Playing against low-block teams

Gabagoo

New Member
Newbie
Joined
Oct 15, 2020
Messages
246
We need wingers that take players on. The usual reply is "there isn't any space" but that's only true if you're talking about the area around the box.

Having players that actually dribble would take more of theirs out of the game, leaving more space.

Other than dribbling, we need two things: more long shots and more crossing. Why? At worst they yield deflections which often result in corners, getting us higher up the pitch, like pieces on a chess board... and at best result in clean attempts at goal, some of which will really test or beat the keeper.

More shots and crosses for easy wins.
 

Borys

Statistics Wizard
Joined
May 10, 2013
Messages
4,089
Location
Bielsko Biala, Poland
Personally, I think our supposed problems against that teams that defend low are a bit overblown, since Bruno arrived. This is our PL record in games that fit this description during that period:

WBA 1-0
CHE 0-0
NEW 4-1
CP 1-3
WHU 1-1
SH 2-2
CP 2-0
AV 3-0
BRI 3-0
BOU 5-2
SHU 3-0
WAT 3-0

8 wins, 3 draws, 1 loss. 28 goals in 12 games. 9 goals against. 7 clean sheets. At least 3 goals scored in 7 of those 12 games. The one loss was the first game of this season, with all the particular factors impacting that (lack of pre-season etc). 1 of the 3 draws were against Chelsea, whom anyone would struggle to score against when they come to play as defensively as they did in that game.

In other words, more than half of the time, we blow the opposition away (3 goals or more). And we've won 2/3 of the games. This doesn't look to me like a record suggesting a serious systemic problem against teams that defend low.

If there's a negative, it's that the results were much more positive during the first 6 games than in the last 6, which has yielded a result of 2 wins, 3 draws and 1 loss, with 8 goals scored, 7 conceded and 2 clean sheets. Only one game with 3 goals or more scored. Which is of course why this issue is again being raised. However, we still have the same players (and more besides) and the same formation that produced those results last spring, and it's plain from the results that recent struggles can't be due to our not having "cracked the code" on how to beat low-defending teams, or that we lack the personnel or formation to do so.

One notable factor seems to me to be that we've generally been far more successful when we've fielded our best players up front (Rashford, Bruno, Martial, Greenwood) than when we haven't. Which we haven't in any of the above PL games so far this season, for various reasons. This may suggest that as long as we do that, we have the capability to beat low-defending teams, but we don't have the squad depth to perpetuate that ability when we resort to secondary options. Another notable aspect that is hard to miss is that the marvelous run against weak teams last season coincided with Pogbas re-entry into the team. Not saying he was the cause, but there may at least be something about the CM needing more of an offensive spark than McTominay/Fred can provide in such games.
Good to see some reasonable opinion. Actually we don't seem to have a glaring flaw, we tend to do great against low block teams most of the time, Ole had a decent record against top teams most of the time last season . The only pattern I see so far is our attackers are extremely inconsistent. This is also the only major difference between now and the Golden spell we had after lock down.

What's funny is that this season our better run coincided with dropping Pogba.

We need wingers that take players on. The usual reply is "there isn't any space" but that's only true if you're talking about the area around the box.


Having players that actually dribble would take more of theirs out of the game, leaving more space.


Other than dribbling, we need two things: more long shots and more crossing. Why? At worst they yield deflections which often result in corners, getting us higher up the pitch, like pieces on a chess board... and at best result in clean attempts at goal, some of which will really test or beat the keeper.


More shots and crosses for easy wins.
Yes, and I believe Ole is seeing it too. But I don't quite understand your point about dribblers, you mean we should have dribblets in midfield?
 

Foxbatt

Full Member
Joined
Oct 21, 2013
Messages
8,155
Play DVB and Bruno together and they will move the defence and create space.
 

Dominos

Full Member
Joined
Jul 5, 2009
Messages
4,997
Location
Manchester
Delighted with the win obviously. But this looked exactly like last season's 0-0 but with a 93rd minute deflection sprinkled in.

It's not the first time either this season - Palace, Chelsea, Arsenal, Istanbul, West Brom and Wolves have all managed to make us look uttererly clueless in attack.

The main worry for me is they don't actually look like they have a clue as to how to create a chance. What can we actually do to improve this? I know the answers will be sign better players but there must be some coaching and instructional aspect to it, our use of the wide areas may be the worst I've ever seen.
 

PoTMS

Full Member
Joined
Dec 15, 2016
Messages
6,830
We need a plan B. Can't always rely on penalties and deflections.
 

Mindhunter

Full Member
Joined
Jul 26, 2013
Messages
3,083
We need a plan B. Can't always rely on penalties and deflections.
Plan B was Cavani in the center and Telles swinging in crosses from the left. Didn't work either. I think the players were out of energy and that's why we looked pedestrian for long stretches.
 

city-puma

Full Member
Joined
Dec 10, 2020
Messages
368
Location
NYC
Delighted with the win obviously. But this looked exactly like last season's 0-0 but with a 93rd minute deflection sprinkled in.

It's not the first time either this season - Palace, Chelsea, Arsenal, Istanbul, West Brom and Wolves have all managed to make us look uttererly clueless in attack.

The main worry for me is they don't actually look like they have a clue as to how to create a chance. What can we actually do to improve this? I know the answers will be sign better players but there must be some coaching and instructional aspect to it, our use of the wide areas may be the worst I've ever seen.
The issue I think is the midfield two and missing martial. So slow to move the balls, so everything is predictable.
I really hope the league can agree 5-sub rule, so that we can swap the midfield two in a game like this.
 

Castia

Full Member
Joined
Jun 18, 2011
Messages
12,556
Really need good attacking full backs against defensive teams. I like AWB but we’re awful going forward down his side.
 

Dominos

Full Member
Joined
Jul 5, 2009
Messages
4,997
Location
Manchester
Plan B was Cavani in the center and Telles swinging in crosses from the left. Didn't work either. I think the players were out of energy and that's why we looked pedestrian for long stretches.
That wouldn't explain Palace, Chelsea, Arsenal, Istanbul, West Brom - and countless games last season.
 

Ekeke

Full Member
Joined
Aug 1, 2006
Messages
47,859
Location
Hope, We Lose
All we did in that first half was get Telles on the left crossing it in. Thats plenty of help from a fullback.
 

edcunited1878

Full Member
Joined
Sep 3, 2014
Messages
5,050
Location
San Diego, CA
Not enough overlapping runs into the box to drag players out of position or to create space for teammates. Way too many static players from the channels to the touchline. Pogba started doing it more when chasing the goal late today.

Sometimes the players are too far apart and their movements take themselves offside or irrelevant. It's not easy and United's wide players aren't service first, more score first.

Make no bones about it, low block teams and teams with 3 CBs like Wolves today are a struggle to breakdown. Thought United tried to dribble too much inside the box instead of being more direct.
 

davidmichael

Full Member
Joined
Feb 16, 2015
Messages
1,893
How badly we need a right sided attacker has surely never been more clear than today’s game, I think we’re right to make Dortmund sweat on Sancho rather than pay £100+ million but a right sided attacker is our most pressing issue.

AWB offers less than my Nan would going forward as he can’t cross and always looks for a pass when in a great position, Greenwood is NOT a right sided attacker, Mata is a backwards step and never been the answer and Chong is out on loan whilst Pellestri and Diallo aren’t options yet.

If we could be a threat from either side as well as the through the middle we’d do a much better job against low block teams whilst currently teams know that if they stop Fernandes and load up on our left side then we’ll struggle all game to create.
 

Godfather

Full Member
Joined
Feb 18, 2007
Messages
21,655
Location
Austria
We still struggle heavily. Got away with it today but we need to do better. Not easy against a well drilled side like Wolverhampton mind.
 

UNITED ACADEMY

Full Member
Joined
Aug 14, 2018
Messages
7,178
Depends on the opposition. Wolves had very organised centre backs so it was very tough.

But for specifically today, 352 or 343 they played, I thought we did well to create space especially Rashford. He opens so much space down the left to allow Telles to make run/overlap. Today Telles was poor in making those run into space that Rashford opened and that's why Shaw came in. If we have Davies or Reguilon type of left back and right back today which full backs who has pace and can dribble, it could make the difference.
 

Obiorahking_

Full Member
Joined
Mar 17, 2015
Messages
3,531
The boys were tired today so we lost the dynamic edge but I fully agree that we need to do better. Part of it is management, we struggled to established dominance in midfield despite starting Matic Bruno and Pogba who are all really good passers.

Another part of it is definitely personnel. I'll never say AWB isn't a Man United FB but he is not a good footballer. No brains, no technique, no end product and it really hurts us down the right. I don't know if this is my hate for his game clouding my judgement, but at times I can see teammates ignoring him because of how limited he is. Very lucky to have the defensive talents that he has.

Greenwood is actually pretty dangerous and I'd really like to keep giving him a run of games down that side. He had a really good cross in the first half. I think if we made it a point to run sets down the right in the long run we'd do a lot better against deep lying teams.
 

Nou_Camp99

Full Member
Joined
Apr 1, 2013
Messages
5,435
Liverpool struggled vs the WBA bus the other day. Its not easy to break these teams down who deny space. And Wolves are very very good at it.
 

rotherham_red

Full Member
Joined
Mar 12, 2005
Messages
6,093
I'd say today was partly down to Wolves being very very good defensively, and partly us having a rotated XI which had an off day. It happens. We've seen this same lineup create plenty against a similar low block v Everton just last week, and you could hear our coaches cajoling them to move it quicker but it didn't seem to come through until the last 20 or so minutes.

The crucial thing was to get the three points and move on. Fair play to the lads for persevering and getting their just rewards.
 

ScarleyUtd

Full Member
Joined
Dec 12, 2013
Messages
1,525
Really need good attacking full backs against defensive teams. I like AWB but we’re awful going forward down his side.
When he first arrived he was better. I don't know what's happened there. He was woeful going forward.
 

passing-wind

Full Member
Joined
Oct 20, 2013
Messages
2,217
The team looked really flat I think it's solely due to tiredness. I also don't feel Wolves totally shut their defence down to be considered a real low block today. They always had out options and their was space for movement around the wide areas and narrowly through the middle.
 

rotherham_red

Full Member
Joined
Mar 12, 2005
Messages
6,093
Delighted with the win obviously. But this looked exactly like last season's 0-0 but with a 93rd minute deflection sprinkled in.

It's not the first time either this season - Palace, Chelsea, Arsenal, Istanbul, West Brom and Wolves have all managed to make us look uttererly clueless in attack.

The main worry for me is they don't actually look like they have a clue as to how to create a chance. What can we actually do to improve this? I know the answers will be sign better players but there must be some coaching and instructional aspect to it, our use of the wide areas may be the worst I've ever seen.
Almost this exact same XI were carving a similarly dogged Everton apart at will last week, and your hypothesis doesn't explain how we managed to amass the results and performances we did since February.

It can sometimes just be an off day and Wolves being Wolves. They are a very tough nut to crack and not many teams batter them. To my mind, the only team who have this season, have been Liverpool and as much as I hate to say it, they are the elite team in the league.

Harking back to the pre-Bruno days isn't really relevant in this case IMO.
 

Dominos

Full Member
Joined
Jul 5, 2009
Messages
4,997
Location
Manchester
Almost this exact same XI were carving a similarly dogged Everton apart at will last week, and your hypothesis doesn't explain how we managed to amass the results and performances we did since February.

It can sometimes just be an off day and Wolves being Wolves. They are a very tough nut to crack and not many teams batter them. To my mind, the only team who have this season, have been Liverpool and as much as I hate to say it, they are the elite team in the league.

Harking back to the pre-Bruno days isn't really relevant in this case IMO.
All the games I listed are from this season? So not pre-Bruno.

It's not about battering them. It's about looking like you might create a chance, and that's 1/3 of our league games this year where we've looked inept going forward. And we want to be the elite team, so there's no point settling for less than what those above us are producing otherwise we won't overtake them.
 

dave1956

Full Member
Joined
Apr 10, 2016
Messages
302
Why not try 2 old fashioned wingers, runs down the wing Cavani in the centre, cross balls in behind the ndefence so defenders are forced to play facing their own goal and have mid fielders making runs into the box from deep.
 

cyberman

Full Member
Joined
May 26, 2010
Messages
21,177
Only 6 goals less than Liverpool. I think 2nd top scorers in the league.
We create plenty against low blocks
 

rotherham_red

Full Member
Joined
Mar 12, 2005
Messages
6,093
All the games I listed are from this season? So not pre-Bruno.

It's not about battering them. It's about looking like you might create a chance, and that's 1/3 of our league games this year where we've looked inept going forward. And we want to be the elite team, so there's no point settling for less than what those above us are producing otherwise we won't overtake them.
You listed Palace, Spurs, Brighton where we obviously had no fitness. Arsenal and Istanbul were poor I agree, but poor finishing was the issue v WBA, not chance creation. We created less four days later and won 4-1 v Istanbul at home.

This team is still growing and they have undoubtedly gotten better against the low block from early last season but there are things that we need to improve on still. There's no shame in that, but equally one off day with a largely rotated XI which has come amongst a generally pretty good run is not something to extrapolate beyond the game in question.
 

Robindinho

New Member
Newbie
Joined
Aug 6, 2017
Messages
263
Location
The North
Speed of play for me is the main factor.

Instead of movement into space/interchanging/making runs to drag out a defender and create space for someone else.
Or quick passing - 1,2 touch football, we literally play at walking pace with too slow of a build up. Players stood still staring at each other taking too many touches when on the ball.
 

Leroy The Red

Full Member
Joined
Jul 27, 2009
Messages
13,706
Location
London
Biggest problem is the failure to utilise the wide areas. It needs to be drummed into our wing backs that they go as far and wide as possible, just as city and Liverpool do. Shaw and AWB kept cutting back in tonight,. they flat out refuse to run down the wings. They don't seem to get that if they do that you pull the opposition wide. The other thing is players in the box, Rashford, Greenwood and Bruno always coming deep, stop! As soon as our wing backs have the ball flood the box. I cant believe we fail to do something so simple that you can teach an 8 year olds to learn.
 

Dominos

Full Member
Joined
Jul 5, 2009
Messages
4,997
Location
Manchester
You listed Palace, Spurs, Brighton where we obviously had no fitness. Arsenal and Istanbul were poor I agree, but poor finishing was the issue v WBA, not chance creation. We created less four days later and won 4-1 v Istanbul at home.

This team is still growing and they have undoubtedly gotten better against the low block from early last season but there are things that we need to improve on still. There's no shame in that, but equally one off day with a largely rotated XI which has come amongst a generally pretty good run is not something to extrapolate beyond the game in question.
No, I didn't list Spurs and Brighton.

West Brom we needed a spawny handball penalty to win the game. I can't believe anyone watched that game and thought we looked like a top team in attack, against the 2nd worst team in the league no less. We had a much higher XG against Istanbul home.

It's hard to look at patterns when not every team plays defensive against us and the sample size at this stage of the season will only ever amount to a few games. What we do know however is 5 out of 15 league games we've looked completely limp in attack.
 

rotherham_red

Full Member
Joined
Mar 12, 2005
Messages
6,093
No, I didn't list Spurs and Brighton.

West Brom we needed a spawny handball penalty to win the game. I can't believe anyone watched that game and thought we looked like a top team in attack, against the 2nd worst team in the league no less. We had a much higher XG against Istanbul home.

It's hard to look at patterns when not every team plays defensive against us and the sample size at this stage of the season will only ever amount to a few games. What we do know however is 5 out of 15 league games we've looked completely limp in attack.
Martial could have had at least 2 himself before the penalty against West Brom, and I'm sure there were other opportunities. The difference between that performance and Istanbul was we scored early in the latter. And also let's not forget, this is the same WBA who have held Liverpool, City and Chelsea to draws. That win is looking better and better as the weeks roll by. To complain about the performance in it is churlish to say the least.

That not every team is playing defensively against us should tell you that we've come on in this regard. Around this time last year literally every non-Top 6 team had their MO to play against us and they performed it to a tee. As a result, we had 10 less points than we have now at the same stage. We're not the finished article and we're one of the youngest teams and squads in the league. What we have, is the principles of our play but the application of those principles are not yet consistently being put into action.

We've also been scoring 2s and 3s in the majority of our games (even in some of our losses) and we're currently joint second in goals scored this season so far. If we're looking clueless in attack, what does that say about the rest of our Top 4 rivals?
 

Polar

New Member
Newbie
Joined
Dec 5, 2020
Messages
236
How badly we need a right sided attacker has surely never been more clear than today’s game, I think we’re right to make Dortmund sweat on Sancho rather than pay £100+ million but a right sided attacker is our most pressing issue.

AWB offers less than my Nan would going forward as he can’t cross and always looks for a pass when in a great position, Greenwood is NOT a right sided attacker, Mata is a backwards step and never been the answer and Chong is out on loan whilst Pellestri and Diallo aren’t options yet.

If we could be a threat from either side as well as the through the middle we’d do a much better job against low block teams whilst currently teams know that if they stop Fernandes and load up on our left side then we’ll struggle all game to create.
Many good points, especially the last one: being a threat from either side.

We play very safe and a bit one dimensional in our established attack. I want our wings and backs to challenge more 1 to 1 in order to create
unbalance or get free to the deadline. I also want them to pass more crossings into the box from distance.

Today the players rarely do determined runs in the box, because they don’t expect crossings to come. With the absence of crossings into the box we also miss the opportunity to win the second ball close to the goal and shooting from distance.
 

Denis' cuff

Full Member
Joined
May 13, 2007
Messages
7,536
Location
here
Almost this exact same XI were carving a similarly dogged Everton apart at will last week, and your hypothesis doesn't explain how we managed to amass the results and performances we did since February.

It can sometimes just be an off day and Wolves being Wolves. They are a very tough nut to crack and not many teams batter them. To my mind, the only team who have this season, have been Liverpool and as much as I hate to say it, they are the elite team in the league.

Harking back to the pre-Bruno days isn't really relevant in this case IMO.
it did help that Liverpool found a breakthrough much earlier, thus, opening them up for further goals ... but yep, agree.

Were going to see a few more of these type of games with players tiring on both sides.
 

justsomebloke

Full Member
Joined
Oct 25, 2020
Messages
400
Delighted with the win obviously. But this looked exactly like last season's 0-0 but with a 93rd minute deflection sprinkled in.

It's not the first time either this season - Palace, Chelsea, Arsenal, Istanbul, West Brom and Wolves have all managed to make us look uttererly clueless in attack.

The main worry for me is they don't actually look like they have a clue as to how to create a chance. What can we actually do to improve this? I know the answers will be sign better players but there must be some coaching and instructional aspect to it, our use of the wide areas may be the worst I've ever seen.
I don't think that's accurate. If anything, the ability to create chances is a distinct strong point of this team, and they do that better and more frequently than almost all other teams in the PL. That's why we're tied for second in goals scored. The games you list above are not the rule, they are the exception.

So, what can we make of them? The two I'd pick on there is Chelsea and Wolves, and to that I'd add the draw against City. Unlike the others, which were basically just bad games for different reasons, they all exemplify something meaningful: We're still struggling to break down strong teams that play a low block (or at least play with a clear emphasis on defence). That's kind of a new issue, because up until recently, no strong teams saw the need to play a low block against us. It'll be interesting to see what sort of response we evolve to that. But at least we're not losing those games either.

At least, we no longer generally struggle with any team that plays a low block. For the most part, we've been demolishing those for almost a year now.
 

Dominos

Full Member
Joined
Jul 5, 2009
Messages
4,997
Location
Manchester
I don't think that's accurate. If anything, the ability to create chances is a distinct strong point of this team, and they do that better and more frequently than almost all other teams in the PL. That's why we're tied for second in goals scored. The games you list above are not the rule, they are the exception.

So, what can we make of them? The two I'd pick on there is Chelsea and Wolves, and to that I'd add the draw against City. Unlike the others, which were basically just bad games for different reasons, they all exemplify something meaningful: We're still struggling to break down strong teams that play a low block (or at least play with a clear emphasis on defence). That's kind of a new issue, because up until recently, no strong teams saw the need to play a low block against us. It'll be interesting to see what sort of response we evolve to that. But at least we're not losing those games either.

At least, we no longer generally struggle with any team that plays a low block. For the most part, we've been demolishing those for almost a year now.
You know I completely forgot about the City game because they're not a park the bus side, but that's another game to add to the list we've not threatened enough.

As for whether they're exceptions, that's 6 out of 15 league games where we've attacked really, really poorly - Palace, Arsenal, Chelsea, West Brom, City and Wolves.

Does 6/15 count as outliers? Maybe it's a normal ratio for top teams, I'm not sure. I do think if we want to ascend seriously I'd want to us improve our "bottom level". We can't be having games where we don't look a threat as often as we are surely? It's not just that 6 out of 15 we were below our usual level, that's 6 out of 15 games where it didn't look like we had any idea how to create a chance. You can have an off game but still have some goal threat, in our off games we're shockingly impotent going forward.
 
Joined
Jun 26, 2014
Messages
8,368
Location
Behind the right goal post as "Whiteside shoots!"
Wolves played well/very organised but we didn't stretch them enough
  • Move the ball from def to mid, then mid to fwds, quicker. Wolves had loads of time to set themselves
  • If you're going to go side to side, do it much quicker else opposition just have a drift midfield (bit like a drift defence in rugby) supporting the defence and they always have numbers - there were times when we slowly moved it wide and AWB was up against a LB and 2 MFers
  • Pass between the lines
  • Mix it up by sometimes running straight at them, at pace. Once you get past 'your man', someone behind him has to move to you which creates holes for others
  • Play the odd long ball .. we did a couple, didn't always work out though goal sort of came from one

Be adventurous, be (much) faster and mix the play... from first minute. We have the players so no excuse.
 

RuudTom83

Full Member
Joined
Sep 30, 2013
Messages
2,075
Location
Manc
2nd in the league shows United are fairly good at breaking teams down already, but when you consider the right side is contributing very little, you can’t not be excited!

Improve the right side!
 

rotherham_red

Full Member
Joined
Mar 12, 2005
Messages
6,093
it did help that Liverpool found a breakthrough much earlier, thus, opening them up for further goals ... but yep, agree.

Were going to see a few more of these type of games with players tiring on both sides.
Yeah, exactly. I said as much re the difference between WBA and Istanbul as well. Game states play a massive role in results and resultant performances.

There were so many games last season that Liverpool got a goal against the run of play and promptly proceeded steamroller the opposition which were often times forgotten in the aftermath. That's what we used to do at times also, and we need to start doing it more often.
 

RedDevilCanuck

Quite dreamy - blue eyes, blond hair, tanned skin
Joined
Feb 22, 2007
Messages
7,337
Location
The GTA
We don't have a Nani or Zaha who guarantee to roast a fullback at least 2 times a game from a standing start.

These players aren't world beaters but 9 out of 10 times destroy teams with less quality.

A dangerous Dribbler gives so much more space for Martial and Rashford and even Pogba and Bruno.

Lets hope Diallo can provide this.
 

Flexdegea

New Member
Newbie
Joined
May 28, 2013
Messages
612
Hate to be the one who says this.....,....


But football not robots playing. We been doing 'low block' teams for a while.



Had same issues when options like Ronaldo Rooney scholes and wonder manger where about. You get games like this
 

Offside

Euro 2016 sweepstake winner
Joined
Jun 9, 2012
Messages
20,200
Location
Yorkshire
Our attackers don’t have the patience or the technical ability that is needed against these teams. Rashford and Fernandes constantly trying things that don’t come off or losing the ball as they’re crowded out. Need nippy and patient players - surprised we didn’t play Mata as he was the difference in the cup (the only time we’ve beaten them in the last 100 years)

Then we have a pedestrian midfield who knock it around the middle when really you need to camp out in their third and almost bore them into making a mistake. An upgrade on Pogba would be nice and a younger version of Mata (or a seriously nippy RW)

The thing is, against a team like Wolves there is almost no answer when they play like that but one thing you can do is be solid because you’re always likely to get 1 goal even if it’s a lucky deflection. Title’s can be built on 1-0’s. That’s why I think we need a CB to ensure complete solidity - basically the way Bailly played today but someone more consistent and less injury prone.
 

Red00012

Full Member
Joined
Jan 18, 2018
Messages
4,842
A low block coupled with AWB as the attacking full back is not a good mix