Rangnick says United have decided to move from 4-2-2-2 to 4-3-3

Ralf Rangnick has said that he has decided to change Manchester United’s formation to 4-3-3.

The German opted for a 4-2-2-2 for most of his early matches, although he has actually used six formations during his reign already.

Speaking ahead of the game against Brentford, Rangnick said as per the Mirror, that he has decided to go for a 4-3-3.

He says that is what United used at Villa Park, with Nemanja Matic anchoring midfield, with Fred and Bruno Fernandes pushing up either side of him.

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“We have now decided to play a 4-3-3 like we did against Aston Villa, with one holding six, two eights and three offensive players,” Rangnick said.

“It’s clear in a 4-3-3 that [Jadon Sancho] is a player for either of the wing positions, either left or right, he can play both.

“I think he would prefer a little bit the left side, because then he can switch inside and shoot on goal with his strong right foot.

“But for me there’s no questions about his position.”

As well as having a clearer position for Sancho, who did not do especially well in the 4-2-2-2, the system also suits Bruno Fernandes.

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He may not be playing as a number ten like he was in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s 4-2-3-1, but he is more central and therefore more involved in everything.

Fred can also push on more in that system, although with Scott McTominay coming back into contention after suspension, he could also take up that box-to-box role at Brentford.

Solskjaer tried to play a 4-3-3 in the early part of the season but United were pulled apart, most notably at Wolves in August, where a 1-0 smash-and-grab win was earned by Mason Greenwood and David de Gea’s heroics.

The system worked for 70 minutes at Villa Park, before United crumbled as Villa raised the tempo. Perhaps that was down to the limitations of the system, or a more general problem of form, resilience or confidence.

Brentford play a 3-5-2 system, which will provide a different challenge to Villa, not least in terms of who tracks their wing-backs when they bomb on.

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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.