This article is part of Football FanCast’s Opinion series, which provides analysis, insight and opinion on any issue within the beautiful game, from Paul Pogba’s haircuts to League Two relegation battles…
During Manchester United’s pomp under Sir Alex Ferguson, the Red Devils were perhaps one of the most feared teams on the planet. Pace, power and goals. That late 2000s team involving the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney and Carlos Tevez, amongst others, was brimming with attacking potential and frightened the life out of their opponents.
Whilst they have some way to go to match their aforementioned counterparts, Marcus Rashford, Mason Greenwood and Daniel James delivered a searing performance against Leeds that hearkened back to the glory days under Sir Alex.
The young United trio were fearless going forward and took the game to Leeds with their work on the ball and off it. Their speed on the counter-attack was devastating and is perhaps another piece of evidence of how Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is looking to set his team up for next season.
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Indeed, speaking after the game about United’s fine second goal, the Norwegian remarked: “With the second goal, I like the counter-attack, we know we’re a threat with the pace we’ve got up front and the quality in that attack was high as well.”
Having the likes of Rashford, Greenwood and James start in the front three positions for United would cause all kinds of problems, particularly in the games against the top sides. The rest of the ‘big six‘ traditionally play a high-line as they look to press the ball, and United’s speed merchants could thrive on counter-attacks with simple balls over the top.
It would give their much-maligned defence a breather if they know a clearance could potentially lead to a chance at the other end and even in games against packed defences, their dribbling skills could open the game up to.
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Whilst United’s pre-season so far has only seen them look impressive against Australian outfit Perth Glory and Championship side Leeds United, their style of play seems like a template they can take into the season, and it’s all led by that rip-roaring pace up front.
Ferguson’s United were always catchy on the eye and blistering on the break; caution is required, but the early signs from United’s youthful trident up front bear some of the same signs.