Manchester United legend Wayne Rooney has urged current manager Erik ten Hag to take a “gamble” and “cheat a bit” in the upcoming FA Cup final against Manchester City. The former striker believes that only a major shake-up in tactics will be enough to stop City from potentially winning a treble this season.
Pep Guardiola’s side are looking to emulate Sir Alex Ferguson’s legendary class of 1999 by beating the Red Devils at Wembley next weekend. They have already secured the Premier League title this campaign, and are now hoping to add the FA Cup and Champions League trophies to their collection.
Rooney has suggested that Ten Hag should take a leaf out of Jose Mourinho’s book and deploy a tactic that the Portuguese manager used during his first spell at Chelsea. This involved getting attacking players such as 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 was out of possession. Instead, they would wait higher up the pitch in areas from which they could counterattack as soon as Chelsea won the ball back.
Rooney believes that United could do something similar by using Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial. They could defend with eight players and have those two waiting in counterattack positions. This would ask City different questions and potentially leave space for Rashford to run into or force John Stones to come into the midfield.
Rooney explained his reasoning to The Times, saying: “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?’”
The former United striker’s advice comes after a disappointing season for the Red Devils, who finished second in the Premier League and were knocked out of the Europa League by Villarreal in the final. Ten Hag will be hoping that Rooney’s experience and knowledge of playing against City will help his team to cause an upset and win the FA Cup.
The match is set to be a thrilling encounter, with both teams possessing an array of attacking talent. The city will be looking to rely on the likes of Kevin De Bruyne, Riyad Mahrez, and Phil Foden to break down United’s defense, while the Red Devils will be hoping that Bruno Fernandes and Edinson Cavani can produce some magic in front of goal.
The FA Cup final is always a special occasion, and this year’s match is no different. With the added spice of a Manchester derby and the chance for City to win a treble, it promises to be a memorable day for both sets of fans. United will be hoping that Rooney’s advice can help them to cause an upset and lift the trophy for the first time since 2016.