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Creativity is critical to Manchester United’s future success

The most fitting players in Manchester United’s attacking positions were always highly creative in their abilities to create openings and place the ball either in the net or perfectly in front of another teammate to then be in the net.

Players such as Cristiano RonaldoPaul Scholes, and Wayne Rooney were all beloved by United because of their scoring and passing abilities, and all made legends out of themselves with their time at the club. This can only happen under certain conditions however, as the players need to be given the trust of their managers to take the chances they did, without fear of reprimand.

This creativity seems to have faded over the last few years as players focused less on thinking outside the box and more on fundamentals, as well as playing in systems that emphasized more on possession rather than attacking. The change in playstyle was most noticeable under Louis van Gaal, who was well known to be loyal to possession football.

Under Van Gaal, United seemed to be a completely different club, as the gorgeous crosses and through-balls just weren’t occurring. Pundits and fans were quickly becoming bored of Van Gaal’s tactics and were becoming desperate for the return of attacking football to United.  

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Unfortunately, fans were not treated to attacking football under Jose Mourinho either, as he also struggled to engrain the attacking philosophy he wanted into his players. However, the causes for the lack of attack may differ between the two managers.

While Van Gaal just preferred possession football in general, Jose Mourinho did want to see more attacking from his players. Unfortunately, it seemed that in Mourinho’s case, it was his negativity and a drastic dip in his player’s morale that seemed to have caused the slow play.

Mourinho’s consistent outspokenness about club and squad issues caused his players to lack the confidence that they needed, preventing them from allowing their complete attention on the matches at hand, and instead possibly worrying about their status at the club, or simply the starting XI.

Through the last five years, there really doesn’t seem to be a player that stands out as a history-making playmaker for the club. It seemed as though the exit of Sir Alex Ferguson, as well as the moving on of many of his players who were used to his philosophy, especially Rooney, caused a sharp decline in the attacking playstyle at United.

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Mix the drastic changes in the club, with the drastic formation and philosophy changes of Van Gaal and Mourinho. Then add poor management from the likes of the United board and Ed Woodward, who were seemingly unable to come to termswith the needs of the managers, it seemed that attacking football was merely a dream for United fans.

However, it appears that things may be reverting back to the old-fashioned attacking football United was used to. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has adapted the risk-taking style of football that he, Ronaldo, and Rooney all flourished under. The biggest key of this is Solskjaer being able to put his trust in the players to find the openings on the pitch, and create the plays that many wouldn’t be able to.

Solskjaer has to encourage his players to adapt to situations and overcome any changes a defence may make throughout a match. Fortunately, with the hiring of Solskjaeras permanent manager, he will now have access to many more aspects of the club, and will now be able to begin molding his team even more into the attacking squad he wants.

With this, the old United that fans came to love over the last three decades and more has a strong chance to return, and hopefully, the trophies won’t be too far behind.

Written by Joel Dulka

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