Over the course of the last few years, and especially when Carlos Queiroz was Sir Alex's assistant, Ferguson has been tinkering with several tactical systems, mainly 4-2-3-1, 4-5-1 and 4-3-3. All of them have been proven to be useful under certain circumstances, but the most fruitful system for Manchester United still is the British standard 4-4-2, including two wide players.
Throughout the winning Premier League 2006/07 season, United played the most exciting football that we've witnessed for a decade. With Edwin van der Sar in goal, and a solid defense made of Gary Neville, Rio Ferdinand, Nemanja Vidić, Patrice Evra, the midfielders Cristiano Ronaldo, Michael Carrick, Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs were able of provide with plenty of fine passes and crosses to Wayne Rooney and Louis Saha, who consolidated a terrific attacking partnership.
The likes of Ronaldo (by then plying his trade as a pure winger) and Giggs turned out to be crucial in that successful season. Both tormented opponent defenses by running down the flanks just to find the right time to assist the strikers or the players coming from the middle of the park.
So, where Shinji Kawaga fit in a conventional 4-4-2 formation? The Japanese playmaker can be sporadically deployed in both flanks or in the hole behind one striker, but his best position is along with Carrick in the middle of the park behind two more advanced players. This system has been scarcely tried so far but it may give food for thought to Sir Alex Ferguson ahead of the last games of the current season.
Nowadays, it is becoming increasingly popular playing without a conventional striker nor wide players and a populated midfield, but the Red Devils should stick to their roots and keep playing the so-called United way. Without wingers, United lacks aggressiveness and are less attacking-minded, resulting more predictable for their opponents. Some might argue that United may find themselves outnumbered in the midfielder, especially against top teams away from home, but a collective effort can make up for it if done properly.