Sir Alex Ferguson says he will adapt United's tactics this season, identifying a need to readjust the team's approach in order to produce the goals that the departed Cristiano Ronaldo provided.
“Obviously Cristiano is a big loss in terms of the goals he gave us,” said the gaffer in the new issue of Inside United (on sale 5 August). “But we’ll just have to find the goals from somewhere else, and our tactics will adjust accordingly. Fans will see us playing a slightly different style of football this season.”
Rather than ask Wayne Rooney to operate out wide, Sir Alex intends to play him up top alongside Michael Owen or Dimitar Berbatov, who the boss sees as being a key player this term.
“Last season was a strange one for Dimitar and we maybe didn’t use him in the right way, but we know exactly how to use him now – further up the pitch, playing as a centre forward,” said Sir Alex. “He’s had a first season to settle in, he can get us more than 20 goals.”
Whatever the formation United adopt for any given match, according to Ryan Giggs the players have the versatility to adapt.
“The team has adapted well to whatever system we've played, whether it’s 4-4-2 or three in midfield," he says. “We’ve got that flexibility in the squad. With Antonio Valencia coming in, it might be a bit more of a rigid 4-4-2 system, but we’ll have to see.”
The gaffer has emphasised the need for United to collectively step up to the goalscoring plate this season as well. The boss has set some demanding team and individual goal targets, challenging his men to reach the magic three figures.
“Usually you look to score about 100 goals in all competitions, so we’re aiming for that again,” Sir Alex said. “If we’re going to win the league again or do well in Europe we certainly need players to step up and help fill [the gap left by Ronaldo].
"Wayne’s capable of scoring 18 or more, and if Michael plays 25 games for me next season, I think he’ll get 15 goals.”
Beyond the three main strikers, Sir Alex demands an increased yield from the midfield, plus a contribution from the youngsters.
“Going back a few years, we could always guarantee goals from Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs