Manchester United & England must try 3-5-2 to suceed

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Tactics.  Tactics are the bread and butter of a manager's emphasis of style on a football pitch. Tactics have developed and evolved along with the game itself since its creation in the nineteenth century.  

From the Pyramid formation in the pre-war period which included "half-backs" and "inside forwards" to today's time with "false-9's" and "trequartistas", tactics have become a thing of an art.

We love to craze over the "tiki-taka" employed by Barcelona, or the powerful yet energetic pursuit of the ball from the German powerhouses in Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund. It appears that English teams seemed to be stuck in a state of confusion. We portray these teams as footballing God's, while at the same time are soul-searching for our own footballing identity.

Gone are the days of the "good ol' English spirit", long-ball tactics. No more opting for a tall player over a small player in the youth team. England have now progressed to think about technical ability over physical presence.

England's progressive state in this area though, has its limitations. Unlike in other nations such as Germany, Belgium and Holland where league clubs are obliged to utilise a similar tactic through their youth teams to the first team, that is alike to the national team, England can not hold this power and will over the Premier League clubs.

Does this mean a time for change within the English schooling/coaching system? While focusing on the English national team of the past 20 years, there is one period that sticks out as being both the most successful and also the most entertaining.

The period from 1994-1998 saw England revert to a new, untried formation, the 3-5-2. This formation was in use during Euro '96, which saw England reach the semi-finals, eventually losing to Germany on penalties.

The 3-5-2 has sorely been missed, both by England and a number of English teams. Wigan used it terrifically to ensure they remained in the Premier League during the 2011/12 season, beating both Manchester United and Arsenal in their last four fixtures.

The 3-5-2 offers so much more to a teams tactical viewpoint than any other tactic. One limitation is it's lack of attacking wide men, but there are many ways around this.

Let's take Manchester United for an example. Adopting wing-backs would be simple for the attacking nature of full-backs Rafael, Fabio, Alex Buttner and Patrice Evra. When played at full-back, these players are often found high up in the opposition half.

With the ability to play three defenders means there is no need for a defensive minded centre midfielder either. This will mean using three centre midfielders, two of which can roam, move into the channels that are not being used by wingers, and still allow for two strikers.

England could also consider going back to a 3-5-2. Again, we have ready made players for the full-back positions. Leighton Baines, Glen Johnson and Kyle Walker are all attack minded full backs, and would work the wings perfectly.

We are short on top quality centre backs at the moment but playing three, including Phil Jones as a sweeper who can bring the ball out of play would work wonders.

Extra men in the middle would see Wilshere having more freedom to roam, and others including Ross Barkley, Tom Cleverley or Adam Lallana able to join him in the middle, with a Michael Carrick or someone similar to sit in the middle of the park, and retain possession.

A switch to the 3-5-2 could be the answer to get two fallen giants in England and Manchester United, back at the top of the game.  Possession is now a key factor in football, along with high energy and solidarity at the back. 3-5-2 seems to be the best option for David Moyes and Roy Hodgson at this moment in time.

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