Carra: How do strikers fit in?

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How does Louis van Gaal fit three strikers into two spots? Jamie Carragher analyses Man Utd’s new era.
Sky Sports pundit Jamie Carragher will be right here each week to cast his expert eye over the forthcoming Premier League games.
The Liverpool legend will have his say on the teams, players, managers and stories surrounding Sky’s live weekend fixtures – and in this column he looks ahead to Sunday’s clash between Manchester United and QPR.
So read on for his thoughts on Louis van Gaal’s striking predicament, why this weekend signals a new era for United and whether Harry Redknapp can keep Queens Park Rangers in the Premier League this season.
How do you expect Manchester United to line up this weekend?
CARRA SAYS: I imagine they’ll keep the 3-5-2 system that they’ve been playing over the first few weeks of the season. A lot depends on how the players have returned from international duty and whether anyone picked up a knock. We know Robin van Persie played a full 90 minutes and Wayne Rooney only came off in the last couple of minutes, so then it all depends on how fit Radamel Falcao is. He may not go straight in to the team as he might need to build his fitness – only Louis van Gaal knows that, but I’d expect Rooney and Van Persie to play up front and have Falcao as a sub until he gets up to speed.
Will Louis van Gaal struggle to fit Rooney, Falcao and Van Persie in to his system?
CARRA SAYS: That’s what Louis van Gaal is paid for – it’s his job as the manager to decide that. Without European games this season it could be more difficult. Once United get back in to Europe, whether that’s the Europa League or Champions League next season, I don’t think it will be a problem because there are so many games. It just might be a problem for a few months this season because there’s not many games to go round in the league. They’ve got three top-class strikers there and the two that perfom the best will play – I think that’s the way Louis van Gaal will have it.
Rio Ferdinand is set to face his former club on Sunday. Could this Manchester United defence benefit from him still being in the team?
CARRA SAYS: Someone like Rio Ferdinand has such class and experience you’d always want him in your squad, but he’s come to the end of his time with Manchester United. Rio and Nemanja Vidic have been great servants to the club but they had to move on. I don’t think it’s so much of a problem that Rio is not at United any more, I think it’s more that they haven’t replaced him. Rio was coming in to that stage of his career that we all get to when you get to 35/36-years-old and you’re not the same as you were when you were 26 – we all go through it. 
They’ve got their new player Marcos Rojo coming in and Tyler Blackett has been playing as well, but both don’t have much Premier League experience. While Phil Jones and Chris Smalling have got that experience in terms of playing for United, the question is whether they can fill the void of Vidic and Ferdinand? That remains to be seen and over the season we’ll find out. It’s slightly surprising, with the way that they’ve spent, that they haven’t brought in a traditional central defender before the deadline and I think United fans would say that themselves.
A foreign manager and over £150million spent on new signings this summer, are we looking at a new era at Manchester United?
CARRA SAYS: Yes I think so. The transfer window is all done now and they’ve built their squad and have the players in. There was so much speculation about the players they were going to bring in during their first few games but now they,  and everyone else, knows that’s the squad of players they will have until January. They’ve got to improve and they will do. United will start picking up results and points because they’ve got some world and top-class players there. I expect them to beat QPR at Old Trafford this Sunday.
There have also been plenty of outgoings at the club – including Danny Welbeck. Will they miss him?
CARRA SAYS: That remains to be seen. I don’t think he was ever going to be Manchester United’s number one striker but he was always a very good squad player to bring in – he had that pace. It will be interesting to see what role he plays for Arsenal, with Olivier Giroud out the moment you’d expect him to play though the middle, but when Giroud is back, will Welbeck ever be a number one striker for a top four team? He’s got to keep producing what he did for England this week at club level on a regular basis, as Daniel Sturridge has done at Liverpool since he joined. He needs to prove he can be a number one striker for a top team and I think that’s why United and Van Gaal let him go, they didn’t feel that and they knew they were bringing Falcao in.
Speaking of strikers, is that something QPR are lacking?
CARRA SAYS: We know they went in for Jermain Defoe and Fabio Borini this transfer window – so obviously Harry Redknapp felt that and they haven’t scored enough goals. Charlie Austin scored a lot was very good for them in the Championship last season, but that’s obviously something Harry felt still needed improving and that’s why he made the bids for Borini and Defoe. Unfortunately for him they didn’t come off.
Now, everyone knows what squad they’ve got and they’ve just got to go with that now until January. There’s a lot of talk when a season starts about signings and different players coming and going. If I’m being honest, I’d probably like to see the transfer window close before the first game so we can go into the season with the squads sorted and teams knowing who they’ve got, but it is what it is from now until January and there’s been some top players bought and you’d expect that they’ll do well.
QPR haven’t got off to the best start this season, are they going to struggle to stay up?
CARRA SAYS: The three promoted teams haven’t started that great, but you have to look at Harry Redknapp’s experience because it might prove important for QPR over the season. They haven’t started brilliantly but he’s brought a few players in now. They have to improve but Harry has got such fantastic experience in the Premier League of keeping teams up. I’m sure it’s going to be a difficult season for them but with the experience you’d like to think they can pull something off.

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