Solskjaer reportedly planning to change United's formation next season

A report by ESPN claims that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is planning to move away from his preferred 4-2-3-1 system for the coming season.

They claim Solskjaer is preparing to flip the balance of his midfield to go into 2021/22 with a 4-3-3 formation.

That would see the double defensive midfield pivot of Scott McTominay and Fred broken up in favour of a solo holding player.

Donny van de Beek or Paul Pogba could play in a creative midfield role alongside Bruno Fernandes with just one man behind them.

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RONALDO NEEDS TO STOP WHINING.

If the report is true, it’ll please some fans who view the ‘McFred’ pairing as too cautious for a club of United’s history and ambition.

It’d get more of United’s creative players onto the pitch, in theory creating more chances and easing the burden on Fernandes.

It would also benefit van de Beek and Pogba hugely, both of whom having struggled to nail down a regular role in Solskjaer’s side last season.

The question for Solskjaer is how the switch will impact on the balance of his team. There’s obviously a reason he’s been using two defensive midfielders.

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New defender is key

The report says that a new central defender is key to the switch.

That’s because if United’s backline is stronger, it needs less protection from midfield. It can also defend higher up the pitch and let United get on the front foot.

There has been a report claiming Raphael Varane could be through the door by the end of next week.

That feels optimistic but partnering the Frenchman with Harry Maguire should make Solskjaer feel more confident about protecting his defence with just one anchorman.

And if it unlocks the quality of Pogba and van de Beek on a more regular basis, the shift will be worth it, taking United from a cautious side to one with multiple creative outlets in midfield, which should lead to more chances and goals.

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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.