Manchester united’s tactical set-up
Last season, Manchester United played in two distinct ways. Under José Mourinho, United set up in a 4-3-3 with a holding midfielder. They would defend deep and would never attack with more than four players at a time. This is because Mourinho was cautious regarding United’s ability to transition defensively which was, at the time, weak. As such, they played with a deeper line and, even with the ball, their centre backs rarely crossed the half-way line. Under Solskjær, United played far higher up the pitch and utilised quick counter attacks to break teams down. This season, Solskjær seems to have set up in a similar way. Against team that utilise a low block, Solskjær’s plan is to move the way out wide to spread the opposition defence. This, in turn, will create spaces through the middle for the likes of Lingard, Rashford and Martial to exploit.
United will start in a 4-2-3-1 formation. However, Lingard will often play within a 10-yard vertical space which will allow him to drift between the midfield and forward lines. Thus, the formation will often switch between a 4-3-3 (due to Lingard tucking into the midfield) and a 4-4-2 (due to Lingard playing higher up with Martial). Likewise, Rashford will switch with Martial which will give Lingard the responsibility of filling into the midfield. This will require Shaw to push forward from the left if it is left isolated. As one can see there are a few problems with this. Lingard does not have the technical ability to contribute meaningfully in these positions nor is Shaw an offensive fullback to the extent of pushing forward consistently throughout a game.
However, with a new centre midfielder to play alongside Pogba coupled with a left back and an attacking midfielder, United can become one of the most dangerous teams in the world.