With what we have: How do we stop the hole in our central defence?

ROFLUTION

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We've let in 7 goals in 3 matches. Quite unusual for a Mourinho team.

Bailly / Lindelöf have looked very shaky, with a personal error bound to happen. Smalling seems the most stable option, so is it possible we should look to other options and maybe try Matic or Valencia in central defence to partner Smalling?

Both have the physique. Both can play the ball out. Both are "stable" players. Would it be worth the chance? Jones is injured, so why not?

Not interested in people crying over Woodward or Mourinho in this post. Be constructive please. The purpose is not to moan about something we can do nothing about now.
 

ROFLUTION

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And how do we stop my spelling error in the thread-title? Should say hole. I've been listening too much to Atomic Kitten :lol::nervous:
 

Crashoutcassius

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The way we played last season we had an exceptional defence. Otherwise there might be no magic way to play attacking football and not leave defenders exposed. That said, saf managed it with Jones and smalling at cb.
 

Physiocrat

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I can see a 5-3-2 coming.

---------------------------------DDG----------------
Valencia--Smalling--Lindelof--Bailly---Young
---------------------------------Matic------------------------
------------------------Fred----------Pogba--------------
---------------------Lukaku--------Sanchez
 

spiriticon

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Press from the front. Keep possession in the opponents half.

The less the ball reaches your penalty area, the better.
 

FromTheBench

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Bailly/Smalling with Matic screening is probably our best option right now. Sadly.
Bailly Smalling Mourinho won't play as both don't seem comfortable on the left side.

Actually none of our defenders do. Wheres Rojo?
 

Bestietom

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A whole new backline besides Shaw. They are not good enough for Manchester United. Same as manager.
 

VeevaVee

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We aren't drilled enough and our players don't seem smart enough to play our own football without looking shaky. The defence was flattered by reserved tactics in the past.
 

SER19

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Its clear whats happening. We have tried to play a little more on the front foot and been woefully exposed. The role of our defensive set up in getting 81 points last year was neccesary and now with pressure on to change the football were trying to do it with poor players at the back. Would alderweireld and maguire or even van dijk if we go back a year have helped? Absolutely. You can say that bailly and lindelof were mourinho signings but woodward has proven that hes not necessarily delivering the top targets. Theyre mourinhos signings from what woodward could deliver.
 

Nytram Shakes

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I mean to be simple:
  • You don't play Jones on the left-hand side of 3 centre backs.
  • You don't play Herrera as centre back, especially not the right-sided centre-back, a position we have players coming out of our ears for.
  • You don't use Pereira, as a defensive Midfielder who drops in to be a 3rd centre back.
  • You do play players in positions they are actually good at and suited too!
 

Kush

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To play the sort of football everyone dreads on this forum, we tried to play on the front foot yesterday. Mourinho worked out a good plan, Herrera's position was confusing the shit out of Spurs and it allowed one of the runners from midfield to constantly break through their lines. We just shot ourselves in the foot with the mistake on 1st goal and after that heads dropped, they seemed resigned to accepting their fate at that point.

His job is on the line and next two away games are crucial, he is going to set us up ultra defensively from here on. Think Chelsea 14/15 second half of the season where they played utter shite football but went without a defeat. So I expect him to station two DMs ahead of Smalling and Bailly/Lindelof and try to grind out results. Doesn't bode well for this forum though, it's going to get even more toxic from here on when it comes to football.
 

Footyislife

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Stop telling your CBs that they aren't good enough & that you need to buy better players?

Stop rotating CBs every time you lose, so they can develop some consistency & a partnership

Play Smalling & Bailly together since they are our two best defenders. Bailly can adapt to LCB. Lindelof should be used as a backup after Jones, Rojo. He can't play CB in the EPL. Maybe a good option for a DM with his passing skills etc.

Use your tall players to mark their tall players. Why Lukaku is zonal making the near post instead of man marking the likes of Harry Kane I don't know. I get Smalling on Toby, but what about even sticking Pogba on Kane who's their second biggest aerial threat.

Don't play Pereira/Matic at DM. Matic is too slow and can't keep up with runners, Pereira has no idea what he's doing

Stupid decision by Mourinho to play Herrera at CB just cause he was mad at Bailly/Lindelof last game. Both Bailly and Lindelof are good on the ball & could have played the role without being a defensive liability

Press the opponents rather than sitting back in our own half and letting them find space with through balls/crosses
 

Kapardin

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CBs should be Smalling-Bailly. Jones and Smalling just don't work together.

That would help to plug up a few silly goals. But if we do concede despite that since the CBs are all inconsistent and flaky anyway, we need to outscore the opposition. For that, we can do one of two things:

1) Possession football where we have the ball and thus can protect the defense by starving the opposition of the ball. Obviously, this failed with LvG. Pep, the only other perhaps competent enough to implement it with this group of players, is not available for us. So forget it.

2) Pressing and off the ball movement. Retrieve the ball quickly by pressing, keep creating chances with quick one touch football, short forward passes and score to cover for any goals conceded. The reason why our attackers are so amateurish in the final third is because they have been playing reactive football for so long and haven't been coached quick football at all. Quick football heightens the sharpness of thinking and reflexes, and this in turn would familiarize them into reacting instantaneously and being clinical in front of goal, even taking half chances and converting them. The ability to finish clinically is deeply connected with quick thinking, and our players have become accustomed to football at walking pace, which is the problem.

With the defense we have, reactive and counter attacking football is out of the question. We need to hog possession, and we need to press the opposition to regain the ball, and work on attacking quickly and scoring. A manager who can implement this style is desirable.
 

#07

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I think they all just need a whole lot of love.
Love won't make them better than they are.

Last season Mourinho protected the defence by restricting our midfield. However, people complained that it was boring and it was killing Pogba.

So now, perhaps to prove a point, we're now playing a more open game. For three games running we've tried to play a more open game, two of them without a proper defensive midfielder and then last night by pressing high and going at Spurs.

If we were clinical that might be a way forward but we're missing open goals. :rolleyes:

If Jose goes back to being ultra defensive we'll probably win more but there will be more criticism that we're too defensive.

We've now had two managers, Van Gaal and Mourinho, who have come in, assessed our squad and decided that the only way forward is to play two holding midfielders and make sure the wingers can play disciplined to protect the full backs. Neither of these managers are idiots. Our defence is weak and without investment the only way to protect it is to play in a low block with two banks of four.

Pep Guardiola is one the best attacking coaches in the world but what did he do when he arrived at City and saw Hart, DeMichellis, Clichy, Sagna, Kolarov, Zabaleta etc? He binned them off. Then he binned off Bravo, then mid season after spending £50m on Stones he bought £60m Laporte to supplement Kompany and Otamendi. My point? Even the best coaches in the world cannot turn dirt into gold. They're not alchemists.

Without better defenders we cannot play expansive football. If we play expansive football we cannot protect that defence. The goals will continue to leak.
 

shaky

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We need our forwards to take the pressure off them by not missing sitters. If we took the lead yesterday, it could easily have been us winning 3-0. Instead we waste chances, 0-0 at half time, goal from a corner, then our CBs are hitting the panic button again.
 

ROFLUTION

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I think they all just need a whole lot of love.
Off to the VIP-lounge at Long Legs! :drool:

What I think we need is simply just a stable partner for Smalling who is quite good in my eyes. I think Matic and Valencia have all the qualities needed, but it'd skew things other places.

De Gea
Valencia/Young - Smalling - Matic - Shaw
Herrera - Fred - Pogba
Sanchez - Lukaku - Lingard/Martial​

Looks quite decent to me and we would be playing attacking football. Pogba and Fred can roam when needed.
 

ROFLUTION

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Without better defenders we cannot play expansive football. If we play expansive football we cannot protect that defence. The goals will continue to leak.
Good post and very much agree.

Ed Woodward not turning up at the market, has left Mourinho with political issues too. He sort of have to keep Pogba happy (playing him in a less defensive role than last year) and also Sanchez happy (playing him on the left instead of on the right, making Martial unhappy). Maybe he's even made promises to Matic that he wont be placed other places than defensive midfield.

I guess this is a good year to test Shaw and Dalot, now that things are going straight to hell anyways. Shaw is doing fine so far.
 

Bestietom

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We should have kept Fosu here. He could do a job for us much better than what we have atm.
 

Gopher Brown

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We’re all acting as if these players are non-league standard! These are good players who would get into most teams in the world, and certainly all bar Chelsea, City, Spurs and Liverpoolin the Prem. All 5 of them are regular internationals.

Like the rest of the team, they are playing with a real inferiority complex at the moment, and there is no consistency whatsoever in the selection. Jose needs to pick a partnership and stick with it until one of them gets injured, as painful as that might be in the short term.
 

Trizy

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We’re all acting as if these players are non-league standard! These are good players who would get into most teams in the world, and certainly all bar Chelsea, City, Spurs and Liverpoolin the Prem. All 5 of them are regular internationals.

Like the rest of the team, they are playing with a real inferiority complex at the moment, and there is no consistency whatsoever in the selection. Jose needs to pick a partnership and stick with it until one of them gets injured, as painful as that might be in the short term.
Been an international doesn't exactly mean you're automatically a class player. Look at the Irish team for example, they're ALL shit.
 

Camilo

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I think we're fine. Bailly and Lindelof was just Mourinho being Mourinho - trying to make a point by shooting himself in the foot. Smalling and Jones are our most experienced, most disciplined and most reliable defenders. They should play every game they're fit. Of course Jones continues to pick up injuries.. And they're always different injuries - never the same thing twice.. It's odd. But play him when he's fit. He might mess up, but he messes up trying to do the right thing, and he does it all with confidence. In the meantime, just pick one of Lindelof and Bailly. Play the poor guys. Give them some support and confidence.

We weren't so bad last night - we conceded pretty decent goals to a good side and we should've scored first half. We were good first half. It never rains but it pours as they say. We'll be fine.
 

Ekeke

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Smalling and Jones in a run of games if Jones is fit. If not give Bailly a game next Smalling and see how it goes
 

charlenefan

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We knew our defence was dodgy but it is strange how it's actually got worse with the same players, guess the difference is Dave not being in god mode/attackers being a lot more clinical
 

tomaldinho1

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We knew our defence was dodgy but it is strange how it's actually got worse with the same players, guess the difference is Dave not being in god mode/attackers being a lot more clinical
Exactly this, DDG normally makes 1-2 world class saves every few games and we kind of forget about it. Leicester should have drawn with us for example but for him.

Contrast that to Lloris last night, who faced 20+ shots. I don't think any of his saves could be described as anything other than routine.
 

TMDaines

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It's not the centre backs. It's the relationship between the midfield and the defence, and our transitions when we lose the ball. We look severely under coached and this is putting unnecessary pressure on the centre backs, which manifests in errors. Just look at the ease with which sides get at our back line compared to us with the opposition.

One the biggest problems in our squad though is that we have no real holding midfielder. We have players suited to a double pivot, but neither Matic, nor Fred, nor Herrera, nor Pogba, nor Fellaini is an anchor man or a deep-lying playmaker with the positioning required to make it difficult for the opposition to probe. None of them are effective at screening the defence.
 

Cassidy

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It's not the centre backs. It's the relationship between the midfield and the defence, and our transitions when we lose the ball. We look severely under coached and this is putting unnecessary pressure on the centre backs, which manifests in errors. Just look at the ease with which sides get at our back line compared to us with the opposition.

One the biggest problems in our squad though is that we have no real holding midfielder. We have players suited to a double pivot, but neither Matic, nor Fred, nor Herrera, nor Pogba, nor Fellaini is an anchor man or a deep-lying playmaker with the positioning required to make it difficult for the opposition to probe. None of them are effective at screening the defence.
Its very obvious, yes we could improve the quality at CB, however we have some fundamental issues in our setup that are causing issues.
Vs Brighton and Spurs our midfield hardly made any tackles or interceptions
 

rpitchfo

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I always go back to a quote by Rio Ferdinand. I once heard him say that fergie would expect his defenders to handle one on one situations with attackers. Because of the way we attacked the defenders would need to be able to defend by themselves without relying on cover.

Our current lot can’t. Not only that mourinho has them double up on players when defending (or triple up sometimes) and they still can’t keep them out.

5 at the back for me. Smalling Bailey and lindeloff
 

#07

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I always go back to a quote by Rio Ferdinand. I once heard him say that fergie would expect his defenders to handle one on one situations with attackers. Because of the way we attacked the defenders would need to be able to defend by themselves without relying on cover.

Our current lot can’t. Not only that mourinho has them double up on players when defending (or triple up sometimes) and they still can’t keep them out.

5 at the back for me. Smalling Bailey and lindeloff
This!

Its got to the point where I'm actually hoping Rojo will be fit soon. Wtf is that?! :lol:
 

Infra-red

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Need to sit deep and narrow and make sure that the side is compact from front to back. Do that, and we stand a chance of grinding out some results. The defenders are no where near good enough to play an open, expansive game - they'll be sliced open like a hot knife through butter without a wall of midfielders protecting them.
 

stevoc

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Smalling +1 not +2. Our collection of centrebacks aren't the greatest so not using a system that requires 3 of them at the expense of an attacker and exacerbating the problem would be a start. Play two of them and set Matic in front.

Not playing Ander Herrera or any other midfielders as centrebacks, an especially bizarre decision considering Lindelof and Bailly were both fit.

If we can at all avoid it don't play Phil Jones. Regardless of the formation, position or opposition.

Do those 3 things and we might start looking like a half decent defensive side again.
 

rooneyberbatov

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Stop telling your CBs that they aren't good enough & that you need to buy better players?

Stop rotating CBs every time you lose, so they can develop some consistency & a partnership
Spot on. It's evident our squad lacks confidence, especially our CBs. Let's take a look at Lindelof when he came on yesterday. Clueless and his confidence shattered from the very beginning. Decide on your best pair of CBs and play them regulary if possible. Give them a chance, because we had a pretty decent record last year. Yeah, we don't have world-class defenders but building up their confidence can do wonders.
 

11101

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Stop telling your CBs that they aren't good enough & that you need to buy better players?

Stop rotating CBs every time you lose, so they can develop some consistency & a partnership
Exactly this.

Instead of encouraging healthy competition for places, Mourinho has somehow created an environment where everyone is terrified of making the slightest mistake and being hung out to dry. I have never seen top level footballers make so many basic errors and be so reluctant to get on the ball.

What people forget about the likes of Rio and Vidic is that they did make mistakes occasionally, but they weren't crucified for it and the next game they went straight back to playing on the front foot. The positives of playing like that far outweighed the cost of the odd mistake. Under Mourinho a misplaced pass would be a tongue lashing in the press and on the bench for a month.
 

Leftback99

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We need to go back to basics until we find some consistency. I would go 442/4411 with two holding midfielders.

Settle on a back 4 of Shaw, Smalling +1 and Valencia.
Matic and Herrera in front (or even Fellaini).
Give Pogba a role on the left or the right, the less he's involved in our defending the better.
Lukaku supported by Sanchez up front, or Lingard with Sanchez/Martial on the left.

Playing 3 of our weak centre backs or playing midfielders there is just pointless.
 

Chelskiing

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the problem is you have poor centre backs, and the only midfield protection comes from a (very good) plodder in Matic. I'd get Conte in, play the 541 he played at Chelsea:

Valencia Bailly Smalling Jones Shaw

Herrera Matic
Sanchez Lukaku Lingard


Unfortunately this means playing Jones which is a bit of a nightmare and leaving out Pogba which will never happen, so err, good luck this year
 
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Everything we seem to try at centre back backfires. We have plenty of numbers but not enough quality in that position; that's the truth of the matter. We needed it addressed in the summer and ended up on a wild good chase for what seemed like every centre back in Europe. It was amateur hour and we are now paying the price.

Bailly looked superb when he signed; what's happened to him? Lindelof is clearly a good defender but looks devoid of all confidence at United. Smalling, Jones are Rojo are average EPL defenders, not players of elite level. We'll have to make do until January and try to survive, then go for someone like Alderweireld again. Scary times.
 

Kostur

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I'd say play consistent back four as much as possible (which is a fecking tough one given our injury record) and absolutely get rid of Jones, discard him, I don't care. Throw Matić in front of them et voila. It's all about consistency and a CDM for me.