Rangnick explains tweak to Fernandes' position in United's 4-3-3

Ralf Rangnick lined Manchester United up in a 4-3-3 formation for last night’s clash with Brentford.

Scott McTominay was the solo anchorman, with Fred and Bruno Fernandes either side of him.

That represents a new role for the Portuguese international, who has played as a number ten for much of his United career, and was in the wider areas in Rangnick’s initial 4-2-2-2.

At his post-match press conference, Rangnick said that new number eight role is ‘almost perfect’ for Fernandes, after a game where he laid on two assists and should have scored himself when he went through on goal right at the death.

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When asked if he prefers Fernandes as a number eight or ten, Rangnick said: “Most of the top teams in Europe and England play in a 4-3-3.

“I think for (Bruno), it is better than being pinned to a ten position. He can then make himself available in different areas of the pitch, not only the centre.

“For me, he’s not a wing player but in this position as an eight, he can find the spaces himself and sniff in which areas we have to play the ball to him and he can make himself available.

“Therefore, I think this position as an eight is almost perfect for him.”

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Rangnick’s rapid shift to a 4-3-3 is an interesting one, given it took Ole Gunnar Solskjaer far longer to feel confident ditching the 4-2-3-1 with the security of two holding midfielders.

It did not work for the first 45 minutes last night, but that was more down to the lack of application and physicality among the players.

After half-time, it worked better, with Fernandes taking more of a grip of the game, with McTominay thundering into challenges behind him.

The shift in role means Bruno may not be at the very centre of every single attacking move, but it does add more balance to the midfield, and Rangnick is clearly happy with the change.

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Sam Preston is an NCTJ gold standard news and sports journalist who studied with the Press Association. He also has a 2:1 law with French law degree from the University of Birmingham, which included a year studying at Bordeaux Montaigne University. He is an FA Level 1 football coach who appeared on the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire show in 2018 and has also written digital football content and match-day programme pieces for Colchester United, Mansfield Town and Stockport County.