Playing against low-block teams

WolfInSharp'sClothing

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Man, I hope Sevilla beat you tonight. I can't stomach another 120 minutes of a slogfest against Wolves in Germany.
Lopetegui has banked that comment for tonight's team talk. "Come on boys, do it for Suedesi!"
 

davidmichael

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Shaw is so underrated at times and when he doesn’t play you really see the difference in how we play, him overlapping and being naturally left footed brings out a lot in Rashford and they built up a really good partnership this season.

On the other hand Wan-Bissaka looks more scared with the ball at his feet than Smalling ever did and offers next to nothing going forward despite being excellent defensively, this is why I’d like to see Laird brought up next season as he is excellent going forward and in home games against teams parking the bus him and Shaw could be the difference.

If we signed another defensive midfielder with lots of stamina/energy that simply sat in front of the defence it’d allow Pogba to be that dynamic midfielder that could go forward to support the front four without worry of Matic needing legs alongside him, as for quality wingers that’s a perfect example of why we NEED to pay the money for Sancho as he is EXACTLY what we need and brings qualities that no one in our squad can offer and it gives us strength in depth squad wise.
 

mazhar13

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I actually think our biggest problem right now is our execution. We have the players and system to break down low-block teams. Our problem, however, is the consistency in which we break them down. There are several occasions where we misplace/overhit our passes/crosses and other occasions where the players take extra touches and slow us down. Besides that, the players are making the right runs, and they're getting into good positions. Even Wan-Bissaka was making runs through the opposition defences with regularity. The only exception to all of this has been Brandon Williams, who's still trying to settle into the first team and growing his game.
 

dbs235

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I think we do have the personnel to break down teams playing the low block, they just need to grow a pair and take initiative.
Agree with this, I think a little bit more directness from everyone in the final third (except Bruno) and we'd be fine. They have the ability. Think Grealish could come off the bench and help us unlock teams a bit if we're struggling.
 

Foxbatt

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Many are missing the point. And Ole too is missing it.
There are corners and set pieces. It doesn't come naturally. It needs practice and with practice you will get better.
From what I have seen so far United doesn't practice it or doesn't do it correctly. If practiced or done correctly we will score a lot more goals. Now every David, Pep and Frank knows we will hoist it high for Maguire to head the ball.
 

Skills

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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.
I think we're better in the high profile games because we're good on the counter attack - we're good enough to take advantage of teams overexerting themselves trying to attack us. For example in the 3 wins against Chelsea this season we've had : 46%, 34% and 38% possession. Against City in our 3 wins we've had 28%, 39% and and 27% possession.

When the onus is on us to attack and win we struggle - irrespective of the way a team decides to defend against us (whether it's pressing high or packing the box). Now admittedly, I still expect us to beat most of those teams though because the discrepancy in talent is so huge - with the a lineup of Pogba, Bruno, Martial, Rashford and Greenwood (each of those 5 players are better than anything the bottom 11 have got).
 

mazhar13

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Many are missing the point. And Ole too is missing it.
There are corners and set pieces. It doesn't come naturally. It needs practice and with practice you will get better.
From what I have seen so far United doesn't practice it or doesn't do it correctly. If practiced or done correctly we will score a lot more goals. Now every David, Pep and Frank knows we will hoist it high for Maguire to head the ball.
You also need players who are good at delivering set pieces. From what I've seen, we aren't just hitting the ball into space and hoping for the best. We typically go for the near-post flick, and if that doesn't work, we try other things. Now we won't necessarily spend too much time on set pieces, but it's not like we do no work on them.
 

RedSky

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I think we're better in the high profile games because we're good on the counter attack - we're good enough to take advantage of teams overexerting themselves trying to attack us. For example in the 3 wins against Chelsea this season we've had : 46%, 34% and 38% possession. Against City in our 3 wins we've had 28%, 39% and and 27% possession.

When the onus is on us to attack and win we struggle - irrespective of the way a team decides to defend against us (whether it's pressing high or packing the box). Now admittedly, I still expect us to beat most of those teams though because the discrepancy in talent is so huge - with the a lineup of Pogba, Bruno, Martial, Rashford and Greenwood (each of those 5 players are better than anything the bottom 11 have got).
We struggled because we were shit mate. Before Bruno arrived we averaged scoring 1.5 goals a game and conceding 1.2 goals a game. That's is not the type of form that makes you win games on a consistent basis.

Since Bruno arrived we now score an average of 2.1 goals a game and concede 0.3.

*league stats not all comps
 

mazhar13

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I think we're better in the high profile games because we're good on the counter attack - we're good enough to take advantage of teams overexerting themselves trying to attack us. For example in the 3 wins against Chelsea this season we've had : 46%, 34% and 38% possession. Against City in our 3 wins we've had 28%, 39% and and 27% possession.

When the onus is on us to attack and win we struggle - irrespective of the way a team decides to defend against us (whether it's pressing high or packing the box). Now admittedly, I still expect us to beat most of those teams though because the discrepancy in talent is so huge - with the a lineup of Pogba, Bruno, Martial, Rashford and Greenwood (each of those 5 players are better than anything the bottom 11 have got).
We struggled because we were shit mate. Before Bruno arrived we averaged scoring 1.5 goals a game and conceding 1.2 goals a game. That's is not the type of form that makes you win games on a consistent basis.

Since Bruno arrived we now score an average of 2.1 goals a game and concede 0.3.

*league stats not all comps
To add on to RedSky's comment, we also take on bigger sides rather than sit back and hoof the ball forward. The reason we have lower possession stats against Chelsea is because, after we take the lead, we play on the counter knowing that Chelsea like to commit numbers on the attack under Lampard. Other sides that overcame Chelsea also did the same thing. Chelsea have a weak defensive structure when they chase a lead, and we take advantage of that.
 

Crashoutcassius

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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.
good post. a play making option from the wingback position would be useful.
 

Skills

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We struggled because we were shit mate. Before Bruno arrived we averaged scoring 1.5 goals a game and conceding 1.2 goals a game. That's is not the type of form that makes you win games on a consistent basis.

Since Bruno arrived we now score an average of 2.1 goals a game and concede 0.3.

*league stats not all comps
Ok fair enough, but do you think if we struggle next season the excuses will be exhausted for the coaching staff? That's irrespective of us signing Sancho.

For instance, I don't think there was much difference in terms of talent in the team Man City were playing after the re-start vs us. Their most common attack lined up as Gabriel, Foden, De Bruyne, Sterling and B/D Silva. I don't think that's better than Rashford, Martial, Greenwood, Pogba & Bruno.
 

RedSky

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Ok fair enough, but do you think if we struggle next season the excuses will be exhausted for the coaching staff? That's irrespective of us signing Sancho.

For instance, I don't think there was much difference in terms of talent in the team Man City were playing after the re-start vs us. Their most common attack lined up as Gabriel, Foden, De Bruyne, Sterling and B/D Silva. I don't think that's better than Rashford, Martial, Greenwood, Pogba & De Bruyne.
Depends entirely on the investment that comes in. If we invest into the squad and get in another 3-4 players then Ole has nowhere to hide if by Christmas we're struggling.
 

mazhar13

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Ok fair enough, but do you think if we struggle next season the excuses will be exhausted for the coaching staff? That's irrespective of us signing Sancho.

For instance, I don't think there was much difference in terms of talent in the team Man City were playing after the re-start vs us. Their most common attack lined up as Gabriel, Foden, De Bruyne, Sterling and B/D Silva. I don't think that's better than Rashford, Martial, Greenwood, Pogba & De Bruyne.
I've yet to see us play passively against a big team. In almost every match against a big side, we've tried to take them on. Whether we did well to assert ourselves or not was down to factors other than our playing style (player quality, conditioning, etc.).
 

SER19

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I think we're much better at this than we have been but still have a way to go. Any team will have at least a few games each season where it doesn't click though.

Overall I think pace in movement and passing is the only way against these teams and once you open the scoring their game plan is fecked.
 

Green_Red

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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.
Playing against low block teams is a problem for any team. I seem to remember beating the best club side in history by playing that way in the 2008 CL semi final. There's no way to "fix it".
 

Fosu-Mens

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A smart opposition coach will just crowd the middle of the park and we look completely clueless.
Good to see others starting to complain about our inability to pass/progress the ball/create in wide positions.
They have done this since about we stopped scoring for fun since the restart. Without better fullbacks and a coached passing pattern, we will continue to struggle next season...

It was the same with PP after OGS came in. He was our only way of creating and progressing the ball, so they started to mark and press him with two players. This forced us to progress the ball with our fullbacks and we looked useless again. Sure, some of it was down to fatigue, but we are so overly reliant on individual players to progress the ball due to the lack of cohesive understanding in the team in how to pass the ball (i.e. this is not coached) and fullbacks that are not able to do this.
 

wolvored

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Wan Bissaka did put a couple of balls through last night but no one runs to the front or back post. Ole was the master of this and I'm surprised he hasnt addressed this. Martial scored a couple from Rashford crosses off the byline, so its not a new thing.
 

Fosu-Mens

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Wan Bissaka did put a couple of balls through last night but no one runs to the front or back post. Ole was the master of this and I'm surprised he hasnt addressed this. Martial scored a couple from Rashford crosses off the byline, so its not a new thing.
AWB does not cross for a specific target, he just puts them in hoping someone will be there. Difference between that and actually attempting to hit a player with a cross.
 

hungrywing

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Any super-caf-tacticians-explicating people (yes, I gave up trying to make the supercalifragilisticexpialidocious thing work) know just how much the whole 'lack of right wing' thing affects us in this whole Ole's-clueless-in-tactics regard? AKA how much do you think putting a good RW into this team would make a lot of that Ole-is-PE-teacher go away?

Week after week, we see pass maps like the below and it sure does look like it would have a huge effect in terms of stretching defenses and creating space and 1 v 1s.

 

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Imo to score against a low block:

1. Some great dribbler to get past a defender, to create havoc among the lines. We have only Martial, and he's not that great. And he's currently our #9.
2. Quality crosses. We have some in Telles and a bit in Shaw recently.
3. Quality pass through the lines. We have on-his-day Bruno.
4. Long shot. On-his-day Bruno again.

So we lack some one who can dribble and a good crosser on the right I think. It's as simple as that.
 

Red_Aaron

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The biggest issue we have with bus parkers is our forwards don't know how to play the traditional centre forward role

Rashford, marital and (at this point at least) Greenwood are very much the modern day wide forward. When they can collect the ball with space for them to run in behind to attack they can be lethal but against a deep defence where they might have to receive the ball with back to goal they don't have the nous to play to position.

Good wide men help break deep teams but they need players in the box to aim at, even when dominating possession in the final third we don't have forwards making runs in the box. These runs also occupy centre backs which then creates the space for the number 10 to work. Atm because our forwards don't occupy centre backs its easy for them to just move from side to side following our build up blocking spaces. Eventually we have to try to pass through then which is extremely hard to do and most of the time fails.

Once you get that central figure to move the centre backs what you then need is to get to the byline thereby turning them around, all of a sudden they're facing their own goal and defending is then much higher risk and more difficult. Our complete refusal to attack the byline is probably my biggest issue with this current side, we often work the ball wide really well but 9 times out of 10 we just check back and work it infield again.

These 2 issues lead to one another of course, no one running in the box so what's the point in getting to the line and crossing to no one. Likewise we never put the ball into the box so why bother running into those spaces.

I've no doubt Ole knows this btw, he spoke many times about our forwards not getting the scrappy goals or not operating between the posts. It comes down to players working off the ball and ultimately rashford and martial don't like to do that, they're very much ball to feet players

That's my two peneth anyways
 

Strelok

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The biggest issue we have with bus parkers is our forwards don't know how to play the traditional centre forward role

Rashford, marital and (at this point at least) Greenwood are very much the modern day wide forward. When they can collect the ball with space for them to run in behind to attack they can be lethal but against a deep defence where they might have to receive the ball with back to goal they don't have the nous to play to position.

Good wide men help break deep teams but they need players in the box to aim at, even when dominating possession in the final third we don't have forwards making runs in the box. These runs also occupy centre backs which then creates the space for the number 10 to work. Atm because our forwards don't occupy centre backs its easy for them to just move from side to side following our build up blocking spaces. Eventually we have to try to pass through then which is extremely hard to do and most of the time fails.

Once you get that central figure to move the centre backs what you then need is to get to the byline thereby turning them around, all of a sudden they're facing their own goal and defending is then much higher risk and more difficult. Our complete refusal to attack the byline is probably my biggest issue with this current side, we often work the ball wide really well but 9 times out of 10 we just check back and work it infield again.

These 2 issues lead to one another of course, no one running in the box so what's the point in getting to the line and crossing to no one. Likewise we never put the ball into the box so why bother running into those spaces.

I've no doubt Ole knows this btw, he spoke many times about our forwards not getting the scrappy goals or not operating between the posts. It comes down to players working off the ball and ultimately rashford and martial don't like to do that, they're very much ball to feet players

That's my two peneth anyways
Did we just score two goals from Shaw's crosses recently?

Imo it's down to the quality of the crosses more than the ability of our forward to play with their back against the goal. And it's not easy nor cheap to find a tall strong, fast, great first touch, great finisher forward these days you know.
 

christinaa

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This is Ole's (and United's) greatest defect - he just can't figure out how to beat these teams at OT when they just come to park the bus and hope to get their winning chamce and goal.
If it wasn't for this Ole would be a star for us.

Can he take some private lessons from Sir Alex ?
 

Nou_Camp99

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Despite Luke Shaw doing better this week on an attacking front with two assists.....he's been largely very poor in this area for us. I feel Telles will prove to be a very good weapon against the low block teams as he gets forward really well and delivers more consistent quality crosses from what I have seen of him.
 

Inigo Montoya

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This is Ole's (and United's) greatest defect - he just can't figure out how to beat these teams at OT when they just come to park the bus and hope to get their winning chamce and goal.
If it wasn't for this Ole would be a star for us.

Can he take some private lessons from Sir Alex ?
He played under him for long enough and had players like Giggs,Scholes,Ronaldo,Carrick. We don’t have anything close to that quality except Bruno
 

izec

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It is a big issue though. Seems that Ole doesn't know how to solve it and also doesn't appoint someone in helping him there. The only thing he does is buy better players. There is more to his role than only being a manager. We lack a coach
 

romufc

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Structure, we lose shape too often when playing these teams. Its something to do with mentality where the players feel they turn up and win. Our RW and LW need to stay wide and stretch the play, our CM/CB need to move the ball quicker rather than being laboured on the ball.
 

Asger

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This is Ole's (and United's) greatest defect - he just can't figure out how to beat these teams at OT when they just come to park the bus and hope to get their winning chamce and goal.
If it wasn't for this Ole would be a star for us.

Can he take some private lessons from Sir Alex ?
Possibly if SAF can give him better players in that meeting. At home United desperately need a right back that can attack and right winger
 

Davie Moyes

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It is a big issue though. Seems that Ole doesn't know how to solve it and also doesn't appoint someone in helping him there. The only thing he does is buy better players. There is more to his role than only being a manager. We lack a coach
Fergie was great at recruiting innovative coaches. I wish we would do the same now.

One of the Chelsea posters mentioned they have recruited a highly rated defensive coach recently, who alongside the signings of Thiago Silva and Mendy is likely to have helped improve their defence.

Liverpool have a throw in coach FFS. No idea what we have. I would even take back Rene Muelensteen who was great on the technical skills side and RVP used to speak positively about him.
 

Zlatattack

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Any super-caf-tacticians-explicating people (yes, I gave up trying to make the supercalifragilisticexpialidocious thing work) know just how much the whole 'lack of right wing' thing affects us in this whole Ole's-clueless-in-tactics regard? AKA how much do you think putting a good RW into this team would make a lot of that Ole-is-PE-teacher go away?

Week after week, we see pass maps like the below and it sure does look like it would have a huge effect in terms of stretching defenses and creating space and 1 v 1s.

It reminds of of the Mourinho period. Im certain pass maps would have been the same for his team.
 

UpWithRivers

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We need to get out of the mindset of 'oh its a sht team lets throw loads of attackers on' mentality.' We still need two defensive minded midfielders. Fred + McTominay or Matic. Ole will go to West Brom and think he can play Pogba + Bruno but it just doesnt work. If we have the defensive platform first then we can say to the front 4. Go do your thing. And they can be free without fear of the breakaway and the other teams scores and sits even further back and we spend all game hitting a brick wall. Bruno is at his best with a free role. He does lose the ball. He does some crazy sht. He needs the stability behind him to cover for that. Pogba needs to have a free role. Yes deeper but still a relatively free role. He cant be up and down the left wing covering Bellerin. It might work with VDb + 1 defensive midfielder because VDB seems like has has a defensive mindset. But thats an experiment yet to be seen if it can work.
We also need someone on the right. What ever happened to Greenwood? Who knows. In his absence we need Mata. Even if you think Mata is slow and no good etc. Just realize without him in a diamond for example Bruno pushes right to try and fill that space. McTominay pushes right and tries to help defensively. The shape is all out of sorts. We need a RW even if the RW is sht and has a bad game its better that no RW.
 

Trex

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When I really think of this personnel really matter if u consider Liverpool and Manchester city attacking structure you'll see five players each attacking five separate zones from right wing(Mahrez,Arnold)right half space (Debruyne,Salah)centre(Firmino,Aguero)left half space (Silva, Mane) and left wing (Robertson, sterling) all potent and a blend of playmaking and goalscoring capability,compare that to United were Awb who is our right wing attacker wouldn't produce half any of this players output

The blend of Martial, Rashford and Greenwood isn't balance with all of them being more goal threats lacking genuine creative skill they all want to play just around the box,they don't stretch opponent enough,non of them is good at dropping 40m away from goal to aid ball progression or a threat while hugging the touchline

I hope Amad Diallo can bring this qualities,from what I've seen (YouTube) he looks the kind of right who can provide width on the right wing and bring those qualities,if he can be matured enough to be trusted is unknown

Going forward I'll like to see and attacking five of
Left back(Telles)inside forward(Rashford)centre forward (Martial or Cavani) and right winger( Amad diallo or someone else) with Awb sitting deeper alongside the two cm covering the centre halfs,it think it would give us better balance going forward
 

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I think Telles off the left can help us break down low block teams. At home I'd like to see a midfield three against low blocks of Fred, Van de Beek, and Fernandes. I suspect that VDB can be responsible defensively while offering a bit more going forward than McTominay. Up front I wouldn't mind seeing more of Pogba from the left with two of Rashford, Martial, Greenwood, Cavani in the other two spots. I think Pogba is (or at least can be) better than Mata in this type of role.
 

romufc

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I think Telles off the left can help us break down low block teams. At home I'd like to see a midfield three against low blocks of Fred, Van de Beek, and Fernandes. I suspect that VDB can be responsible defensively while offering a bit more going forward than McTominay. Up front I wouldn't mind seeing more of Pogba from the left with two of Rashford, Martial, Greenwood, Cavani in the other two spots. I think Pogba is (or at least can be) better than Mata in this type of role.
Why are people so insistent on playing VDB in CM when he is clearly a 10? VDB played in the said role against Istanbul and we were left with no defensive cover.

Again, Pogba does not offer enough defensively, neither does Rashford. Playing all those attacking players is the problem, there will be no balance to the team. Playing too many attacking players will also mean they get in each others way.

Its more structure we need to get right.