Rooney tells Man Utd boss Ten Hag to ‘gamble’ by deploying Mourinho’s Chelsea tactics against City

Man Utd legend Wayne Rooney looks serious Credit: Alamy
Man Utd legend Wayne Rooney looks serious Credit: Alamy

Wayne Rooney reckons Erik ten Hag should “gamble” and “do something different” when Man Utd face Man City in the FA Cup final next weekend.

The Red Devils will come up against their arch-rivals at Wembley next Saturday as Man Utd aim to stop City from getting their hands on another trophy this season.

Man Utd can turn a good first season under Ten Hag, who has secured a top-four Premier League finish and a Carabao Cup triumph, into a very good campaign if they lift the FA Cup.

The Citizens are on for the Treble this season after winning the Premier League title, with an FA Cup final and Champions League final against Inter Milan standing between Pep Guardiola’s side and greatness.

This current City side are being talked about as one of the best teams that world football has ever seen and Rooney reckons Man Utd will need to do something different to get the better of them next weekend.

Rooney told The Times: “My strategy would be to go the other way and ask City to do something different.

“I’d try something similar to a tactic Jose 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?’

“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?

“I would set United up 4-4-2, 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?”

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