Playing against low-block teams

Suedesi

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Playing against low-block teams is a problem for us, and Ole needs to fix that.

Currently we get no discernible help from the fullbacks. Both Williams and Bissaka are poor going forward as neither can whip in a cross with pace and accuracy nor can they seem to drive with the ball forward, dribble past their opposing number. Time and time again AWB receives the ball in space, only to lay it off 10 yards back. Williams got a bit more bite on the wing, but the final ball is nothing to write home about.

The problem is compounded by the lack of quality wingers. It's no secret that Rashford has been poor since the restart, but I'm not willing to lay the blame entirely with him. He had a back injury in February was rushed back and then suffered an even worse injury against Wolves which put him out for the season. COVID changed that, but to me he doesn't seem fully recovered, and I get the feeling that Ole is running him to the ground. Dan James started on fire but he has really tapered off. The fact that he can't even be called against Danish opposition does not bode well for his future prospects at the club. He's been here for a season now, his impact recently has been negligible. And Greenwood - is not really a winger. In my mind, he needs to play as a second striker because his finishing is top notch.

So everything has to go through the center. Here we're handicapped by not having have ball carriers or dynamic midfielders in the Iniesta or Modric mould, players who can drive the ball forward either through dribbling or an incisive one-two. Pogba has it in his toolbox but it's not his natural game. Matic doesn't have the legs. Bruno plays more advanced. A smart opposition coach will just crowd the middle of the park and we look completely clueless.

We have an amazing front three and we can damage anyone on the counter or when we provide them with proper service. However, not for the first time we can look bland and toothless against teams that park the bus.
 

Jackal981

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We have done better breaking low block teams. Thats why teams now tried to high press us instead. Shaw injury definitely a factor though, Williams imo is not PL level (hopefully yet). If you notice teams always tried to attack our left side since Shaw out injured. Today was just unlucky though could have been cricket score
 
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Think we've gotten a lot better at chance creation against low block teams. Seems our problem has shifted now to teams that press us. Seems like anyone and everyone can press us into our own half, we have to get better and quicker at playing out.
 

liamp

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Playing against low-block teams is a problem for us, and Ole needs to fix that.

Currently we get no discernible help from the fullbacks. Both Williams and Bissaka are poor going forward as neither can whip in a cross with pace and accuracy nor can they seem to drive with the ball forward, dribble past their opposing number. Time and time again AWB receives the ball in space, only to lay it off 10 yards back. Williams got a bit more bite on the wing, but the final ball is nothing to write home about.

The problem is compounded by the lack of quality wingers. It's no secret that Rashford has been poor since the restart, but I'm not willing to lay the blame entirely with him. He had a back injury in February was rushed back and then suffered an even worse injury against Wolves which put him out for the season. COVID changed that, but to me he doesn't seem fully recovered, and I get the feeling that Ole is running him to the ground. Dan James started on fire but he has really tapered off. The fact that he can't even be called against Danish opposition does not bode well for his future prospects at the club. He's been here for a season now, his impact recently has been negligible. And Greenwood - is not really a winger. In my mind, he needs to play as a second striker because his finishing is top notch.

So everything has to go through the center. Here we're handicapped by not having have ball carriers or dynamic midfielders in the Iniesta or Modric mould, players who can drive the ball forward either through dribbling or an incisive one-two. Pogba has it in his toolbox but it's not his natural game. Matic doesn't have the legs. Bruno plays more advanced. A smart opposition coach will just crowd the middle of the park and we look completely clueless.

We have an amazing front three and we can damage anyone on the counter or when we provide them with proper service. However, not for the first time we can look bland and toothless against teams that park the bus.
Agree, but I think the first problem has led to the second. I thought Rashford and Shaw linked up pretty well as Shaw was actually a real overlapping threat and his runs often allowed Rashford either a one-on-one or at least some space to run at his fullback. With Williams, who can make the same runs but provides no real threat on the overlap, both the fullback and a covering midfielder can stay at home on Rashford. It's hung Rashford out to dry and helped make him look a little more ineffective than he really is.

I completely agree about Greenwood. He's a fantastic outlet at the end of our build-up play or when we give it to him in some space near the edge of the box because his only real option in those scenarios is to make one move and then shoot. It's just simple enough for an 18 year old who's still developing his game to be able to execute. However, if you watch him play against the low block I don't think he's sharp enough yet to participate in the build up movements we attempt. AWB's limitations going forward are magnified because he doesn't have a more creative winger to partner him.

It's why Sancho's imperative and why bringing in another LB is arguably just as important. If Shaw's healthy then great, but he absolutely cannot be relied upon.
 
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EwanI Ted

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I’m feeling like this is an increasingly out of date argument. Earlier in the season, for sure it was a major problem. But post lockdown we’ve got much better at breaking teams down that defend deep. Last night for example we had bags of chances, it would be wrong to say we struggled to create. Our problem was either poor finishing or bonkers goalkeeping, depending on your perspective. We could have scored 3 quite easily.

That said I do think the FBs are a problem. It means our opponents tactics are made simple - block out to the middle of the park and force us wide. That doesn’t guarantee a clean sheet against us anymore, but it’s definitely a good tactic to use. West Ham and Leicester did it to us at the end of last season. A high quality left back should be on the shopping list.

But overall I don’t think it’s as big a problem as it has been.
 

roonster09

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We had problems against low block teams but we have created so many chances yesterday, then we either missed the chances or attacker took a bad touch in the box or fluffed the chance.
 

Bwuk

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The full backs are the problem. None of our wingers are actually wingers and want to come infield.

If I was to set up a side to play United you’d want a narrow back 4 with the midfield covering space to stop Bruno/Pogba hitting long shots, forcing us to do something with our full backs because they can’t do it.

We tend to win a lot of games from an individual doing something brilliant.

For me the two priorities ahead of next season is to fix the midfield shape, Pogba and Bruno are too far apart, and the #6 is too deep, and to get the full backs sorted.
 

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We had problems against low block teams but we have created so many chances yesterday, then we either missed the chances or attacker took a bad touch in the box or fluffed the chance.
Agreed... We hit the post 4 times and created a vast number of chances. On another day we'd have won 3 or 4-0...

This is quickly becoming a thing of the past for us... Since Lockdown we've been pretty good at breaking down teams that sit deep.
 

Web of Bissaka

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Currently we get no discernible help from the fullbacks. Both Williams and Bissaka are poor going forward as neither can whip in a cross with pace and accuracy nor can they seem to drive with the ball forward, dribble past their opposing number. Time and time again AWB receives the ball in space, only to lay it off 10 yards back. Williams got a bit more bite on the wing, but the final ball is nothing to write home about.

The problem is compounded by the lack of quality wingers. It's no secret that Rashford has been poor since the restart, but I'm not willing to lay the blame entirely with him. He had a back injury in February was rushed back and then suffered an even worse injury against Wolves which put him out for the season. COVID changed that, but to me he doesn't seem fully recovered, and I get the feeling that Ole is running him to the ground. Dan James started on fire but he has really tapered off. The fact that he can't even be called against Danish opposition does not bode well for his future prospects at the club. He's been here for a season now, his impact recently has been negligible. And Greenwood - is not really a winger. In my mind, he needs to play as a second striker because his finishing is top notch.

So everything has to go through the center. Here we're handicapped by not having have ball carriers or dynamic midfielders in the Iniesta or Modric mould, players who can drive the ball forward either through dribbling or an incisive one-two. Pogba has it in his toolbox but it's not his natural game. Matic doesn't have the legs. Bruno plays more advanced. A smart opposition coach will just crowd the middle of the park and we look completely clueless.
Forgot two crucial things here.
  • Good system
  • Good coaching of attacks

1. Our FBs admittedly not the best in attacks can perform better if they know who and where to aim the ball at. At the moment, they just hit the ball in and hope for the best. Players on the receiving end are also positioning themselves inconsistently and randomly, sometimes they move near to tap in, sometimes stay at the back and sometimes hide between defenders. It's all a huge random mess.

2. You're right. Martial, Rashford, James and Chong. That's it, that's just our wingers. They're all good, but Martial is at CF now and the two are off form. Chong is not being trusted because well.. manager is afraid?

3. We have three actually, 3 ball-carriers and 3 dynamic midfielders.
BCarry - Pogba, McTominay and Pereira. Pogba is restricted, McT is not in his good form and Pereira is...
DyMid - Pogba, McTominay and Fred. Pogba is restricted, McT is not in his McTominator form and Fred is in bad form.
Then again, this is also on Ole, for not able to give them enough games to gain that match sharpness back, because he doesn't do rotation timing well.
 

Leftback99

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Did Copenhagen even play with a 'low block' last night? Just because Robbie Savage kept repeating it it doesn't mean that's what was happening.
 

Dr Fink

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Agreed for the first half last night. We got through them second half though. Pogba started feeding the ball in to Martial and Rashford, where they could turn and push forward. Tony was devastating last night. It was an issue however until half time.
 

duffer

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Playing against low-block teams is a problem for us, and Ole needs to fix that.
When two side use the same tactics, it's always a struggle.

*White text to indicate joke*
 

Skills

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It's not just low block teams. Southampton aren't a low block team and were a nightmare. It's any organised team
 

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When did AWB become so poor going forward. I always had in my head that he got loads of assists at Palace. Not that he was at TAA levels, but thought he was far better going forward than he's shown at United.
 

Josh 76

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The full backs are the problem. None of our wingers are actually wingers and want to come infield.

If I was to set up a side to play United you’d want a narrow back 4 with the midfield covering space to stop Bruno/Pogba hitting long shots, forcing us to do something with our full backs because they can’t do it.

We tend to win a lot of games from an individual doing something brilliant.

For me the two priorities ahead of next season is to fix the midfield shape, Pogba and Bruno are too far apart, and the #6 is too deep, and to get the full backs sorted.
I agree to a point.
But the way Liverpool play, they have Fabinino almost playing as a 3rd centre back and their full backs playing higher than the their wingers.
Those wingers (mane and salah) then come inside and this enables them to have 5 players (Or sometimes even 6, with the other full back) in the box most of the time. That's why they have so many crosses in the game and create so many chances from them.
That's why it looks more effective that Liverpool don't seem to have an issue with low block teams, where as with Utd, we pass around just as much and I have noticed we have started to move the ball quicker, but looks less effective because we never enough bodies in the final third.
 
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I agree but using last nights game as an example doesn’t really make sense. We hit the post 4 times & their goalkeeper put up a 9.5 rating. On another day we win that game 6-0.

and by the way, what is Williams good at then? Because for months I’ve been told he’s great going forward but poor defensively, now I’m being told he’s bad going forward. If he’s bad going forward & bad defensively, what the feck is he doing in the team?
 

Conor

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Not sure what else you want the team to do in situations like last night, other than actually score from the multitude of chances we had. There was no issue with creating chances, considering how many men they had behind the ball. We just couldn't finish to save our lives.
 

MadDogg

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When did AWB become so poor going forward. I always had in my head that he got loads of assists at Palace. Not that he was at TAA levels, but thought he was far better going forward than he's shown at United.
AWB's stats are almost identical strangely enough.

Four assists in his 46 games for Crystal Palace.
Four assists in his 45 games for us.

His final ball isn't actually too bad. Obviously it's not a strength either, but once he gets into the final third he puts in his fair share of decent balls. The problem is more that he's shit at helping during the build-up, and he also doesn't get into the attacking positions as much as he should.

On the other side of the pitch we have Shaw who has both similarities and differences. Shaw is much better during the build-up, helping our midfield play through the opposition and combining with his winger. Like AWB he doesn't get into attacking positions as much as he should, and unfortunately when he does get into those positions his final ball is quite poor. Then we have Williams who is struggling at all three aspects at the moment.
 

Rozay

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We need full-backs who are very good on the ball. The ball is rarely in the actual ‘middle’ of the pitch, it’s on one side or another. With Bruno basically playing up front, the interplay in real terms is happening between the likes of Pogba and AWB, which is far from ideal. Williams and Bissaka are not good enough in attack for the amount of time they spend on the ball in our attacking phases and transitions. I remember in the recent Palace game in particular. We struggled for much of it because literally the only player on our team who had any time and space on the ball was Bissaka, probably by design. No top team wants to be starting attack after attack through Aaron Wan-Bissaka.
 

cyberman

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We are a lot better breaking them down. This is old hat imo.
Its the teams that press through the midfield thats the new problem.
Its why Rashford tends to keep his position out wide, trying to stretch the pitch and give the opposition more ground to cover.
 

Suedesi

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We had problems against low block teams but we have created so many chances yesterday, then we either missed the chances or attacker took a bad touch in the box or fluffed the chance.
Honestly I could have written this after Norwich in the FA. We created chances, but mainly after the 90 minutes. And thy had a couple of decent chances as well, especially that move where Falk channeled his inner Redondo on the right wing and left Williams for dead.
 

Suedesi

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Think we've gotten a lot better at chance creation against low block teams. Seems our problem has shifted now to teams that press us. Seems like anyone and everyone can press us into our own half, we have to get better and quicker at playing out.
This is true as well, and stems from the same problems. Fullbacks with poor technique and not very comfortable on the ball, a midfield that is not sufficiently press resistant and forward players generally not showing up for the ball (poor tactical shape). Recent examples like Southampton (to an extent) and Chelsea in the FA Cup that completely suffocated our normal game.
 

roonster09

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Honestly I could have written this after Norwich in the FA. We created chances, but mainly after the 90 minutes. And thy had a couple of decent chances as well, especially that move where Falk channeled his inner Redondo on the right wing and left Williams for dead.
Yeah, I would have agreed that we had big problems against low block teams till Dec-Jan, but since we signed Bruno we are creating chances against them. Our problems are more related to concentration levels. Players like Martial, Greenwood taking wrong touches or weak shots, something you don't expect as they are so good technically.

I'm just mentioning these 2 players as I believe their technical level is of highest quality and they are awesome.

We have created good number of chances, half chances but we didn't finish them.
 

RedSky

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It's not just low block teams. Southampton aren't a low block team and were a nightmare. It's any organised team
Don't buy this argument personally Skills. If this was the case we'd be shit in the high profile games, instead we've got a very good record against the top teams.

We've got much better at breaking through teams since Bruno joined, no real shock as it doesn't rest solely on Pogbas shoulders anymore. Think back to the start of the season when Pogba was out injured and our creativity was coming from Pereira, Lingard or James. So naturally we're significantly better at breaking through low block teams these days.

The teams that give us the most problems are those that press us and play defensively on the counter. Yet we had the chances to beat Southampton, just dicked around too much in the final third.
 

Classical Mechanic

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Copenhagen press high early on but played a low block a lot of the time too. United's xG was 3.6 so it suggests poor finishing and good goalkeeping rather than any trouble breaking down the opposition.
 

Guapa

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We need a change of formation.Get Rashford & Pogba into the game more.
 

WolfInSharp'sClothing

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I think the approach of plugging away until you get given your inevitable penalty has worked just fine so far.
 

Flexdegea

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When did AWB become so poor going forward. I always had in my head that he got loads of assists at Palace. Not that he was at TAA levels, but thought he was far better going forward than he's shown at United.

Looks like a player out of confidence with the ball at his feet.


He looks really poor at the moment when he has a player to beat. Should just take it on the run more as when he stops to cut inside and then go outside he pretty much used his only move.