Sir Alex Ferguson's Greatest Manchester United Team - 2007/08 Tactic

Manchester United's team in the 07/08 season has always been considered as one of the greatest Manchester United teams, especially under Sir Alex Ferguson. During this season, Manchester United went on to win the famous double putting on some fantastic attacking displays. In the Premier League, Sir Alex Fergusons team went on to win 27 of their 38 league games, drawing 6 and losing 5. They went on to score the most goals in the league (80) but also had a mean defence and only conceded 22 goals whilst claiming 21 clean sheets. The front three of Tevez, Rooney and Ronaldo were devastating, scoring 70% of Manchester United's league goals whilst also almost assisting half of the team's goals and now, we're going to look more into why this team were so devastating in attacks and solid in defence.

The Shape


Sir Alex Ferguson during the 2007/08 season was tactically intriguing as he never kept to one system. But the system mainly used in the Premier League was a 4-4-2/4-3-3 hybrid which he used to dominate most sides. The front-three of Tevez, Rooney and Ronaldo had the freedom in attack to express themselves but they also remained very high to keep constant pressure on the opponent's defence. In the center of the park, Manchester United had two midfield maestro's in Michael Carrick and Paul Scholes. Carrick would often play deeper than Scholes to recycle possession but also to collect the ball from defence and feed Paul Scholes who was the more aggressive playmaker. Scholes had the license to either sit in the middle of the park and look to spay passes or he could travel with the ball as the front-three playing high meant space was created. Manchester United were a counter-attacking team so this was key. On the left of the middle, Giggs played most of the games and he had a job of remaining wide and beating his man when possible. But it was the defence that was the foundation for this side. The back four hardly missed a game and were ever-present and the personnel were balanced. In the heart of defence were Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand. Ferdinand was a player who was quick on his feet and was tactically intelligent both on the ball and off and he had the ability to play counter-attacking or the more direct pass. Vidic was the hard man in defence, willing to put his body on the line but we also can't take away the fact Vidic was still a player composed on the ball but maybe did not have the technical qualities like Ferdinand. On the right was Wes Brown, who at this time was filling in for Gary Neville who was out with a long-term injury. Brown provided width and when needed, he could support the attacks but it was Patrice Evra (left-back) who had more license to get further forward and support Giggs on the left by overlapping. Against tough opponents, Park-Ji Sung or Owen Hargreaves was often used on the right-side of midfield remaining compact and putting in a shift. This meant either Giggs or Tevez would be the players who were sacrificed. That was the basics of the team, lets look more into their attacking fire-power.

The Attack


Most teams in the Premier League, if not all, could not handle the 3 superb attackers who connected and played with freedom and fluidity. Cristiano Ronaldo scored 31 Premier League goals that season, averaging 1.01 goals per game. Carlos Tevez scored 14 goals which is also a good return but as these two players did most on the penetrating, Wayne Rooney was being the creator. He finished the season with 11 assists, the most from a striker that season, but impressively, he also managed to score 0.50 goals per 90. Ronaldo started most of the games out on the right and as both wingers (Ronaldo and Giggs) remained wide, they still had different roles/duties. Giggs would mainly hug the touchline (though not exclusively) playing more like an out-and-out winger but Ronaldo would often cut inside with the ball from the right with the opportunity to feed an attacker or shoot from distance. When not possible, he could still beat the man and go on the outside. Rooney and Tevez both were highly energetic but not quite your pressing-forwards. They worked hard for the team and both players had the ability to link-up play but it was Rooney who had more of the freedom to drop deeper to create space and create goal-scoring chances. But they had a fluid system, as occasionally Tevez could drop deep and allow Rooney to be the furthest player. The front-three were the match winners and were relied upon. Ronaldo had a goal contribution of 37 which was the most in the league, Rooney had a goal contribution 23 which ranks him 7th and Tevez was ranked 10th with a goal contribution of 20. That's 3 players in the top 10 goals + assists table. Now we've discovered why they're so potent in attack, lets dive in-to their defence.

Defending


Manchester United operated in a midblock to keep the vertical lines compact. This meant they were difficult to play through but also complimented their counter-attacking approach. Sir Alex Ferguson was a manager who trusted his players, both in attack in defence, they were not exactly a pressing team. In fact, their lower line of engagement meant they were inviting pressure and relied on players to be tactically aware to win the ball for the side. In defensive situations, Vidic and Ferdinand were well prepared to handle most situations thrown at them. With Giggs in the later stages of his carer by this point, Evra also shared the responsibility of providing that flank with width and speed whilst on the right side, Wes Brown was a lot more cautious. If United did lose the ball, interestingly enough, it wouldn't be Ronaldo tracking back. Depending on the striker playing on the same side as Ronaldo, the striker could be seen doing the tracking back on the right side. This allowed Ronaldo to stay forward and prepare for a counter-attack. Against the bigger sides, Paul Scholes would drop deeper adding security.

Conclusion


Sir Alex Ferguson Manchester United’s 2007-08 double-winning team was a team that had it all, blistering pace in attack to aid their counter-attacks and a rock-solid defence. The 4-4-2/4-3-3- hybrid was the most frequent formation used in the league whilst Fergie also showed his tactical class in the Champions League. The front three of Tevez, Rooney and Ronaldo had speed, energy but most importantly, very clinical. They have had a fluid system, they all could play wide or centrally and their changing of positions meant it was impossible to prepare defensively. But that's it, thank you for reading RDF's Sir Alex Ferguson's 2008-08 anaylsis.

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