Is 3-5-2 the answer?

VorZakone

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You need a lot of time and work to prepare a 3 at the back deffence. A pre season and some patience after that. And hopefully some ductile players while we're at it. Even if it was the solution, there's no time to implement it.

IMO United's current squad is suited to play either a 4-1-4-1 or a classic 4-4-2, trying to keep a short distance between defenders and attackers and try to play as wide as possible in order to keep stability at the back while creating spaces for Garnacho/Rashford/Antony's run ins and some Hojlund goals from crosses and poaching.

My impression is that the 4-2-3-1, while defensively strong, encapsulates the attack a bit and relies too much on either high precission passing in thight spaces or winning 1v1 duels in order to score (and your squad is good at neither).
Conte switched to 3 at the back in 2016/17 after 10-ish (?) games and walked the PL afterwards. Didn't need a preseason.

(He was Chelsea coach then)
 

Hammondo

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A lot of waffle and irrelevance but you're not actually disproving his point. He said we were one of the best in the league. Only City and Newcastle conceded less and we were joint with Arsenal. So he wasn't wrong. Our problem last season wasn't goals conceded, it was the goals we didn't score.

You essentially proved yourself how your post is pointless without context

"ETH last season was same numbers as Moyes numbers."

And yet the season couldn't have been more different.
True but last season was a weak season, lots of the generally stronger teams did poorly.
 

Irwin99

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I was going to ask where the goals are coming from in that team but that's a problem in any formation we play :( . As Neville alluded to recently it's crazy to think the burden of our attack rests on Holjund coming here and hitting the ground running and Rashford having a similar season to the last one.
 

AndyMUFC86

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3 at the back is great for tightening up and being harder to score against but it would give us zero chance of pressing. Just like on Saturday when Brighton had bags of time at full back because we played a diamond, using wing backs gives you no one to press the high wide areas. If we want to change to a lower block then it would be a consideration but I know that’s not an option. 4-2-3-1 covers everything you need in a formation if done correctly and if the players buy into the tactics.
 

Zora

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No. Too much is made of formations, too many armchair FM addicts think it fixes everything.

Our problem is application. We don’t press in numbers. Only one or two of our players look bothered.
 

Borys

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I can see your point, but Brighton also is doing it for quite some time. De Zerbi didn't have to start at zero. Our objective is to move from a "defend rather deep and make use of quick transitions aka Bruno longball to Rashford" to something more organized. I want to say there was a difference last year in terms of building from the back, we certainly didn't look as scared as we did before, the hastiness and cluelessness mostly started when trying to do something in the middle third. I had hoped that ETH would make use of the preseason to now adress that area of the pitch and who knows, maybe he did. I don't want to shield him though, I also hoped his effects would be a bit more striking. On the other hand, thinking at Ronaldo, Greenwood, now Sancho and Antony, feels like fate is doing all it can to distract the manager...
And that is the key to my opinion on Ten Hag. See what good managers do, is they implement a system that will help effectively move the ball (when in posession) to the forwards. Brighton is a very good example of what I mean: notice how they rarely play very risky passes, they move collectively and make a lot of simple/safe passes that open up the opposition (and for example put the attacking players 1vs1, even 2vs1 at times. But this is done by collective work. Brighton did like 23/26 (?) passes that led to their goal.
Now we don't do it this way, out approach is completely different. We move the ball in defense but with the intension to play 2-3 passes that will get us through on goal. That means those are risky, but high reward passes. My point is - this is not sustainable tactic, because it relies heavily on individuals. See Casemiro - he was a half god last season, truly amazing performances that hold us together. Now he is poor, no doubts about it, but he still finds himself in center of things quite often - it's just he wastes so many balls because he is asked to play high risk way too often. The whole system from Brighton does NOT rely on individual quality, that's why they are able to lose players every feckin window and still look head and shoulders above other teams (even if they do lose games sometimes).
Our game relies on individuals to do something. One time (period) we had a number of individuals in form, we have beaten Barca and won the Cup. Then it all fell of a cliff because it's just not sustainable, you have to have a way of moving the ball that you can always revert to if you want some control over game.

Now regarding pre-season, I have watched all games, and it's funny that the only moment we looked like a functional unit was when Mainoo was playing. He was actually the difference maker, the guy who made us tick in the middle. But that is irrelevant now, he might or might not translate this form to serious football, we need to wait and see.

What IS important though is once our first XI (including Case, Mount, Bruno midfield) went to play, we looked shite. This setup looked like Casemiro is basically covering whole midfield on his own, but also is the main playmaker/connector between backline and frontline. We were run over a few times by Lens. And then we went with the same setup for Wolves and Tottenham.
Now I understand the idea of counterpressing/ pressing high, we need to give it more time as players are not synced, but we look clueless when we're being asked to play out from the back. We do a lot of risky stuff that turn into counters against us. I definitely don't see at the moment where this team is going if we are to persist with this Mount and Bruno as AMs setup. IMO we will push Mount back to midfield soon and will need to convert him to a traditional midfielder.
 

In Rainbows

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True but last season was a weak season, lots of the generally stronger teams did poorly.
Yeah, but United's goals conceded stat was partially inflated due to some freak results. United had the most clean sheets of any team. Therefore the defense was largely great in more number of matches than others. So were those freak results a true reflection of the defense you were more likely to see on any random day of the season? I would say no. Being thoroughly beaten doesn't mean conceding 7 goals.
 

The-Mezzala

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‐-----‐------------------------------------Onana----------------------------------------
---------------------Lindelof--------Varane------------Martinez---------------
Dalot‐-‐------------------------------------------------------------------------Reguilon
-------------------------------Amrabat-------Casemiro-----------------------------
---------------------------------------------Bruno-------------------------------------------
---------------------------------Hojlund--------------Rashford-----------------------

With our defence being exposed by our weak midfield time and time again I feel that we need to seriously consider a formation change. I feel this system affords us the requisite protection whilst also gives our fullbacks more license to use their main strengths, which is going forward. It also means.we are less exposed by the opposition taken advantage of our forwards players lack of appetite to defend. Obviously it puts a lot of onus on our wing backs but I would like to see us give it a try.
With Antony and Sancho out for the forseeable it's not like we have much options on the rw anyway.so it might be the system that suits us best at the moment. We have to stop shipping goals. Obviously you could play Amrabat and Casemiro either as a double pivot or just leave one sitting (prob Casemiro) depending on opposition.

Overreaction or a genuine option that should be considered?
I have been calling for this for a long time. Ole tried it a few times. Lindelof and Martinez would benefit massively in a back 3
 
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NZT-One

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And that is the key to my opinion on Ten Hag. See what good managers do, is they implement a system that will help effectively move the ball (when in posession) to the forwards. Brighton is a very good example of what I mean: notice how they rarely play very risky passes, they move collectively and make a lot of simple/safe passes that open up the opposition (and for example put the attacking players 1vs1, even 2vs1 at times. But this is done by collective work. Brighton did like 23/26 (?) passes that led to their goal.
Fully agree here but I think, this collective work is something, that is really hard to implement (when you want it in a good noticable quality). So yes, absolutely, that definitely should be the objective and I hope we are on the road to it already and yes, I would have hoped it would be a bit more noticable if we are.

Now we don't do it this way, out approach is completely different. We move the ball in defense but with the intension to play 2-3 passes that will get us through on goal. That means those are risky, but high reward passes. My point is - this is not sustainable tactic, because it relies heavily on individuals. See Casemiro - he was a half god last season, truly amazing performances that hold us together. Now he is poor, no doubts about it, but he still finds himself in center of things quite often - it's just he wastes so many balls because he is asked to play high risk way too often. The whole system from Brighton does NOT rely on individual quality, that's why they are able to lose players every feckin window and still look head and shoulders above other teams (even if they do lose games sometimes).
Our game relies on individuals to do something. One time (period) we had a number of individuals in form, we have beaten Barca and won the Cup. Then it all fell of a cliff because it's just not sustainable, you have to have a way of moving the ball that you can always revert to if you want some control over game.
Completely agree. Is an issue and should definitely be improved on. Waiting for it since Mourinho actually. I just want to note that this isn't a small little thing to change in a team. Especially not a team that simultaneously is expected to get results. It isn't impossible but it is a difficult task and thats why I appreciate the guy on the journey taking the responsibility and I hope he can get us somewhere. Even if he doesn't take the shortest way.

Now regarding pre-season, I have watched all games, and it's funny that the only moment we looked like a functional unit was when Mainoo was playing. He was actually the difference maker, the guy who made us tick in the middle. But that is irrelevant now, he might or might not translate this form to serious football, we need to wait and see.
Not sure if I have seen all our games, I think there might have been one where I only watched a summary. Mainoo certainly is a type of footballer we don't have for now so I can see your excitement and look forward to his future involvement. I think though, that a) the expectation level already crossed a healthy line so I hope ETH handles him well and b) his best work is done with the ball. Which is certainly important but I am still a bit worried about our midfield pairings in terms of physicality and ballwinning. We aren't far away from a point where lack of height might actually become a bit of a problem and for now, I only consider Casemiro as noteworthy in terms of ballwinning. Amrabat is a bit of a dark horse, hopefully he is what many see in him, I remain a bit skeptical because the player many described should have been sold for at least as much as Caicedo.

What IS important though is once our first XI (including Case, Mount, Bruno midfield) went to play, we looked shite. This setup looked like Casemiro is basically covering whole midfield on his own, but also is the main playmaker/connector between backline and frontline. We were run over a few times by Lens. And then we went with the same setup for Wolves and Tottenham.
Now I understand the idea of counterpressing/ pressing high, we need to give it more time as players are not synced, but we look clueless when we're being asked to play out from the back. We do a lot of risky stuff that turn into counters against us. I definitely don't see at the moment where this team is going if we are to persist with this Mount and Bruno as AMs setup. IMO we will push Mount back to midfield soon and will need to convert him to a traditional midfielder.
Yes I see your point. Actually I am also rather clueless how to proceed and kind of glad I am not the one required to make final decision. On one of the United channels, the observation was, that our forward press isn't as effective as last, reason could be us getting a bit worse or leggy but it could also be opposition being better prepared. This has a bit of a trickle-down effect because not only are teams playing through our first line easier and therefor have more space to increase speed to run at defence, it also effects or attacks as the turnover rate is lower.

I am not sure really if I really see a difference in terms of playing out from the back. I think, it is more or less the same like last year. Maybe it is down with changed expectation on Onana (who I think was a plausible decision but I think his effects haven't been as big as I would have expected them to be) or us not being in the groove yet. As I said, I think it is pretty difficult to come to any sort of conclusion because obviously buildup will look totally different if we go long pretty fast (like last year) or if we do something different which isn't really there yet. Plus bad form of Casemiro. Plus Shaw who has a pretty important role in the buildup for us as he is very reliable to handle the ball well.

All in all, I can completely see your points and my own approach (in place of ETH) would have been closer to yours than to ETHs.
 

IrishRedDevil

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With Amrabat inverting from LB to help with midfield balance, and Casemiro dropping in between Varane and Martinez, potentially yes.

——-Varane ————-- Martinez
Dalot ———Casemiro ———Amrabat
————Bruno———-Mount
Garnacho -—Hojlund —-—Rashford
 

Red Rash

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The thread title sounds like the conversation I used to have with friends directly after a multiple choice exam in school.
 

Bwuk

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We sort of played 3-2-4-1 in possesion today. Quite similar to City of last season, transitioning to a 451 when out of possession

Onana
Varane - Amrabat - Maguire
Dalot - Casemiro
Pellistri - Mount - Hannibal - Garnacho
Martial

Onana
Dalot Varane Maguire Amrabat
Casemiro
Pellistri Mount Hannibal Garnacho
Martial​
 

Trent

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We sort of played 3-2-4-1 in possesion today. Quite similar to City of last season, transitioning to a 451 when out of possession

Onana
Varane - Amrabat - Maguire
Dalot - Casemiro
Pellistri - Mount - Hannibal - Garnacho
Martial

Onana
Dalot Varane Maguire Amrabat
Casemiro
Pellistri Mount Hannibal Garnacho
Martial​


Anyone knows the reason for Dalot being the inverted full back and not Amrabat? Would seem more natural to have a proper midfielder in that spot.

Also AWB might excel at being the 3rd CB in that system.

AWB - Varane - Martinez
Casemiro - Amrabat
 

norm87cro

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Why the f... would you have Lindelof in the 3 5 2? Or anywhere for that matter. The point is to get rid of all the useless CBs in that formation. The likes of Shaw, Regulion, Dalot and Martinez can be the LBs/RBs with the likes of McTominay and Casemiro having their backs in the air.
Is Armabat truly 1.85 m? Then that is sorted too and McTominay can be the first back up
 

astracrazy

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We sort of played 3-2-4-1 in possesion today. Quite similar to City of last season, transitioning to a 451 when out of possession

Onana
Varane - Amrabat - Maguire
Dalot - Casemiro
Pellistri - Mount - Hannibal - Garnacho
Martial

Onana
Dalot Varane Maguire Amrabat
Casemiro
Pellistri Mount Hannibal Garnacho
Martial​
Amrabat moved into midfield. If anything at times Casemiro was playing like a kind of "half back", pushing Varane and Maguire wider but not fully sitting in defence .. Dalot was often pushing right up creating that line of 6 that we saw often last year, with Mount and/or Hannibal dropping between the lines.
Onana
Varane Casemiro Maguire
Amrabat
Dalot - Pellistri - Mount - Martial - Hannibal - Garnacho
 
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Borninthe80ts

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I’m fully behind tactical flexibility and merging formation mid match. I think with the type of player we have purchased with tactical intelligence and positional awareness will help us incorporate these ideas.

I’m not saying we have to start with this formation or stick to it rigidly but I can see the benefits to allowing us to become more defensively compact or more fluid in attack. To be honest I think we are kind of heading this way of playing anyway.

We regularly see the deep midfielder dropping between the centre backs and the full backs push on. For me with a full squad and profile of player we have, we should be have a set style with the ability to adapt to horses for courses, so to speak.