Manchester United have lamented the lack of attacking wide play this season. However the style of play during the thrashing of FC Midjtylland often felt like a nostalgic dream as a team trying to put all men behind the ball were at times torn apart by our wide players. I enjoyed this particular excerpt from Sir Alex’s most recent literary offering and the Europa league game reminded me why I have always loved watching United through the years.
“I found some observations in books about military history relevant to football. Every general has to learn the best time to attack and when it is better to be conservative. Oddly, this was reiterated by a training course I attended with the SAS, who explained how the mounted attacks by outflanking and diverting the enemy on either side and then launching a deadly assault down the middle. One year we took the whole United squad to the SAS training grounds in Hertfordshire for a couple of days during a break in the season. They gave us a taste of everything – winching descents from helicopters, the shooting range, and simulated break ups of hostage situations. The players loved it. One lesson I took from the SAS was the effectiveness of a battle formation, where troops attacking on the flanks create softness in the central defences. I took that lesson right to the training pitch where we worked on it for a week before a Liverpool game. I had players attacking the back post and the front post and then Gary Pallister came from right outside the centre of the box to score. In fact Pallister scored twice using the same ploy. It could have been a re-enactment of a battle plan – except none of the TV commentators picked up on that.”