Manchester United are looking for new solutions after conceding nine goals in the last two Premier League matches.
The team looks disjointed with individual defensive errors and the midfield over exposed by an all-out attacking style.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s 4-2-3-1 formation has veered into a 4-2-4 with disastrous consequences, nearly costing the manager his job.
It is time for a total rethink and while this could mean reverting to a 3-5-2 formation as we speculated last week, the answer could end up being a diamond formation.
Solskjaer briefly experimented with this last season, notably in the 5-0 victory over RB Leipzig at Old Trafford.
Here is a look at one possible way United’s midfield and attack could look if Solskjaer went with the diamond 4-4-2.
What are the benefits?
The benefits of a diamond formation is the extra man it gives Manchester United in midfield.
United’s midfield two have been over exposed in recent matches, no matter the combination, and left with too much ground to cover.
This is down to Bruno Fernandes’ attacking tendency, and United can still release the Portuguese star to get forward, with the backing of an extra man behind him in midfield.
The formation also gives United’s midfielders more defined roles.
Nemanja Matic can play as a defensive midfielder rather than being asked to cover too much ground. He can also act as an effective shield for a confidence shy and mistake prone defence.
It also becomes easier to mix in Donny van de Beek as well as Fred, with out of form Scott McTominay the odd man out.
Paul Pogba is also likely to find the diamond formation an easier fit upon his return from suspension.
The formation should help United’s control of the midfield and possession, something the club have struggled with. From there it becomes easier to build attacks.
United can also play with two strikers, which will enable the team to maximise the talents of Cristiano Ronaldo and Edinson Cavani, two of the very best in the world over the past decade.
Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial, and Mason Greenwood would also compete for these positions.
What are the drawbacks?
One of the issues a 4-4-2 diamond formation creates is the pressure it puts on the full-backs.
Alex Telles would be well suited to this. It could cause problems for Luke Shaw, who needs to focus on the defensive side of his game right now.
On the right, Aaron Wan-Bissaka has not kicked on, and United may struggle to build attacks from his side. Diogo Dalot is an option, but not the best defensively.
Arguably the biggest drawback to this formation is a lack of an obvious place for Jadon Sancho.
Sancho could be given a free role, in Fernandes’ place, or picked as one of the wide midfield players, but neither are ideal.
Another option is to utilise him as a wide forward as one of the two front players.
This formation may work as a temporary solution to get United back on track, but it is not necessarily conducive to getting the best out of the £73 million summer signing.
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