Why are we obsessed with playing with only 2 midfielders?

mu4c_20le

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Chelsea play 2 midfielders - 3-4-3 is their most common formation. But this formation suits Kanté the most because he's a one-man band in that he's like peak Keane or Vieira in that he can run a midfield up and down the pitch on his own. Jorginho and Kovacic are also very good.
It's because of Mount. He often drops deep and acts as their third midfielder. There is a reason this guy plays literally all the time.
 

Reapersoul20

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To add to this, why are we obsessed with playing high-press football....winning the ball back high up the pitch should be secondary to keeping the ball for more than 3 passes after we do. City don't even press that much anymore statistically and "that's the level we need to aspire to". Agree re two midfielders...dont think a silver bullet exists though really, does it? Fred and McTom are amongst our best performers this season, somehow. This is not me praising them, but more a damning indictment of the rest of the squad. It's so frustrating. Everyone, on paper, has some fantastic qualities...but how to put them together on the pitch?
 

roonster09

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What other (good) teams get away with playing this system? Chelsea play 3 midfielders, Liverpool play 3 midfielders, City might push forwards more but they still have 3 people occupying the midfield.
They dominate the game not because they play with 3 midfielders, they play compact game and squeeze the space when not in possession. Its all about team play, City played 4-1-4-1 with 1 CM/DM and 2 AMs (KdB and David Silva), still they dominated every game because of their style of play.

Point is, 2 CMs or 3 CMs won't make much difference, system and the way coach wants the team to play makes the biggest difference.
 

Lee565

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I find it hard to believe we can't create a make shift defensive midfielder from our squad over the past 5 seasons. Sir alex was able to get competent performances out of phil Neville, o'shea, alan smith and phil jones as a defensive midfielder.
 

redshaw

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Bruno used to drop back a lot for Sporting, he was their main man winning the ball back, closing people down and would end up having more longer range shots. He was playing like a high scoring Herrera but he's evolved to be more advance behind the striker here and has been very effective as well. I think Bruno can just be a bit more disciplined like he was against Atalanta away, he came on and was a little deeper and played many accurate passes in the middle. Against Villa he's pushing so far up I found it incredible with the lack of control we had in that game he wasn't asked to sit deeper, we got dominated by them and after all that's gone on in the past weeks plus losing to a dominant Wolves at OT.

We need a 3 man midfield with either Bruno sitting deeper or perhaps giving him a free role higher up in some games and bringing in Donny to help out. Donny was very good at Ajax helping out the midfield but he's not a main man midfielder in a two, more just helping out pressing and closing people down while passing quickly, a bit like Fred for Shakhtar. We have too many attacking or supportive midfielders.

One of Donny's best games for us was at home to Leipzig where we won 5-0, he was excellent doing a lot of covering, quick one touch passes to beat their press, the other players started to follow suit. For 10-15 mins they had us pinned back and we struggled until Donny really took control and lead by example, it's a shame he hasn't been more utilized and has been pretty much dropped since then. He couldn't even get a start in the away game with players missing and we went 2-0 down in the opening minutes. They exposed AWB, the plan they wanted to do at the home game.
 
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Beachryan

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Don't we technically have a third midfielder, he just can't find his way into our half anymore?
 

CloneMC16

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I've been asking this question for over a year. It's largely why we get dominated every game. I thought this might change when Ole got sacked, but we're still doing the same thing with Rangnick. It's baffling to me how we can play like this for so long and never change anything. Pack the midfield, and maybe we won't look like complete shit every game.

If Bruno is not going to play as a #8, he should be used as a false #9 or on the bench. We can't afford to keep playing like we are.
 

the chameleon

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When we signed Bruno, it was as a midfielder. He was supposed to be part of a midfield 3. People talked about his assists and work rate and how he made those runs into box to assist and score.

I don't know what has happened. He is now suddenly talked about as a non-midfielder.

We would have less problems if we allowed Bruno to play as an actual midfielder that also scores goals. That previous format worked well and papered over the lack ability that McFred have.

The only way now we can fix this is to get a Neves type of midfielder.

Ideally Bruno, should be retrained and told that he's free to get involved in the attacking play like he did when joined, but ultimately, he's a midfielder.
Because of Bruno.
 

ManchesterManchester

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Really good thread highlighting one of our main issues. Although I think what else can managers do? They can only work with the players they have. The board has stacked us with loads of attackers and no midfielders due to us having no DOF for years. Obviously I fully agree we need to start controlling the games through midfield as every good team does.
 

GazTheLegend

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@noodlehair completely agree. Don't understand why we try things like 4 up front, then go to 5 at the back, all the while completely ignoring where football games actually get won and lost and leave 2-3 bodies in the middle. Very odd. And you can see it during the games: the ball is with McTominay or Fred, and we have 4 players in a line 40-50 yards ahead of them, all marked 1-1. They get crowded out, go backwards or sideways, then we either lose the ball or it goes back to de Gea meekly. Our players simply aren't close enough to each other and it makes them look -shit-, even though the systems let them down at the same time.
 

Foxbatt

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Well, you can either count Bruno as a midfielder, in which case we do play with 3, or you can count him as a forward, in which case we play 2 to fit Bruno in.
That is the problem. Initially when he came we played counter attacking football with us defending deep and Bruno does not have to do much defending. The only option is the 4222 but I feel Ralf needs to be brave and play both Bruno and DVB in the 422 and two strikers up front. It does not help that when we have the ball McTominay seems to be lost too most of the time.
 

Rood

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Carrick played 3 midfielders Vs Chelsea - we weren't great but got a good result
 

Foxbatt

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Carrick played 3 midfielders Vs Chelsea - we weren't great but got a good result
Exactly. People talk about overloading one side or the other but we for some odd reason let the opponents always overload our midfield.
 

romufc

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I actually think the 4-4-2 diamond is the formation that can suit us really well.

This way you are able to have 3 midfielders, Bruno and 2 Forwards.

...........................De Gea
Dalot .......Varane......Maguire..... Shaw
...................... McTominay
...........Donny .....................Fred
........................... Bruno
.............Greenwood......Ronaldo
 

allen7

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I think its due to the fact that we are most successful from wing play in terms of chance creation and penetrating into the opposition box.
I remember few times we played with 3 midfielders but our game wasn’t exciting and created few chances because of our midfield players inability to find spaces or move into target positions.
Comparatively our wide players have helped breaking teams easily so the managers prefer the easy path.

433 is an exciting formation but personally 4231 suits us more.

For 433 to be a consistent success, a team needs at least 1 quality DM and 3 CMs and 2 squad players (chelsea and city) has. So a total of 6 competing for 3 positions.

A 4231 will accommodate bruno, sancho, greenwood along with a striker.
A 433 has to sacrifice bruno and depend on DVB, McFred creativity
 

Gavinb33

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I posted this the other day pretty much.

The only way I see it working with current personnel is to play Matic at the base with Scott and Fred as the legs and play in a way akin to Liverpool whose midfielders with the exception of Fabihno are quite workmanlike
 
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Agreed.

The 4-2-2-2 was a logical response to our early season issue, which saw our front 4 getting by passed and our middle and defensive thirds being overrun by everyone we played.

IF we played the 4-2-2-2 the way it was designed to played. For argument's sake, the RB Leipzig way. Then it would be difficult to play through the middle of us. This would force opponents down the sides of us, acting as a pressing trigger where the team can use the touchline to force the opponents into bodies. Or force them to play long balls and put the onus on our back line to win 1v1s.

However, besides the first half against Palace we have not seen the players picked as #10s in the 4-2-2-2 do the requisite work to make the system function as designed.
Spot on.

Till our two behind the strikers learn to do more off the ball. Realizing they are actually attacking midfielders allowed to drift wide, not deep lying forwards. We will keep getting overrun and struggling in games to control or keep the ball in midfield battles
 

NoPace

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Fernandes needs to play further up the field if you want the best of him, not deeper.

The reason we don’t play a 3 man midfield right now is simply because you just can’t with the players we have.

A 3 man midfield probably suits the wide attackers a bit more (Rashford/Greenwood/Sancho), but it comes at the cost of Fernandes who would then have no position, unless you play him as a false 9 (he simply cannot play in a midfield 3 or out wide). Not 100% sure the current Ronaldo can really play as a single no.9 like that either as his build-up isn’t there anymore.
It's possible Bruno would be better off as a false 9 or a narrow wide man in a front 3. I don't feel like I know because what's best for Bruno may not be what's best for his team.

Kinda feels like his ideal position is one of the 2 in a 3-4-2-1 like Chelsea play often and Sporting do.
 

Andrew7582

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We just don't have good enough midfielders no matter if you play 2, 3 or 4, RR's hands are tied.
 

Florida Man

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If the argument against a 3 man midfield is the lack of CDM, then what does that say about persisting with a 2 man midfield?
 

devilish

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Why would different managers come to the same conclusions? Maybe they are seeing something in training that we can't see? Or is it down to player's contracts/politics which ends up forcing the manager's hands?
 

RedRonaldo

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2 reason:
- We don’t have any strong DM
- Bruno is more like shadow striker in 4231 rather than one of 3 midfielders in 433
 

Ogaranya

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There is nothing wrong with playing two CMs, its all about the quality of the central midfielders, if we play three inferior quality CMs, we will struggle to create chances due to the inability of the CMs we have to connect with the front three.

Get two quality central midfielders and see 4231 come to life.
 

ayushreddevil9

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Why would different managers come to the same conclusions? Maybe they are seeing something in training that we can't see? Or is it down to player's contracts/politics which ends up forcing the manager's hands?
When we had appointmented LvG, I watched some of his interviews on YT. In one of them he said that he plays a 433 and that the only one he has ever played.

Even he ended up messing around with bs formations. Idk what happens to them when they join utd.
 

Craig Ward

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I'm amazed we dont play 3 midfielders.

We always look disjointed from the back to attack, as McTom and Fred are deployed deep then it's always a huge gap to bruno and the wide players & striker. It's why we have so many holes and are so easy to break through.

Looking at our players, we should really be playing 4-3-2-1

A solid back 4 with full backs, a midfield 3, 2 wide forwards and a central striker.

A midfield 3 would work - Bruno is a central midfield player - what we are doing with him now is putting him in no mans land. He would be more instrumental in a 3 with freedom to make them runs into the attacking areas.

We cannot play with a 2 any longer
 

FortBoyard

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I find it hard to believe we can't create a make shift defensive midfielder from our squad over the past 5 seasons. Sir alex was able to get competent performances out of phil Neville, o'shea, alan smith and phil jones as a defensive midfielder.
This is a good point, and totally valid. SAF was adept at this, and although we moaned at times it definitely worked.

If SAF had these resources i would say Lindelof may have been tried.
 

DutchCruijff

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Because Rangnick is out of his depth.

2 man midfield with McTominay-Matic and you expect to press?

2 man midfield with McTominay-Fred and you expect to dominate possession as well as produce progressive play?

Sticking Fernandes on the wing/half-wing where he's sulking and ineffective just adding misery.

Comical errors. Amateur errors.
 

Jericholyte2

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I think the two midfielders can work behind Bruno, but we need to make sure that Bruno is more disciplined and doesn't become another striker. His skill is in working between midfield and defense, finding pockets and passing through lines, as well as finding shooting places. But he often gets 'nullified' by going too far forward. So this mock-up below, I think, can work:

-----DM-----------------
-----------------CM-----
--------Bruno----------

But it often becomes:
-----DM---------------------
-----------------CM---------
-------------------------------
-------------------------------
--ST----Bruno----ST----
 

Trex

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It would be good if we play a system with three in midfield but at the same time we need to work on our movement and also the work ethic of the forwards, its almost like they believe they have to work less than the rest of the team
 

BazzaBear

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Just been thinking about this more and more. Not only now but for the majority of Ole's tenure, we seem to insist on having 2 midfielders
You're not going back far enough! I can remember way back even into the Fergie era games where we were overrun in midfield simply because we were outnumbered there. In fact, I'm sure I remember it being a pretty big factor in one of the Barcelona final losses (although don't ask me for details, my memory is lousy).
 

Remember the geese

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Fred and McTominay get critised a lot, but it's hardly a surprise that our midfield gets overrun when everyone else play a three. To make matters worse, neither of the two we do play are holding midfield players. I'd like to see us sign at least one midfielder, possibly two. I would also like to see us try Bruno as a false 9.
 

redshaw

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I actually think the 4-4-2 diamond is the formation that can suit us really well.

This way you are able to have 3 midfielders, Bruno and 2 Forwards.

...........................De Gea
Dalot .......Varane......Maguire..... Shaw
...................... McTominay
...........Donny .....................Fred
........................... Bruno
.............Greenwood......Ronaldo
This is best way I feel.

Bruno likes to cover the whole central and left side, he can operate around that area, put a short cross ball to Ronaldo from the left which is one of his most dangerous plays and come central as well. Ronaldo can start left and move centrally. Sancho can easily swap with Greenwood.
 

SadlerMUFC

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We won't play a 3 man midfield as long as Bruno continues to play as a #10. I would love to see us play a true 4-3-3 with Bruno on the left wing. Doubt it will ever happen though
 

romufc

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This is best way I feel.

Bruno likes to cover the whole central and left side, he can operate around that area, put a short cross ball to Ronaldo from the left which is one of his most dangerous plays and come central as well. Ronaldo can start left and move centrally. Sancho can easily swap with Greenwood.
This way you are guaranteed to have a player in the box because Ronaldo or Greenwood will go in, Bruno has the licence to go past them knowing he has not just McFred but a third player behind.

It also includes the 2 favoured players by managers in McFred with a technical player like Donny, we can dominate the midfield more.

Then like you say, Sancho can play there, Rashford can play in one of the 2 forward positions too.