Wayne Rooney urges Erik ten Hag to ‘cheat a bit’ in the FA Cup final with roles of Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial… admitting Jose Mourinho made Chelsea ‘so difficult to play against’ with the same tactic
- Man United can stop rivals City from winning a historic Treble in Saturday’s final
- Rooney feels Ten Hag needs to ‘gamble a bit’ to get the better of Pep Guardiola
- The United legend has urged him to leave Rashford and Martial high up the pitch
Wayne Rooney believes Erik ten Hag should take a leaf out of Jose Mourinho’s book in Saturday’s all-Manchester FA Cup final.
Man United will bid to stop arch-rivals Man City from emulating their historic 1998-99 Treble-winning campaign when the two neighbours go head to head at Wembley next weekend.
City have already got their hands on the Premier League title and will also contest next month’s Champions League final, meaning they stand a strong chance of winning all three major trophies this season.
However, standing in their way of the second of those trophies on Saturday is United, who have the chance to end their Treble hopes in the FA Cup final
And in order to do so, Rooney has urged Ten Hag to ‘cheat a bit’ with the roles of forwards Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial by leaving them high up the pitch so they are ready to counter-attack City.
Wayne Rooney feels Erik ten Hag (left) should emulate Jose Mourinho (right) in the FA Cup final
Ten Hag;s Man United go head to head with rivals Man City at Wembley in Saturday’s final
United legend Rooney has urged Ten Hag to ‘gamble a bit’ to stop City’s Treble pursuit
The United legend recalls Mourinho using the same tactic during his first spell as Chelsea manager, describing it as ‘difficult to play against’.
In his column for The Times, Rooney wrote: ‘For City’s players, staff and supporters, the FA Cup final will feel no less significant than it does for United and I’m expecting an exciting, tight game. I have a feeling it’s going to go to extra-time and penalties and, for some reason, I feel United will win. I certainly hope they do.
‘How could they do it? Well, I think Erik ten Hag has to gamble a bit.
‘What City have had so much of during the incredible run they’re on is control. Teams have put 11 men behind the ball against them, hoping to keep it tight, but that has meant City not having to worry too much about what the opposition may do with the ball. It has allowed them to play the game they want to play.
‘My strategy would be to go the other way and ask City to do something different. I’d try something similar to a tactic José Mourinho sometimes deployed in his first spell at Chelsea, where he would get the likes of Joe Cole, Arjen Robben and Damien Duff to take up “half” positions where they didn’t come all the way back and defend when Chelsea were out of possession but instead cheat a bit and wait higher up the pitch in areas from which they could counterattack as soon as Chelsea won the ball back.
‘We always found it difficult to play against. When you were attacking, you were thinking, “Where’s Robben? Where’s Cole? Who’s staying back? What’s the communication like to make sure we’re dealing with those players?”
Rooney feels the United boss should leave Anthony Martial (left) and Marcus Rashford (right) high up the pitch when out of possession to counter-attack City
He recalls Mourinho using the same tactic with the likes of Arjen Robben at Chelsea
‘United could do similar using Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial: defend with eight players and have those two waiting in counterattack positions. That would ask City different questions: should John Stones still come into the midfield or would it leave that side of the pitch open for Rashford to run into? Should Kyle Walker go high or would this open up space?’
As well as thwarting City’s Treble plans, United can put the icing on the cake of an impressive first season under Ten Hag, who has already sealed Champions League qualification and won the League Cup.
They will be up against it at Wembley, nevertheless, with City’s last defeat in all competitions coming back in February.
‘I would set United up 4-4-2,’ Rooney continued, ‘with Martial and Rashford up top and a very solid midfield behind them: Casemiro in the middle with Christian Eriksen, or even Scott McTominay, and Bruno Fernandes and Fred either side. I’d want to keep the distances between my eight defending players small.
‘Everyone in football knows that if you get a good block of eight players, do it well and keep your discipline, it’s very difficult to break you down. United have had a few successes against City in recent years playing on the counterattack — often with Rashford and Martial to the fore.
‘Playing my way carries risks but I feel you have to risk it against City and ask questions that force them to do something different. Gamble and they may punish you but if you just sit back you’re going to get punished by them anyway — so why not take the initiative and try something?’
Post source: Daily mail