Manchester United rounded off a tempestous 2014 at Old Trafford to an attractive end courtesy of first half goals from Wayne Rooney and a second half header from Robin Van Persie to stroll past Newcastle, extending Manchester United’s unbeaten run to eight matches.
With the 3-5-2 system being used for the fourth game in a row, Louis van Gaal‘s side showed increased signs of being comfortable with this radically different set-up.
The ease that came with the victory can be attributed to a couple of things – Newcastle not being at all impressive and Ashley Young showing real competence in the wing-back role.
“I think we showed, especially from the first minute, that we wanted to stop them from playing straight away,” Young said after the game.
“I think we did that. The way we played and dominated the game was fantastic. We’re just disappointed to let them score and concede that penalty.
“It’s always nice to be involved with the winning team; it’s always nice to win. We’re playing well, and things are going well on this run. We want to keep the momentum going and I think we showed how well we have been doing.
“When you’re playing with confidence, you put in performances in the way that not just myself, but the whole team are doing. It’s fantastic to be involved in. As long as we keep this run going, I don’t think there are many teams that will be able to stop us.”
With the 3-5-2 formation relying heavily on the wing-backs performing well, Young delivered a performance that made a formation labelled as ‘the death of football’ by Johann Cruyff quite fun to watch.
On his 73rd appearance for the club, Young caused Janmaat a severe number of problem throughout with his superb running power and athleticism. The width provided by Young allowed space for Carrick and Rooney to dictate the game, making the game very easy on the eye for the home fans.
“It’s a busy period that we’re entering, so it’s important to be getting wins – especially at home, but on the road as well,” Young added.
“We know we’ve got tough games coming up so, fingers crossed, we can keep up this momentum and the hard work.
“Especially with having Christmas Day off, it was vitally important to get the three points. We have tough away games coming up now and we’ve got to make sure that we’re prepared in the right way – and I’m sure we’ll be able to get the three points if we are.”
On top of that, the standard of his crossing provided stark contrast to the ones that gently floated into row Z last season under David Moyes. If Falcao had been more acute with his finishing today, Young could have ended up with two or three assists under his belt.
With the impending return of Luke Shaw from injury, Louis van Gaal has a selection dilemma when it comes to selecting his left wing-back in the 3-5-2 formation. Given the current form being shown by the previously capped England international, it would be cruel of Van Gaal to allow Shaw immediate entry into the starting XI.