Former Manchester United winger Andrei Kanchelskis has spoke about Jose Mourinho’s lack of faith in wingers since he took over the reigns of the Old Trafford club after Louis van Gaal was sacked after the Emirates FA Cup triumph in May 2016. This season, winger are not always utilised by the Portuguese manager, which seems to take away the Manchester United of old with a 4-4-2 formation with United using their wingers blistering pace to cross the ball into the awaiting attackers, scoring goals after goal. This may be down to the fact football has evolved and the much favoured 4-2-3-1 formation and such like being utilised instead. I do miss the days gone by where United would attack as their best for of defence, but with teams structuring their formations to counter against that, every team needs to evolve, or face being left in the past.
This kind of play could be destructive in today’s game, taking the fun out of matches and seeing many 0-0 bore draws, which just seems to be a price many teams will pay, especially if they managed the bore draw against big teams such as Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal and those that hold aspirations to be a big team, despite not having much history, like Manchester City. 4-4-2 is a great formation, one I do miss seeing United play, but that seemed to disappear with the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson, but it may be a formation that returns to clubs one day. Modern football seems to use fullbacks to do the job of the wingers, which sometimes works, but could see the team lack defensive ability on the break should they lose possession further upfield. Andrei Kanchelskis, speaking exclusively to 888sport, said:
“Mourinho doesn’t like to play wingers. They play a different system now and it’s not like before when United played 4-4-2. Now it’s more defensive, looking for results and no longer playing the open football like before, it’s destuctive.
“If I was managing a team against Manchester United I would try to play 4-4-2 because if you play with wingers there is more chance of scoring goals against them. United are struggling to score goals because there is no service. United need better support for their attackers. I had people like Gary Neville and Paul Parker which allowed me to play. They were great defensive players down the right side so we could concentrate on attacking more.
“There are no wingers in any team now, club or international. It is not just a problem for Manchester United, it is a problem for the whole UK. Having wingers is good for the team and good for the fans. They excite and United have always had good wingers – Giggs, Beckham, myself, Ronaldo and Nani.”
United currently use the likes of Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford, Juan Mata and Jesse Lingard on the wings, especially with Memphis Depay not showing much of his talent since his £25 million move to United the summer before last, which could spell the end of the Dutch winger, who just has not lived up to his expectations, possibly one of the reasons wingers are not being utilised, as United do not have one who is consistent enough to constantly play formations which utilise wingers. Kanchelskis was a great winger in his day, winning two Premier League titles, one FA Cup, one League Cup, one FA Community Shield and one UEFA Super Cup during his time at the club, then leaving for Everton, then playing for Fiorentina, Rangers and even Manchester City, despite it being a loan move. Kanchelskis’ time at United was his most successful, with Rangers being second with two Scottish Premier League titles and three Scottish Cups.
United have been looking at wingers recently with Bruma of Galatasaray a player which Mourinho rates, and could well see as an upgrade to Memphis, who just does not look to be setting the world on fire at United, despite the high expectations shows at PSV Eindhoven and for the Netherlands in the 2014 FIFA World Cup. Henrikh Mkhitaryan is another player who was brought in, a player who can play in a number of positions; winger, number ten and even a second striker. The Armenian is yet to find his feet at United, and could well get a run of matches throughout the winter in a bid to find his feet and get some momentum in order to prove himself at the Theatre of Dreams. Mourinho may just have a plan to bring wingers back at United, but much like the transition after Ferguson, it is not something that can be installed at the club immediately and be made successful in an instant. The world just does not work like that.
Read the full 888sport interview with Andrei Kanchelskis, including his fears that wingers have no hope under destructive Mourinho