Robin van Persie: How Manchester United Can Get the Best out of Dutch Striker

Sam Tighe@@stighefootballWorld Football Tactics Lead WriterAugust 17, 2012

KHARKOV, UKRAINE - JUNE 17:  Robin van Persie of Netherlands cools himself down during a break in play in the UEFA EURO 2012 group B match between Portugal and Netherlands at Metalist Stadium on June 17, 2012 in Kharkov, Ukraine.  (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
Ian Walton/Getty Images

According to the BBC, Robin van Persie is set for a £24 million move from Arsenal to Manchester United once personal details and medicals are agreed upon.

United fans will immediately turn their thoughts to the burning question: How can Sir Alex Ferguson utilise his new star signing?


Option 1: 4-4-2

The easiest formation to use would be a system that incorporates two strikers playing side by side, but the 4-4-2 would be detrimental to United for a number of reasons.

Firstly, it puts Shinji Kagawa on the back foot from the word go. He is an attacking midfielder. He is not a central midfielder. If you put him in a flat midfield four, he's going to get bulldozed by every Tom, Dick and Harry in the league.

In all likelihood, he'd end up in a wide position he's not 100 percent comfortable with, which is a bit of a waste considering he cost around £17 million.

Second, it doesn't solve what was one of Man Utd's biggest problems last season: possession. United need to switch to a formation that allows them to dominate proceedings not only by the scoreline, but with the ball too. Especially away from Old Trafford, the 4-4-2 is not the answer.


Option 2: 4-4-2 Diamond

Perhaps the option Sir Alex Ferguson is more inclined to go with is the diamond alteration of the 4-4-2 formation. It's not radical, and it allows all the integral pieces in the team to flourish.

Michael Carrick or Paul Scholes would hold the midfield, while Shinji Kagawa is allowed to roam free in the attacking midfield role he is world class in.

It's important to distinguish between these two midfield roles and not allow it to become a flat four. As mentioned, Kagawa can't play as a central midfielder, so his freedom necessitates a specialist to counterbalance his presence.

Again, RvP and Rooney would be playing side by side here, but the advanced position of Kagawa would allow for a bit more fluidity in the front line.


Option 3: 3-5-2

Roberto Mancini has stumbled upon something very impressive at the Etihad Stadium with regard to the 3-5-2.

This formation could be utilised by Fergie in a way to suit his players and even improve certain aspects of their game.

For example, Antonio Valencia has all the skills to function as a top-tier right wing-back should he be asked, while Rafael, obviously, could fulfil that role with ease.

It would lessen the need to find a new left-back too, as it is Patrice Evra's defending, not attacking, that lays credence to the idea they need to recruit in that area.

Kagawa still gets his glamorous role in attacking midfield, while Wayne Rooney fulfils a versatile role that can vaguely be described as a "second striker." In truth, he'd be all over the pitch, much like he was last season in United's 4-4-1-1, and that means RvP is the pure striker.


Option 4: 4-2-3-1

Before the RvP saga came to fruition, it was widely anticipated that Fergie would switch to a 4-2-3-1 to incorporate Kagawa properly. It would allow attacking fluidity and defensive solidarity.

The Dutchman would act as a lone forward on paper, but in reality, Rooney would drift inward from the left like he did in the days of Carlos Tevez and Cristiano Ronaldo.

Valencia, on the other side, would be comfortable in his traditional ring-wing role, and Kagawa, again, can have his prized trequartista slot.

There's room for two holding midfielders, so Carrick and Scholes can continue their well-established partnership in the middle.



The recruitment of van Persie makes things difficult, but not impossible. It will give the manager a welcome headache ahead of the new season.

United need the squad depth, and van Persie gives Fergie plenty to think about. He should switch it around plenty, and I'm anticipating seeing three or four different formations used next season.

What's your starting XI to include RvP? How does Danny Welbeck fit into this?



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