Two up top?

Bastian

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Best to caveat this with - if Pogba leaves.

Given Ole's penchant for declaring his old school nature and his being steeped in SAF's football culture, and given we have three forwards who do not really function as lone strikers stretching play (as focal points) and providing an option in the box (though Mason may of course get there in time) I wonder if playing two up top with one hard working striker might suit our attacking play?

I know football has mostly evolved to having fluid attackers and there's a dearth of bona fide #9s. The few teams who play two strikers seem to mostly be long-ball-punters, but Leicester have been playing two strikers recently, Brighton did yesterday, and both are actual footballing sides.

Now, whether this detracts from our other personnel is the question and whether we could handle it in midfield. I can definitely see Bruno working as a #8 next to a workhorse who's main job is to keep things tight in our half (for most setups, we need a more capable defensive midfielder anyway). This obviously wouldn't work with two "forwards" playing wide, looking to constantly cutting inside, instead of stretching play and providing service to the strikers, but I would really like to see Mason/Rashford/Martial play in a front two, next to a striker (Cavani if he stays) to see whether we can become less one dimensional going forward. Could even work with just one orthodox winger/wide player, and Rashford on the left.

You lot going to tell me to go back to the 90s, or anyone fancy a bit of a two striker combo?
 

Eli Zee

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I've been saying for a long time that a 4-2-2-2 would be awesome and I think fit our players better, considering we don't have a true RW.

Cavani/Martial/Rashford/Greenwood as forwards.
Pogba/Bruno/VDB as attacking CMs.
Fred/McTominay/Matic as the more defensive CMs (probably need to invest in another CDM).
Defensive line remains the same.

it wouldn't work for every game and maybe not so much for players like Daniel James, but they could always switch up to a different formation when rotating the squad..
 

Champ

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There seems to be a fallacy that playing 442 means you're old fashioned or a kick and rush team.
That couldn't be further from the truth.
The simple fact is most teams are adaptable, we have played a bastardised 442 several times this season, just when we are out of possession it changes to a 4231 or a 451.
Formations in modern football are a lot more interchangeable and adaptable. Very rarely does a team stay the same throughout 90 minutes.
 

KikiDaKats

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Call it what you may but we already play 442. Playing 2 out and out strikers might mean a bit of a change from some of the players we have.
 

OleBoiii

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Ole's core beliefs(or whatever the feck you want to call it) have been fairly consistent throughout his managerial career:

Practically non-negotiable:
- 3 midfielders. Typically a double pivot, but not always.
- 3 forwards. The wide forwards should not have that many defensive responsibilities.

Ideally(depending on the players available):
- All players in midfield and defence should be comfortable with the ball. This is why we play the ball out from the back and loaned out Smalling immediately even though he was better than Lindelöf, Bailly and Jones.
- High defensive line, with fullbacks making overlapping runs. We're not quite there yet, apart from against weak opponents.

Basically: we're not gonna see 4-4-2 in any form, apart from the odd game. It's not how Ole likes to play and it never has been. Ole likes his technical attacking midfielders the same way Fergie liked his goal machines.
 

dinostar77

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I'd suggest you have a read or listen to
The Mixer: The Story of Premier League Tactics, from Route One to False Nines
Book by Michael Cox


A fantastic read which explains the evolution of tactics in PL and how some roles fell out of use i.e. two up top. Football is cyclical so some roles may make a comeback i.e two up top, others may not i.e. sweeper (mattaus sammer great example).

There are numerous reasons why it fell away. One of those was the PL importing more no10s who drifted in between the lines of the 442 defence and midfield. That caused havoc as to who was supposed to pick up the no10. The fix for that became having a midfield pivot infront of the back four ala, fabinho, makelele etc.

Also english clubs were getting found out in europe, being out manned in midfield and then not getting the ball back for awhile as the possession based teams just knocked it around until they were ready to pounce.

Its an interesting idea. I do wonder how CB pairings would cope with two strikers playing together and keeping each CB busy. I guess you'd switch to a back 3 then so you have a CB spare against a 442. You'd also have misfield supremacy.
 

Bastian

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Ole's core beliefs(or whatever the feck you want to call it) have been fairly consistent throughout his managerial career:

Practically non-negotiable:
- 3 midfielders. Typically a double pivot, but not always.
- 3 forwards. The wide forwards should not have that many defensive responsibilities.

Ideally(depending on the players available):
- All players in midfield and defence should be comfortable with the ball. This is why we play the ball out from the back and loaned out Smalling immediately even though he was better than Lindelöf, Bailly and Jones.
- High defensive line, with fullbacks making overlapping runs. We're not quite there yet, apart from against weak opponents.

Basically: we're not gonna see 4-4-2 in any form, apart from the odd game. It's not how Ole likes to play and it never has been. Ole likes his technical attacking midfielders the same way Fergie liked his goal machines.
I don't think any of those are non-negotiable. Ole has been limited to certain tactical options. That much is clear. But he's also bought in a way that keeps certain limitations in place - i.e. Maguire and the high line, AWB and playing out from the back against the high press, selling Lukaku/Fellaini which made sure we couldn't really win the first ball if we went long with the goal kicks. Note: I'm not disputing the sense of these transfers, just making that point about tactical flexibility.

I'd suggest you have a read or listen to
The Mixer: The Story of Premier League Tactics, from Route One to False Nines
Book by Michael Cox


A fantastic read which explains the evolution of tactics in PL and how some roles fell out of use i.e. two up top. Football is cyclical so some roles may make a comeback i.e two up top, others may not i.e. sweeper (mattaus sammer great example).

There are numerous reasons why it fell away. One of those was the PL importing more no10s who drifted in between the lines of the 442 defence and midfield. That caused havoc as to who was supposed to pick up the no10. The fix for that became having a midfield pivot infront of the back four ala, fabinho, makelele etc.

Also english clubs were getting found out in europe, being out manned in midfield and then not getting the ball back for awhile as the possession based teams just knocked it around until they were ready to pounce.

Its an interesting idea. I do wonder how CB pairings would cope with two strikers playing together and keeping each CB busy. I guess you'd switch to a back 3 then so you have a CB spare against a 442. You'd also have misfield supremacy.
I'm not arguing for going back to this, perpetually, but as a tactical option. So pretty much not in Europe, unless we're up against "easier" sides. I would like to see how playing next to a striker who positionally plays as a striker, our three young forwards benefit, up top. Not in a wide role cutting inside, but as part of a two striker attacking line. But of course, it requires more tinkering with the team, making sure the midfield can handle the workload and the strikers defending from the front. It also requires wide players who can positionally play as wide players (even if they may look to cut inside, but the option needs to be there as a matter of unpredictability).

I'd love to but we are hand cuffed with Bruno really, he just needs to play in the hole
I definitely think he can play as an #8. He's got the long range passing, he's got the dribbling ability if he's backed up by a proper DM, and he's quite clearly got the work rate. It make take away from his game, but equally, it may provide him with more options to pass to and, if executed well, more space.

Some are saying that we do within games have that tactical fluidity and sure, that's true, to a degree. But we do not have two strikers occupying defenders for the most part. Even if we're playing 2-3 "strikers", they are responsible for our build up and width, which means there's little happening inside the box unless Cavani is playing and taking up positions.

This doesn't have to translate to a rigid 442, it can be a a 442 in possession, and a 4411 out of possession. For it to work, there has to be both bite and creativity in midfield. I suggested this as an idea if Pogba were to leave. Then we're down to no creativity in midfield and Bruno at #10. But with Bruno dropping deeper this becomes plausible.

Often I feel we struggle with our two centre backs when they are having to mind two strikers. I'd like to see how this can work in the opposite manner.
 

OleBoiii

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I don't think any of those are non-negotiable. Ole has been limited to certain tactical options.
What I mean by "non-negotiable" is that this is Ole's approach to the formation. 3 midfielders have been a staple throughout his career, regardless of players at his disposal. He's an adaptable coach, but he clearly does not want to change certain things if he can avoid it.

3 midfielders and 3 forwards(with few defensive responsibilities) is going to define our football under Ole for the foreseeable future. You can argue for 2 up top as much as you want, but it's not going to happen apart from the odd game.
 

Oranges038

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I've been saying for a long time that a 4-2-2-2 would be awesome and I think fit our players better, considering we don't have a true RW.

Cavani/Martial/Rashford/Greenwood as forwards.
Pogba/Bruno/VDB as attacking CMs.
Fred/McTominay/Matic as the more defensive CMs (probably need to invest in another CDM).
Defensive line remains the same.

it wouldn't work for every game and maybe not so much for players like Daniel James, but they could always switch up to a different formation when rotating the squad..
Would love to see this in a fluid style again, like the old Brazil teams.

You need two good ball playing full backs for that to work. Shaw is good enough, but AWB is appalling on the ball.
 

stefan92

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I'd love to but we are hand cuffed with Bruno really, he just needs to play in the hole
That could work. It would be a massive mistake to get rid of three midfielders - with only two, the midfield won't be able to dominate possession and would risk to be overrun there. 4-4-2 just is not a good formation for a top team any more. But it could be possible to play a kind of 3-5-2:
- the midfield three could stay the same (including Bruno in the hole)
- two strikers could play in/around the box instead of one striker and two wingers
- this needs at least one, but better two wing backs who are also good at attacking two increase pressure and add flexibility up front
- this needs defenders to cover holes left behind by the wing backs, who are comfortable defending on the wing (bit of a CB/FB hybrid)

And I don't really see this type of defender in current United squad, so this would need changes there. Playing a classic 4-4-2 would expose the midfield, playing a 4-2-2-2 would neglect the wings to much, a 3-5-2 would be risky at the back. But I believe it could be a way forward to develop the squad - there could be more value in the market (I hate that phrase) for defensive players than for expensive attacking players.
 

Statue of Limitations

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We were spoiled through the Fergie years with our front 2 exploits. Yorke and Cole 98/99 always spring to mind when I hear "front two"!
I think the game has just changed though and run the risk of being overrun in the midfield with that approach.
 

Foxbatt

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We were spoiled through the Fergie years with our front 2 exploits. Yorke and Cole 98/99 always spring to mind when I hear "front two"!
I think the game has just changed though and run the risk of being overrun in the midfield with that approach.
It was a never two up front with them anyway. Yorkie always drop deep. And normally in that formation we always got into trouble in Europe most of the time anyway.
It's not for two up but as another OP said our options are limited because we sold the players who can bring a different dimension.
 

edcunited1878

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It's not necessarily "two up top" as it is about making up the numbers to be threatening in the box and give yourself a chance to either win the first ball in or win the 2nd and 3rd balls to help fashion a goal scoring chance or quickly recycle the ball in in the final third, thus sustaining the pressure and not allowing the opposition to push up.

With 3 CBs being played a bit more often (e.g. Leicester, Brighton) and teams sitting back, you need to lessen the numerical advantage. Having 1 CF against 3 CBs with the two CMs squeezing the lines even further, it's just a case of one player always following and passing the CF to the other CBs, then keeping your line organized.

But having an inside forward or even better, a midfield runner occupying the channels between a CB and wingback, which United did much better in the second half against Brighton on both flanks, pulls defenders out of position leaving gaps and they're so deep inside their own box. Even when balls are sent into the box and it's halfway cleared, the back lines are pushed so far back and can only push up a few yards before defending another attack.

Having a 4th service provider from the forward line (e.g. RW/RF), would bring United up another level. Shaw (backline), Pogba (central midfield), Bruno (final third/advanced midfield), and X player (forward line) will make a huge difference.
 

UpWithRivers

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4-4-2 wont work because we have lack of proper wingers. You know get to the byline and cross. Also 2 man midfields are more often than not dominated. Teams would just stick the 2 CB's on the front 2, then 3 Midfielders to dominate our 2 and thats the game over. It used to work in bygone years but teams are too wise to it now. I would prefer Bruno as a false 9. Being a 10 just fks the midfield. We could then have a proper 3 man midfield and maybe even not get overrun by bottom half teams.

Rashford-------Bruno-------Greenwood
------Pogba------Fred----Donny

We could at least try that now. If it works then Sancho and a better DM and it could be brilliant.

Rashford-------Bruno-------Sancho
------Pogba------Rice----Donny
 

Walters_19_MuFc

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I do like the idea of playing two up top but even under Sir Alex we very rarely had two out and out strikers. We always had more of a second striker, Rooney, Tevez, Yorke, Smith, etc to facilitate our main striker.

With Bruno, although he will drop and get on the ball, he more or less plays that same role - 10/second striker.