3-4-1-2

stevoc

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And Solskjær has won it!
Also their system was peculiar because at the time Rijkaard was used to play as a CB and Reiziger/F. De Boer were initially fullbacks, so Ajax had the ability to completely change their structure when needed.
Yeah Rijkaard was brilliant in that system. As I remember it he sat in front of the back three. Dropped into defence when needed but stepped up into midfield when Ajax had the ball. As you say they could change their shape transisitioning from defence to attack.
 

Lynty

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Yeah Rijkaard was brilliant in that system. As I remember it he sat in front of the back three. Dropped into defence when needed but stepped up into midfield when Ajax had the ball. As you say they could change their shape transisitioning from defence to attack.
Didn't the two wide defenders also play like inverted wingbacks, tucking central and Blind was a traditional sweeper.

The two midfielders beside Rijkaard had to track the wingers back.

Really unique team
 

stevoc

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And Solskjær has won it!
Didn't the two wide defenders also play like inverted wingbacks, tucking central and Blind was a traditional sweeper.

The two midfielders beside Rijkaard had to track the wingers back.

Really unique team
Yeah it was a brilliant system, I was young when I watched them so I might be misremembering. But I always imagined that system as a series of overlapping diamonds.
 

Lee565

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In the right hands it could work, managers like pep and tuchel use actual wingers for the wing back positions like sane and odoi.

Problem is mr "united way" ole would use fullbacks and two defensive midfielders and play more like 532.
 

roonster09

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In the right hands it could work, managers like pep and tuchel use actual wingers for the wing back positions like sane and odoi.

Problem is mr "united way" ole would use fullbacks and two defensive midfielders and play more like 532.
Yeah and Ole will use CMs for CB positions. I mean it might have happened once or twice, so lets use that to say we play CMs as CBs.

Tuchel uses Reece James, Azpi, Chilwell, Alonso as wingbacks. They are not wingers, they are Fullbacks/Wingbacks.
 

Lee565

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Yeah and Ole will use CMs for CB positions. I mean it might have happened once or twice, so lets use that to say we play CMs as CBs.

Tuchel uses Reece James, Azpi, Chilwell, Alonso as wingbacks. They are not wingers, they are Fullbacks/Wingbacks.
Tuchel used odoi in the wing back position. Even you look at conte he used a winger in moses as a wing back as well, deploying wingers in the wing back position can work.
 

roonster09

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Tuchel used odoi in the wing back position. Even you look at conte he used a winger in moses as a wing back as well, deploying wingers in the wing back position can work.
I didn't say it won't work. We played Valencia as fullback, so I'm sure every ManUtd fan knows it can work.

Also Pep won't play Sane as wingback or fullback but he can play players like Zinchenko, Delph as LB. You need players who are capable of adapting to the position.

Point is, CHO doesn't play as wingback except in few games. Reece James, Azpi plays almost all games as wingback and Alonso and Chillwell as LWB.
 

Lynty

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In the right hands it could work, managers like pep and tuchel use actual wingers for the wing back positions like sane and odoi.

Problem is mr "united way" ole would use fullbacks and two defensive midfielders and play more like 532.
We have wingers? Or are you suggesting Rashford as a wing back?
 

youmeletsfly

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I think any formation with 3 defenders will be too narrow, given our lack of obvious options for the RWB position and Shaw being out of form and suddenly forgetting how to bomb forward. Maybe Lingard deserves a shout there, but it's still untested and we're at a stage in the championship where we can't afford experiments.
It's very hard to even predict what our best lineup would be these days, due to the lack of a midfielder that can receive the ball from the CB's and move it forward quickly, one with decent defensive positioning as well.

People are shouting for the Fred + DVB + Pogba midfield, but that would be very suspect when defending. For this to work we'd need a top quality coaching setup.
In addition, I still feel sick when Pogba and Bruno pick up the ball deep and have 0 fecking passing options. These two together create a very unbalanced team, both when attacking(no passing options -> slow build up play) and both when defending (space between midfield and attack is huge -> unbalanced pressing).

I think it's the first time I really struggle to see how this current crop of players would make a balanced setup and it's a bit worrying.
 

DWelbz19

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We have 3 fit center back options and 6 wingers. Any narrow formation is a waste of resources.
Exactly this. We have too many wide attackers to fit in anything other than a back 4 with wingers.
 

OpenIntrovert

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The 3-4-1-2 or 3-5-2 has already been used by Solskjaer against PSG and Liverpool before, so it is not a new formation for him. Typically Solskjaer uses this formation against teams who have marauding fullbacks as part of their attack or teams who have 3 forwards. The formation helps to balance the defensive workload in the midfield while still allowing room for attacking freedom.

The 4-2-3-1 that Solskjaer uses is currently the best tactic considering the wide array of attackers that he has. The problem however is defensive/central midfield area where Solskjaer has no choice but to rely on makeshift defensive midfielders in the form of Fred and McTominay. Both of them have incredible stamina and workrate which is why Solskjaer relies on them most often, but at the same time they are also the weakest link as it is not their original position. Teams like Aston Villa and Everton have gotten results simply by overriding McFred with a 5 man midfield.


I see 2 possible ways Solskjaer might go in terms of tactic. One is the 3-5-2 formation (might happen against Leicester considering injuries at the back) or the other way is to use forwards who can track back in the 4-2-3-1 formation. With Rashford back, it is highly possible that Rashford and Sancho will play either side of Bruno to create a better defensive balance, since both are very good at tracking back. High chance it will be the latter in most games with the 3-5-2 reserved against teams like Liverpool and Chelsea.
 

OleTheGreat

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Watching France tonight against Spain, I couldn't help but wonder if a 3-4-1-2 formation, similar to what France play, might not suite us given our dearth of options in central midfield? Apart from the French players we possess, there are a lot of analogies from the French team to ours (Griezmann--> Fernandes; Benzema --> Ronaldo; Mbappe --> Greenwood). Though there are different options, I figure it could look something like this:

----------------------------------------De Gea---------------------------------------
-----Wan Bissaka/Lindelof---------Varane-----------Maguire----------------

Dalot/VDB--------McTominay---------------Pogba-----------------Shaw------------
-------------------------------------Fernandes---------------------------------
-------------------Greenwood-------------------Ronaldo-------------------------

The only position where we don't have an obvious solution is on the right (as I don't believe WB offers enough going forward as a RWB, but otherwise that looks solid to me. What say you?
I would've certainly accepted this before Sancho got here but with the likes of Ronaldo and Sancho in, this wouldn't work.
 

Lee565

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You got to question ole's transfer strategy as much as previous managers, it seems like he is creating the same square pegs in round holes situation that we seen previously.

He has made a mess of the balance of the team and his transfer business doesn't look well thought out.
 

talking robot

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With our injury crisis at CB, I would consider this formation against Leicester City as a short term solution (even if I agree with many people that this can't be the way forward long term given the money we spent on Jadon Sancho). Assuming Fred and Cavani are also out, I would go with this team:

------------------------De Gea-----------------------
--------Bailly------Lindelof-------Shaw----------
VDB--------McTominay----Pogba-------Telles
---------------------Fernandes------------
------Greenwood---------Ronaldo----------
 

TheGame

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VDB is not a wing back, should not be played there. This system can work as an alternate to the 4-2-3-1 and should be perhaps deployed against better teams however cannot be played all the time as there is only space for 2 front men (1 probably with Ronaldo and therefore it would mean Sancho, Rashford, Martial, Cavani and Greenwood all on the bench. I actually think McTominay could play one of the 3 at the back like he does for Scotland.
 

talking robot

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VDB is not a wing back, should not be played there. This system can work as an alternate to the 4-2-3-1 and should be perhaps deployed against better teams however cannot be played all the time as there is only space for 2 front men (1 probably with Ronaldo and therefore it would mean Sancho, Rashford, Martial, Cavani and Greenwood all on the bench. I actually think McTominay could play one of the 3 at the back like he does for Scotland.
You're probably right about VDB. I just so dislike the look of the team with Wan Bissaka in the wing back role due to lack of creativity and ball control, which VDB would provide.
 

stefan92

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I think you could play a slightly asymmetric system based on a formation like this:

---------- Ronaldo -------- Greenwood -------------
----------------------Bruno ----------------------------------
Shaw--- McTominay ------ Fred ------ Sancho
------- Varane------ Maguire ------ AWB -----------

Sancho could play much more attacking than Shaw, as AWB would be comfortable stepping out on the wing if Sancho is too far ahead.

This way you really could field four attacking players while playing a 3-4-1-2 (more an asymmetric 3-3-2-2 maybe). That way United could strengthen the central defence by weakening the attacking potential on one wing, but not on both. I also think such a triangle of Bruno, Greenwood and Sancho on the right could bring out the best out of all three. Sancho would get the players to link up to that he needs for his play, and Greenwood and Bruno could get to score on his assists.
 

roonster09

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I think you could play a slightly asymmetric system based on a formation like this:

---------- Ronaldo -------- Greenwood -------------
----------------------Bruno ----------------------------------
Shaw--- McTominay ------ Fred ------ Sancho
------- Varane------ Maguire ------ AWB -----------

Sancho could play much more attacking than Shaw, as AWB would be comfortable stepping out on the wing if Sancho is too far ahead.

This way you really could field four attacking players while playing a 3-4-1-2 (more an asymmetric 3-3-2-2 maybe). That way United could strengthen the central defence by weakening the attacking potential on one wing, but not on both. I also think such a triangle of Bruno, Greenwood and Sancho on the right could bring out the best out of all three. Sancho would get the players to link up to that he needs for his play, and Greenwood and Bruno could get to score on his assists.
How is it any different from 4-2-3-1 we play, Shaw and AWB are FBs, Sancho and Greenwood are wingers/wing forward. 2 CMs, Bruno as AM.

Only slight difference is asking AWB to stop making the runs.
 

stefan92

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How is it any different from 4-2-3-1 we play, Shaw and AWB are FBs, Sancho and Greenwood are wingers/wing forward. 2 CMs, Bruno as AM.

Only slight difference is asking AWB to stop making the runs.
Yes, it is not a big change. Playing Sancho and Greenwood on the same wing together is however a difference. United often struggles to break down low blocks, and I could imagine that them linking up together on one wing could be much more effective than them being isolated, or only supported by AWB. The opponent could not afford to let too many players rush to stop them, as that would mean opening up too much space for Ronaldo on the left side of the box.
 

TheGame

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You're probably right about VDB. I just so dislike the look of the team with Wan Bissaka in the wing back role due to lack of creativity and ball control, which VDB would provide.
Yes agree, probably could do with a more attacking player than AWB but VDB over there won't work. At the moment, it will be Dalot or maybe even Lingard at a push.
 

Abraxas

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I don't like it. I don't see how you can play 3 at the back formations with suspect wing backs. It's extremely important in that formation. They have to be the out ball and have good technique, they have to be able to motor up and down all game and all season, they have to defend high and win the battle against the opposition full backs. We just don't have the personnel, they are either not of the quality required or unsuited to the role or both.

We also lack depth positionally for the formation. What do we do when our decent full backs are tired, or a CB? We have to bring in vastly inferior players because we didn't build the squad for this formation.

It's a nice idea because other teams have been successful with it but it doesn't mean it automatically suits us, it just doesn't. Yes you get a body around Ronaldo but I think we'd be better off finding ways to do this within a formation that doesn't ask awkward questions of the squad.
 

Lee565

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Yes agree, probably could do with a more attacking player than AWB but VDB over there won't work. At the moment, it will be Dalot or maybe even Lingard at a push.
Lingard is a good shout for that position as I remember van gaal trying him there before he suffered an injury set back.
 

Lynty

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Well, the Varane injury has pretty much decided it.

I think we'll be seeing 5 at the back quite a bit over the next 6 games.

-‐---------- Ronaldo ‐-- Rashford ‐------------

----‐ Pogba --- Mctominay --- Bruno -----

Telles -- Shaw -- Bailly -- Lindelof -- AWB

With a focus on counters
 
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Yeah it was a brilliant system, I was young when I watched them so I might be misremembering. But I always imagined that system as a series of overlapping diamonds.
It was the classic Cruyff and Michels' principle of diamonds in defence, midfield and attack to always have a spare man in each zone and extra passing lanes. Though LVG's had next to no player position rotation, beyond Rikjkaard constantly switching between center half and DM, and blind switching between libero and center half.
 

hmchan

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Well, the Varane injury has pretty much decided it.

I think we'll be seeing 5 at the back quite a bit over the next 6 games.

-‐---------- Ronaldo ‐-- Rashford ‐------------

----‐ Pogba --- Mctominay --- Bruno -----

Telles -- Shaw -- Bailly -- Lindelof -- AWB

With a focus on counters
The Varane injury has pretty much decided we can't play a back 3/5.
 

Okey

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With the team we have, Ole's 4-2-3-1 actually makes a lot of sense. We have so many wide forwards that 2 will need to be in any line up. We just need a better midfield 2 and better coaching of the team set up in general. There's enough in that team to give Ronaldo all the supply he needs if coached properly.
 

Lynty

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The Varane injury has pretty much decided we can't play a back 3/5.
You think?

I think it's more likely we'll see a Shaw or McTominay starting in a back 3 then sending out Lindelof -Bailly vs Liverpool
 

sparx99

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this is the EPL. The flanks are used extensively. Also note that Rijkaard and Davids would probably eat our midfield for breakfast. Its like pitting Gregor Clegane against Tyrion Lannister
technically Cruyff used a lot of full backs as wide cb’s so our likely selection could

de Gea

Shaw
Maguire
Varane

mcTominay
Van de beek
Pogba
Bruno

rashford
Ronaldo
Greenwood

if we are going to play total football our sole Dutch lad has to play!
 

sparx99

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You could also play Rashford and Sancho as wingers in a 3-4-3 but you then have very little attacking options on the bench.

De Gea/H

Shaw/Bailly
Maguire/Lindelof
Varane/AWB

Sancho
McTominay/Van De Beek
Pogba/Fred
Rashford/Telles

Bruno

Greenwood/Martial
Ronaldo/Cavani

the problem with any of these total football styles is I don’t believe our coaches have the attention to detail to enact them and our players are too careless generally. We are better suited to fast direct football. We’ll score more than you. We fail when we try to control the game.
 

AgentSmith

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I actually think this back 3...

Shaw - Maguire - Varane
...would be perfect on paper.

You then throw in the fact it allows us to play Pogba and Bruno in a midfield that wouldn’t fall apart structurally due to the solidity behind them, as well as having Ronaldo and Greenwood play as strikers who can operate in their favoured positions on the pitch (left-hand and right-hand channels), and it starts to look very attractive. Having Greenwood closer to Ronaldo would help them both as Ronaldo wouldn’t be left isolated with two CB’s in the manner he has been in recent games and Greenwood would be positioned even closer to goal.

I also really like the idea of Shaw being able to step up out of defence in a more central area to help support the midfield.

Ronaldo - Greenwood
Bruno
LWB - Fred - Pogba - RWB
Shaw - Maguire - Varane
De Gea​

The idea falls apart, however, when you consider our options for the wing-back position and the fact we’d be potentially relegating Rashford and Sancho to the bench in favour of Telles and AWB. We could potentially play one, preferably Rashford due to his pace and physique, in the wing-back slot in the manner that Tuchel does with CHO but it feels forced. And given it would be AWB on the opposite flank it would, I feel, just turn into a lop-sided 4-2-3-1 anyways.

If we had signed Hakimi in the summer then I think this idea would be a runner, especially if we followed that up with Tchouaméni in January. We could rotate Shaw and Rashford in the LWB role as well, depending on the opposition, by playing Lindelof in the tougher games.

Ronaldo - Greenwood
Bruno
Rashford - Pogba - Tchouaméni - Hakimi
Shaw - Maguire - Varane
De Gea​

Nonetheless, AWB’s limitations on the ball, and the signing of Sancho, make this idea ultimately unfeasible. Wan-Bissaka I still think can be easily upgraded upon but we should really be looking to incorporate Sancho fully and so a system that suits him, rather than excludes him, is the one to go for.

How you do that while simultaneously including Ronaldo, Bruno, and Pogba in their best positions is the question that will ultimately decide Ole’s future. There’s no easy answer and the painful absence of a proper CDM in the squad just confounds the issue.
 
Last edited:

VidaRed

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----------------------------------DDG---------------------------------------
----------Lindelof---------Varane----------Maguire--------------
---AWB-----------Donny------------Matic---------------Shaw---
---------------------------------Bruno--------------------------------------
---------------Greenwood----------Cavani--------------------------