Manchester United manager ten Hag could tinker with formations
Manchester United are looking to rebuild and reorganize under the tutelage of Erik ten Hag in the upcoming season. They have failed to win the Premier League title since 2013 and finished only sixth last season, with fifth-placed Arsenal finishing 11 points ahead of them. Their lowly finish also means they will not play Champions League football next season.
United made some vital signings like Cristiano Ronaldo, Jadon Sancho and Raphael Varane before last season and have added Christian Eriksen to their squad. It now remains to be seen whether the United players can do justice to their names this season.
On that note, we would take a look at three different formations Manchester United can potentially use in the upcoming season:
A 4-2-3-1 has been Manchester United’s customary formation the last few seasons and they have employed it in the preseason matches. Adopting this formation would mean Fred and Scott McTominay would line up in the double pivot in midfield. It would also mean Bruno Fernandes would play as the No. 10 or the central attacking midfielder and any two from among Sancho, Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and Anthony Elanga would play on the wings.
Cristiano Ronaldo, the 37-year-old Portuguese superstar, would fill the lone striker in this formation, provided he stays with the club. Playing in this formation allows Manchester United to have solidity at the back and launch counter-attacks at regular intervals.
Fred and McTominay have the ability to venture forward, with Fred capable of scoring with shots from the edge of the penalty box and McTominay filling a box-to-box role at times.
This formation allows Fernandes the freedom to fall back to create and move to the flanks to play crosses into the penalty box. We can safely assume Manchester United are going to start the season with this formation.
With Eriksen’s signing, Ten Hag might switch to the 4-3-3 formation, with either Fred or McTominay playing as defensive midfielder and Eriksen playing alongside Fernandes as the two central midfielders. The attacking unit would remain unchanged with the players already mentioned above forming the front three.
Playing with this formation would add to the creativity in United’s midfield. Eriksen has the ability to play probing passes and Fernandes’ mobility would complement the Dane’s creative skills in a nice way. However, it would also mean that each of them would have to take more defensive responsibilities.
On the flip side, it would weaken United’s defense to some extent and they might not use it against mighty teams like Manchester City or Liverpool. However, they can definitely use this formation against lesser opposition. It would allow the young United wingers to display their full potential by taking the attack to the opposition.
Manchester United can also think of playing with a 3-5-2 as it promises to support their counter-attacking style. United have several solid centre-backs like Varane, Harry Maguire, Victor Lindelof and Eric Bailly and can choose to play any three of them.
It would also mean the Manchester United full-backs like Diogo Dalot, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Luke Shaw and Alex Telles would play as wing-backs and have more attacking freedom. Dalot and Telles are known for their crossing abilities and Shaw has the ability to cut inside from the left flank. Wan-Bissaka, however, would have to improve his attacking skills should United decide to include him in this formation.
Playing in this formation requires United play with a pair of strikers, meaning the likes of Sancho, Rashford, Martial and Elanga would be fighting to play alongside Ronaldo.
However, if Ronaldo decides to leave, then any of the combinations like Rashford-Martial or Sancho-Rashford can be used upfront while playing with a 3-5-2. It would require the Manchester United wingers to have the ability to play well in tight areas and also improve their finishing skills.