Bruno as a false 9 in big games?

AgentSmith

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Our results this season against the stereotypical 'big 6' has been really underwhelming from an attacking perspective compared to last season where it was our strongest trait.

Spurs: 6-1 loss
Chelsea: 0-0 draw
Arsenal: 1-0 loss
City: 0-0 draw
Liverpool: 0-0 draw
Arsenal: 0-0 draw

Scored 1
Conceded 7
4/18 points


The Spurs result obviously skews those numbers (we would have lost that game regardless of the Martial red card but not by 5 goals) but the overall picture is of a team able to defend against the bigger teams but unable to attack at the same time. I think this is largely attributable to the McFred base in midfield providing us with a strong defensive shield but little in the way of creativity or ability with the ball. So in simpler terms, our ability to defend kills our ability to attack.

Pogba is the clear solution to this lack of creativity but by playing him in Solskjaer's favoured midfield 2 we sacrifice the aforementioned defensive stability of the previous pairing. Combine this with the fragility of our defensive triumvirate (De Gea, Lindelof, Maguire) and it's an equally problematic system.

Would moving Bruno into a false 9 role (given he essentially plays as a SS atm already), while relying on Greenwood and Rashford to maintain their current positions as inverted wingers, allow us to play Pogba in a midfield 3 with McTominay and Fred?



Dropping one of Martial or Cavani to the bench to bring Pogba into the midfield seems an effective solution to the issues our midfield suffers from while simultaneously masking the weaknesses Pogba's inclusion entails. We lose some presence up top by dropping Cavani (we lose nothing with Martial) but we gain a lot more from deep while our most effective attackers (Bruno, Rashford and Greenwood) are all still playing in close to their favoured position. McTominay's increased goal-scoring threat breaking through the right-hand side of midfield this season makes it seem all the more workable.

Given the similarity of this system to a diamond formation a lack of width is one of the major issues that seems to pop up. The full-backs become important in providing outlets which obviously presents a problem for our right-hand side. But given most big games are quite closed-off affairs where we look to strike on the counter I don't think it would be too much of an issue given we seem to prefer AWB to focus on shutting down the opposition LW anyways.

In games where we feel more comfortable in our ability to dominate the ball we can drop one of McTominay or Fred to the bench and bring Cavani back into the usual 4-2-3-1 system.

So what say you Caf? An effective alternative to the ineffective 4-2-3-1 in bigger games or the unrealistic ramblings of a football manager wannabe?
 

Handré1990

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I like the idea. Shaw has done really well this season, which we‘d really need in this situation. No idea about how effective Bruno would be as a false 9 though, he’d get a lot more attention from the opposition that’s for sure.
 

Bebestation

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This is what I think VDB and Bruno are for- yet we need creativity from deep when this happens (especially now that Pogba who is our only player is not available).

Ole is very reliant on the SAF technique - more a man management approach to football than tactical perfection that effects players in different ways.

I feel like the reasons we havent tried it is because we need players like Amad to break through and feel comfortable at scoring a goal as inverted forwards. Players like Greenwood need to be given the chance centrally in a 4231 but most likely playing VDB or Bruno as a false 9 will effect players like Martial in the team - a player already low on confidence. Martial is already being looked at an exit yet making him feel like it's our clubs fault that he is failing rather than him not being good enough is two different things.
 

UnrelatedPsuedo

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4 clean sheets in 6 games.

We were 4 goals away from winning 4 out of 6. These games are decided on small margins.

Playing Bruno as a false nine speaks more to fantasy than sensibility. Bruno is at his best coming on to the ball. As a false 9 he’d too often be in front of it. I don’t think it would suit him at all.
 

el3mel

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The formation isn't the issue I believe. We need to change our approach completely in big games because they now know we're setting up for counters so they themselves set up defensively against us, even Pep has been playing with 2 DMFs to shut down our counters. They all know by this they'll either get a draw or can nick a goal and win it all.

Simply put, we have to start approaching big games in more offensive approach imo.
 

romufc

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I think a 4-2-2-2 would work for us.

In this we would be able to get both Donny and Bruno in the team.

Have Rashford and Martial as winger / attackers whilst having Bruno and Donny in the middle ahead of McFred.

Donny and Bruno would be a very good partnership imo.
 

bosnian_red

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I think he'd struggle if he doesn't have someone to play off of in front of him. He's world class as a 10 by making runs and playing off of a striker. Take the striker away and he'll just be crowded out.
 

MyOnlySolskjaer

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Possibly but for me, I always prefer having someone in front of Bruno. What I like about Bruno is the work he does off the ball to track back and press from the middle, I think playing him upfront restricts that.
 

Zen86

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I think we'd be horribly predictable and one-dimensional in attack, even more so than now. The formation we're using at the moment is good, we just need a striker that isn't Martial heading it up.
 

Brexit_Brigade

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It's worth a try, but not with Fred in that position. Disaster waiting to happen.

Matic at the base and one of Fred or McTominay alongside Pogba.
 

AgentSmith

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4 clean sheets in 6 games.

We were 4 goals away from winning 4 out of 6. These games are decided on small margins.

Playing Bruno as a false nine speaks more to fantasy than sensibility. Bruno is at his best coming on to the ball. As a false 9 he’d too often be in front of it. I don’t think it would suit him at all.
We were 4 goals away from losing 6 out of 6. Weird way of looking at those results.

Fair comment on it not suiting Bruno. He probably would lose a lot of freedom by not having Cavani occupying the defenders in front of him. Most of his contributions in the past month have come from a stereotypical CF position though.
 

Adam-Utd

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That's literally just the diamond which we already play at times, see Everton away etc.
 

Okey

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Our results this season against the stereotypical 'big 6' has been really underwhelming from an attacking perspective compared to last season where it was our strongest trait.

Spurs: 6-1 loss
Chelsea: 0-0 draw
Arsenal: 1-0 loss
City: 0-0 draw
Liverpool: 0-0 draw
Arsenal: 0-0 draw

Scored 1
Conceded 7
4/18 points


The Spurs result obviously skews those numbers (we would have lost that game regardless of the Martial red card but not by 5 goals) but the overall picture is of a team able to defend against the bigger teams but unable to attack at the same time. I think this is largely attributable to the McFred base in midfield providing us with a strong defensive shield but little in the way of creativity or ability with the ball. So in simpler terms, our ability to defend kills our ability to attack.

Pogba is the clear solution to this lack of creativity but by playing him in Solskjaer's favoured midfield 2 we sacrifice the aforementioned defensive stability of the previous pairing. Combine this with the fragility of our defensive triumvirate (De Gea, Lindelof, Maguire) and it's an equally problematic system.

Would moving Bruno into a false 9 role (given he essentially plays as a SS atm already), while relying on Greenwood and Rashford to maintain their current positions as inverted wingers, allow us to play Pogba in a midfield 3 with McTominay and Fred?



Dropping one of Martial or Cavani to the bench to bring Pogba into the midfield seems an effective solution to the issues our midfield suffers from while simultaneously masking the weaknesses Pogba's inclusion entails. We lose some presence up top by dropping Cavani (we lose nothing with Martial) but we gain a lot more from deep while our most effective attackers (Bruno, Rashford and Greenwood) are all still playing in close to their favoured position. McTominay's increased goal-scoring threat breaking through the right-hand side of midfield this season makes it seem all the more workable.

Given the similarity of this system to a diamond formation a lack of width is one of the major issues that seems to pop up. The full-backs become important in providing outlets which obviously presents a problem for our right-hand side. But given most big games are quite closed-off affairs where we look to strike on the counter I don't think it would be too much of an issue given we seem to prefer AWB to focus on shutting down the opposition LW anyways.

In games where we feel more comfortable in our ability to dominate the ball we can drop one of McTominay or Fred to the bench and bring Cavani back into the usual 4-2-3-1 system.

So what say you Caf? An effective alternative to the ineffective 4-2-3-1 in bigger games or the unrealistic ramblings of a football manager wannabe?
Pretty much the diamond formation, which we've used before. I agree with you. Probably optimises our strengths. Not like we have proper wingers anyway. I'm hoping Pogba is fit for the Citeh game cos this should be the line up against them.
 

tomaldinho1

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The formation isn't the issue I believe. We need to change our approach completely in big games because they now know we're setting up for counters so they themselves set up defensively against us, even Pep has been playing with 2 DMFs to shut down our counters. They all know by this they'll either get a draw or can nick a goal and win it all.

Simply put, we have to start approaching big games in more offensive approach imo.
Exactly. Pep dropped 6 points to us last season and, especially in the 2-1 win, it was crazy how easy they were to counter attack & Ederson made so many errors under pressure. Lampard also dropped points and shipped a lot of goals. Both of those managers came to OT and just wrote the game off, they knew it'd likely be a draw because we don't really offer much else (as those games proved) offensively.

You can play offensive, more possession based football with our system we're just choosing not to.
 

Lentwood

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I think it's worth a try. I don't see Rashford or Martial as viable options for the CF position and I still feel Greenwood needs time. Not many forwards play as a lone, central CF at 19.

Bruno can be wasteful but his little lay-off's with back to goal to start counter-attacks are great. We all know how hard he works and how good of a finisher he is, so that also works in his favour.

We could field Pogba, Matic, van de Beek and Fernandes in this scenario. Too much quality on the ball there for most teams, surely!
 

Bebestation

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I think we need a CDM for this diamond with Bruno false 9 & if Pogba stays:

Rashford - Greenwood
Bruno
Pogba - VDB
CDM​

That would be our most attacking line up whilst Fred & Mctomminay play as the middle partnership when we need to be more defensively capable.
 

Lee565

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I think it is an option to be used at times, maybe even mata and beek could fill that false 9 role as well? I would also further suggest cavani being used out on the right wing in certain games, he has such a great high work ethic that he would be great for tracking back and working the opposition fullback to death, it would be much like how fergie use to put the likes of park, rooney and welbeck on the wings in big matches to support the fullbacks and be a non stop menace to opposition fullback.
 

Sky1981

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Gotta love thread like these. Why not put x in y.

It's not that simple. It's not about putting x on y. Its the approach of the whole team. Moving bruno as false nine means bigger gaps in midfield. It'll also affect how the striker should play. Ideally you need a strong forward to hold up defender. Which means our striker would also need to change their playstyle.

With a false nine you'd also want support from the winger. Solid midfield as bruno would be bombing forward alot more.

When you shift your forward and winger you'd need to adjust your backline, as well as your whole shape as bruno would need space to make runs. Which means deeper defensive line, which means you're more open to long ball, and so on and so forth. You need to change not only how bruno plays but the whole team.

Before you know it everyone in the starting xi would need to change how they play. It's good if your team is technically savvy enough tactics wise. I doubt our lineup can afford several variations, we cant even master our basic bread and butter formation.

Which is why most managers have 1 solid formation and probably a variation agreed upon. You cant simply improvise and move players around as if they're chess piece. Any variation should be agreed upon from the start.

You can make several minor tweak. Change marking, plan b, push forward, up the tempo, but formation wise It's very hard to pull without coordination.

And that is before we account on opponents reaction and lineup. A strong DM would nullify false nine, and deep defensive lineup would meant a djfferent approach. Not to mention opponent manager might see the moves and counter play it.

Even if it can be done it will take time to implement and make everyone comfortable with the changes.

Tldr It's not as simple as putting x in y.
 

tjb

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Why should we take Bruno out of the position that he has been most effective for us? I'm sorry but the reason he has as much impact as he does also stems from the fact that we don't really have any other consistent forces of creativity in the side. Maybe switching to a 433 in big games or even playing him off the flanks cutting in may be effective, but I really don't believe moving him forward ( relying on the creativity of others) is a good idea. City can do this because they also have Gundogan/Silva and even Rodri who can consistently keep the tempo and get the ball to our attackers.
 

Borys

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We absolutely have the players for 3 man midfield setup, but we never ever go for it. Whenever we use diamond/4-2-2-2, Pogba roams around and finds himself on the wing a lot, not sure if he's instructed to do so but he certainly gravitates to the left effectively making us play two man midfield. Whenever we play Matic - Pogba midfield, the former drops into defense leaving Paul on his own in the middle. Yesterday was the first time Matic played proper midfielder and see how it went.

I'm all for 3-man midfield in big games, in fact I believe we have MANY ways to utilize this formation because it fits Matic, Pogba, van de Beek, even Fred as he can torment and chase around like a mad dog. Question mark about McTominay but on his recent form he definitely plays on the right in 4-3-3.

Our biggest issue in my opinion is the distance between front 4 (whatever formation we use) and back six. This happens every single time when we face any sign of pressing, see yesterday first half. I think this is because we try to force very direct football - Bruno has this "only forward" mode which is fun when it works, but frustrating when we can't hold the ball for more than 5 seconds.

Anyway, what you suggest is basically what we did yesterday just with one more added midfielder. I don't count Martial as a football player on current "form".

Positives:
  • Bruno can be wasteful
  • more control in midfield, suits all our midfielders
  • can have Matic sitting in front of the defense and help out with aerial threat
  • fullbacks will have more cover so can be more adventurous
  • strikers can play more centrally, Rashford doesn't need to act as a make-shift winger
  • can use two strikers of 3 decent options (Rashford/Cavani/Greenwood) meaning one of them can have a rest
Negatives:
  • Can't play that without Matic
  • Fred will have more opportunities to shoot
All that is irrelevant anyway, as like I said in the beginning- Ole never uses 3 man midfield.
 

Sunny Jim

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I've been saying this for a while now. I really like the False 9 formation as shown in the OP..it's a fluid system that gives more control of the middle the park. If both wingers stay high up and wide there are also fantastic counter attacking out let. If oppostion focus on the then they neglect middle of the park. Good formation but i see it as reactive formation.
 

Berbasbullet

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Only issue is Bruno isn’t that strong and quick but I’d like to see it tried.
 

lost7

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The thing is Bruno has scored a lot of goals thanks in part to the movements of Cavani in front him. I don't think Bruno would be as effective as a false 9 unless Rashford and Greenwood worked hard to make runs in the box (which they don't do often enough).

Then again, this was the system we used at the beginning of Ole's regime against the likes of Spurs in London with Lingard taking the false 9 position. And that worked quite well (although De Gea was a monster in that game lol)
 

croadyman

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The formation isn't the issue I believe. We need to change our approach completely in big games because they now know we're setting up for counters so they themselves set up defensively against us, even Pep has been playing with 2 DMFs to shut down our counters. They all know by this they'll either get a draw or can nick a goal and win it all.

Simply put, we have to start approaching big games in more offensive approach imo.
Yeah we definitely do but just cannot see that ever happening until we are playing with a proper DM and box to box player with a creative one in front of them too whether that is Pogba or Bruno
 

AgentSmith

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This. And its something we've used at times including with the split strikers
Fair enough, a diamond system it is.

Semantics aside, do you think it would be a more effective system in bigger games for us?

As others have mentioned we had a lot of success with the diamond with Lingard as the 10. Bruno would naturally be at a different level to that.
 

Ekeke

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Fair enough, a diamond system it is.

Semantics aside, do you think it would be a more effective system in bigger games for us?

As others have mentioned we had a lot of success with the diamond with Lingard as the 10. Bruno would naturally be at a different level to that.
I think it suits a lot of our players particularly our midfielders. Although I think Fred would be best off on the left side so either competing with Pogba, or Pogba and McTominay competing on the right. I'd have Matic in front of the defence. McTominay has had underwhelming performances when we've used a diamond before, but with his recent goal surge he would hopefully get forward and be a goal threat.

And I think we might have success but people would complain because our fullbacks would need to provide a lot of the width. Not that they dont already, but its probably a more important component in a diamond with the midfielders being CMs and playing inside. Even when AWB does a great job we'd have posters wishing he played like a winger and saying he needs to be replaced. Of course success is far more important than posters complaining
 

AgentSmith

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We also played it vs Arsenal at home. Weird thread
Just checked that, we played the exact system I laid out with less than zero success :lol:

Probably a good place to end the thread.

Was just an idea to incorporate Pogba into the team against bigger teams without sacrificing our midfield stability. If we can find a way to do that it’ll lift us as a team, not too weird I don’t think.
 

NoPace

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The better question is if we should play Rashford up top and Bruno on the left in big games.

----------Rashford--------------------------
-Bruno-------------------------------James
----------Pogba-----------------------------
----------------Fred--McTominay--------

or VDB for Pogba. This team wouldn't be pretty but it would be annoying to play against. There's also the 3-5-2 with Bruno and Rashford up top that probably makes more sense personnel wise:

----------Rashford------Bruno-------------------
-------------------Pogba-----------------------------
Telles------Fred--McTominay--------AWB
--------Shaw----Lindelof--Maguire/Axel----

Could always start games that way and then be ready to bring on an attacker for a defender after an hour, or James at right-wing back for more attacking play . We don't really have the back 7 for this (VDB should probably start in the holding 2 just because he wants the ball and can move it and this team would be constantly going back to the keeper for lack of passing quality in the back 8), but AWB does seem to often do best attacking-wise when he has no choice but to dribble and take players on.
 

gregor

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I always thought that 4-3-3 or 4-4-2 diamond would be prefect for big matches. Only issue is lack of proper DM.

GK
Defence
Fred - DM - Pogba
Cavani - Bruno - Rashford
 

LovelyLittlePanda

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IMO there's 2 reasons for playing a false 9.

1. You don't have a top top striker who's lethal up top (RVN)
or
2. Your main man is too lazy to track back and do defensive work (Messi)

Since Bruno is not a lazy dude and Cavani is our only in form striker I would consider playing Bruno as a false 9 only if Cavani is out.

The variation which Ole prefers in big games (McFred holding, Pogba LW, Rashy RW) I don't have problems with. Rashford has done surprisingly well from the right, even though we can all see it's not his best position.

If we used a false 9 formation we would have to play Scott and/or Donny in midfield. They're our only midfielders that like to get in the box. I don't think the idea is a bad one, but I don't see it solving our problems either. What this discussion does do is highlight our problem of only having 1 DM and 1 striker that are both over 30 (Matic 32 & Cavani 34).
 

cyril C

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I would say NO.

I know we want to accommodate Pogba and play 3 men-MF, which is extra strength in MF but not being too defensive.

If we take Pogba out of the equation and purely looking at it from tactical balance. Bruno is already the closely marked player, playing false 9 meant he would surely be double-team marked. Even if we do pass the ball to him, then what. If there is a proper #9 who can protect the ball, with Bruno nearby, there is still a chance for a quick transition and shift the attack somewhere else. From fluidity and predictability perspective, someone else should be receiving the ball
 

Lewnited

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This is basically how Ole's diamond ends up looking, with a #10 pushing high up the pitch and two wide, split strikers. We actually did seem to default to this in big matches throughout his first few months but we've only seen it sporadically since, i.e. Leipzig (H) this season. I agree though about it suiting our squad,I was hoping that we'd continue on with it.
 

Bebestation

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I feel like we may see the diamond once we get a younger CDM that can hold his defensive position. Right now we have to play Fred, Mctomminay and/or Matic which makes the diamond we play very defensive and not creative enough to play Bruno so far up the pitch as a false 9.

Bruno
Pogba - VDB
CDM
Once we get a CDM (just a random guess this might be Rice), we can stick two attacking/creative players to be covered by a CDM and topped off by clinical finisher that can also assist the 2 deadly inverted forwards we have on the sides.

* Bruno & VDB may swap positions. Mctomminay/Fred are very useful as a defensive diamond but we need to also have an attacking alternative options to get the right balance within the squad. If Pogba leaves then we have to replace him at the transfer window or bring up players like Hannibal or Garner to adapt the diamond respectively and add some creativity from middle of the pitch or deeper.
 

76side

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Bruno has gone right off the boil, sends most of the match disputing the refs decisions and invariably gets booked.
If VDB was any good I'd leave him out for a few games but alas VDB is the worst signing since Di Maria, he is absolute garbage!