The 3-4-1-2 formation adopted by Manchester United at the behest of Louis van Gaal is likely to offer Wayne Rooney his best ever chance of being Premier League top scorer at odds of 14/1.
In playing two men in the most advanced line of attack the Dutchman will be recreating the conditions present in the Liverpudlian’s goal-drenched 2009/10 and 2011/12 campaigns.
Both seasons saw Rooney fire in 27 goals, only to be bested by first Didier Drogba, then Robin van Persie in his last year at Arsenal.
Playing alongside Van Persie, rather behind him as part of an attacking midfield three, will free him from the playmaking duties that have hampered his harvest since his colleague’s arrival.
Instead Juan Mata, who averaged 2.2 key passes an outing last term, will take on creative duties, loading the bullets for the gunslingers in front of him from a solid base formed by Ander Herrera and, in time, Michael Carrick.
Would-be Rooney backers needn’t worry about out and out number nine RVP hogging the goals either, with the Everton scholar very much the number ten in his relationship with Javier Hernandez in 2011/12.
Van Gaal has hinted that he will switch to a 4-3-3 if his attempts to instruct the Old Trafford roster in the finer points of his preferred configuration ultimately prove fruitless.
To do so would prove unfortunate for his England international striker’s goal-getting ambitions.
Rooney would surely end up shunted out to one of the wider positions, in which he reaffirmed his reduced effectiveness against Italy at the World Cup, where he occasionally has had to play second fiddle to the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo in the past.
Luckily for him Van Gaal has played 3-4-1-2 in each of United’s three pre-season games to date and remained pleased with their acclimatisation even in the 0-0 draw against Inter last time out.