Louis Van Gaal today confirmed that Michael Carrick will be absent for Manchester United’s final three games of the season.
The midfielder is still suffering from a calf injury as a result of the Manchester derby on the 12th April. The news will surely come as a big blow to his plans, since United need to pick up three points from six available to be certain of qualifying for next season’s Champions’ League.
Different approach required due to opposition tactics
In the midfielder’s absence, United have had no trouble keeping the ball. They have dominated possession against Chelsea, Everton and West Brom. However, as their opponents have sat back and defended, United have struggled to find the defence splitting pass to create chances for their attacking players.
With Carrick in the starting eleven, the Red Devils have a 72% win ratio. Without him, it’s 35% of games.
The Red Devils still have to play Crystal Palace, Arsenal and Hull City and it is likely that Palace and Hull will choose to sit back and rely on counter attacks and set-pieces for goalscoring chances. Therefore, Van Gaal should change his tactics and opt for pace on the wings instead of players who cut inside or hold it up before bringing others into play.
Despite his recent form, Angel Di Maria should start tomorrow in place of Juan Mata in a wide position and be given encouragement to take on the Palace defenders. Robin Van Persie should also start in place of Marouane Fellaini up front, with Wayne Rooney behind him where he can support attacks and drop deeper if needed defensively.
Could British record signing return to starting XI?
Adnan Januzaj’s ability to beat a man makes him an option, but Van Gaal is more likely to rely on Ashley Young. United will need the former Aston Villa man to terrorise Palace's Joel Ward.
It may look overly attacking, but United need goals. If Alan Pardew’s men choose to sit back, their own threat to a backline, which will be protected by Daley Blind and Ander Herrera, should be minimal.