Sir Alex keeps Stoke guessing
Sir Alex Ferguson admits he is likely to shift between playing with wingers and adopting a diamond formation.
Operating without wide men allows Wayne Rooney to drop deeper with fellow strikers Robin van Persie and Danny Welbeck also selected in the same line-up for United’s 3-0 success at Newcastle last time out.
As the manager is keen to stress his squad’s strength is in attack, it means he can play more of his out-and-out forwards but Ashley Young’s return to fitness means he, Nani and Antonio Valencia also offer outstanding options on the flanks.
Stoke City boss Tony Pulis will be kept guessing as to the Reds’ tactical intentions for Saturday’s clash at Old Trafford.
“It is going to be difficult picking teams,” confessed Sir Alex. “Sometimes I think the diamond formation can work. Other times, we need width.
“I am flexible. There are benefits both ways. It is unusual for us to play without wingers. Both Newcastle games and in Cluj it definitely worked very well. It gave our opponents a lot of problems. Obviously teams will work it out now.
“Tony Pulis will be wondering what I am going to do, whether I am going to play with wide players or a diamond. I might play wide players and a diamond and play with two defenders!”
Stoke will pose problems of their own with their awkward style and direct tactics, but Sir Alex is confident his team can handle the threat.
“Play your own game,” he asserted. “You can over-worry about these things. We know they are going to get set-pieces. We know they are going to put a long throw into our box. We know they are going to play long balls up to Peter Crouch.
“Our preparation is simple. We know what they are going to do. Sometimes you can play teams and not know exactly what they are going to do. With Stoke we know exactly what they are going to do. Let’s play our game. Hopefully it works.”