Ole needs to keep things fresh by changing around his system. Tribuna.com takes a look at a few different formations he could give a go next season and why they could work.
Ever since taking the helm at Man United, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has fielded two different formations using his available players. The 4-2-3-1 formation has been a staple one used, ensuring United have enough attacking grit to produce the exciting style of counter-attacking football the gaffer encourages.
However, the 3-5-2 formation has proved to be really successful against stronger opposition. With a packed backline, it has helped frustrate multiple top sides to keep a strong head-to-head record against top-6 opposition. But change is necessary to keep things from getting stale.
Solskjaer needs to experiment with different formations and get his players used to thriving in different systems. Having multiple tricks up his sleeve is crucial for Ole to remain at the United hot-seat for the long-term. He must broaden his dimensions and come up with different formations to keep oppositions guessing. Here are a few new formations he could try.
It’d be a twist to the 4-2-3-1 he’s currently opting for, but considering the amount of centre-midfielders United currently have, this seems the best option to strike the right balance in the team. Of course, Bruno Fernandes will be the farthermost midfielder, with Paul Pogba and Fred sitting just behind to add more fluidity.
Marcus Rashford will operate through the left-flank, where he’s the most comfortable at driving forward, drifting into the middle to take emphatic shots on goal. But the Englishman could soon have his national teammate Jadon Sancho accompanying him. The Borussia Dortmund winger seems even closer to a move to Old Trafford.
He’ll obviously take up the right-wing spot, from where he delivers quality balls and add that third goal-scoring threat as well. Anthony Martial should also solidify himself as the undisputed centre-forward, creating an attack capable of terrorizing the strongest opposition.
Now this is a formation which hasn’t been used at United since the days of Sir Alex Ferguson! I mean they did try it a few times during David Moyes’ time, but that didn’t work at all. However, there’s a good chance that Ole could bring back this formation next season.
He definitely has the personnel up top to go with a 2-striker formation, which is a rare sight in top-level football these days. Indeed, considering that Odion Ighalo is being signed on a permanent basis, he accompanies Martial up top. With their varied skills, they could work alongside to cause problems with a mix of physicality and pace.
Rashford and Dan James can add more depth with their flash-like nature down the wings, while Fernandes brings the creative genes to light things up. Fred would be sitting ahead of the backline, which must remain vigilant and sit deeper to fend off danger.
There’s another option Solskjaer has rather than reverting towards the 3-5-2 if he wants his team to be more cautious. Rather than packing up his backline, he could instead stock his midfield with an overload of bodies to choke the opposition’s supply with a 4-1-4-1 formation.
Of course Martial being his regular striker leads United’s line and always remain the player farthest up the field. Rashford and James would flank the wings to add that extra bite during counter-attacks, but the midfield must be filled with gritty characters to keep on frustrating oppositions.
Bruno is a no brainer, but the other two have to be defensively stronger with the drive to win possession and get the ball forward. Nemanja Matic is perfect in defensive situations knowing how to shield his backline properly, while Scott McTominay also possesses the energy and physicality to bully opposition midfielders.
Eric Bailly also seems the ideal option to partner Harry Maguire in this as both could use their no-nonsense approach to back up their packed midfielders well. This formation would perhaps give United a better attacking edge over the 3-5-2, which often restricts us to relying on just a few chances.
Well, another interesting way to ensure total domination is by playing a 4-4-2 diamond system which can create a really nice balance to the side. However, in this system, there would be no traditional “wingers” and Ole must encourage Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Luke Shaw to push forward and get into the dangerous areas to supply quality balls into the box.
Just like Ole experimented against Everton, he can go with a full-blown diamond formation for next season. Martial and Rashford up top are capable of terrorizing defenders, while Fred, McTominay and Bruno add enough bodies to dominate midfield and supply creative passes forward.
With Matic protecting the defenders by sitting deep and cutting off the supply-line of oppositions, Fred & McTominay using their doggedness to regain possession and Bruno pulling the strings in a free role, United would have enough power to pack a strong punch.