Why Kevin Strootman Would Be a Great Tactical Fit for Manchester UnitedJanuary 21, 2013
Kevin Strootman is not just a name Manchester United fans should desire because of the repeated links and speculation—it's a name they should desire because he'd settle in perfectly at Old Trafford.
Often, when you see media outlets consistently link your club to you start to believe they must be a good fit. It was certainly the case with Arsenal's Marouane Chamakh, and fans ended up disappointed with his limited abilities.
But the Strootman link is not that kind of deal. It's one that fits perfectly.
Manchester United's current system is tough to put your finger on. It's a free-flowing, attack-minded shape that allows interchanging of players and positions at will.
It's remarkable how versatile the majority of United's starting XI is, but what's even more impressive is the understanding they've forged after the drastic changes Robin van Persie has brought to the team.
When you watch PSV Eindhoven, you're struck with similar thoughts.
Luciano Narsingh, Georginio Wijnaldum and Dries Mertens form an interchangeable advanced midfield line, while Strootman looks like a classic No. 10 stuck in the No. 6 role alongside Atiba Hutchinson or Mark van Bommel.
I've looked at both Michael Carrick's and Tom Cleveley's roles within Sir Alex Ferguson's side recently, and on balance Strootman fits like a dream.
Look at these two images.
First is Strootman, playing in the No. 6 role, but surging forward in a Sami Khedira-esque fashion to become an offensive presence in the opposition's penalty area.
Second is Cleverley doing an incredibly similar thing but from a deeper position—both play in a double pivot but have license to break forward, and both are defensively able while remaining an offensive threat.
Strootman should not viewed as a replacement for Cleverley, but a keep-fresh alternative. Despite his attacking tendencies, he's also fully capable of playing a restricted role like Carrick does.
What Fergie could be landing here is a player who's disciplined but multi-talented—a player who can fulfill any of three roles in United's midfield.
The Dutch path to glory is well set out at Old Trafford. Could Strootman be the next one to benefit come summer time?