is almost guaranteed to make chances.
I hope it is a sign of things to come. Whilst I am a massive fan of Scholes, we need to use him properly and not depend on his services. Remember, last season we didn’t miss him until Anderson and Cleverley got injured but that seems to have been forgotten.