Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer may soon have a luxury of options in midfield. Could we see a return to the diamond formation?
During his time as Manchester United manager, Solskjaer has insisted on playing with a midfield three.
Now with up to five top quality midfield options when everybody is fit, it is far easier to cut five to four, and the team will be better off for it too.
Scott McTominay and Paul Pogba are both potential returnees this month [PremierInjuries.com] to add to Nemanja Matic, Fred, and now Bruno Fernandes.
Fernandes is a must pick already in an attacking midfield role. Nobody else comes close.
Then it becomes difficult to pick two of four out of the rest. So why not just select three of them?
Paul Pogba and Fred are all action midfielders, capable of playing box to box roles.
With Fernandes operating as a link player between midfield and the forwards, this formation can flourish, with a defensive player mopping up behind them.
Nemanja Matic is more disciplined and has been excellent lately, but Scott McTominay’s early season performances will demand he gets opportunities too. He could also play in the Pogba or Fred role if one is unfit or rested.
How it impacts the rest of the team
A diamond in midfield would give United an opportunity to play two strikers, in a more traditional 4-4-2.
This would help Anthony Martial out, allowing him a chance to partner Mason Greenwood or Odion Ighalo up front.
This would mean a rest for Dan James, who could be used as an impact player, while Andreas Pereira, Juan Mata and Jesse Lingard are nowhere to be seen.
A lot of onus would be placed on the full-backs to attack, but they will find it easier to enjoy success with crosses if they find two strikers in the box, plus possibly Pogba as runner from midfield.
One of the drawbacks of a diamond is the lack of width it provides, but United do not currently have top class wingers.
For the time being, this may be the best formation to suit United’s personnel, and it will make selection decisions a lot easier.
This is how United’s strongest XI could look by the end of the month if everybody is fit. Swap Rashford in for Ighalo when he eventually returns.
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