Solskjaer responds when asked if United will play three at the back vs Villarreal

Manchester United’s next match is against Villarreal, who will arrive at Old Trafford on the back of a creditable 0-0 draw against Real Madrid.

For that match, Unai Emery switched to a five-man defensive system.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has defensive injuries, with Harry Maguire definitely ruled out and Luke Shaw remaining a doubt.

And he was asked at his pre-match press conference, streamed at 1.30pm on the club’s official app whether he’d consider a change of formation to match Villarreal up.

Matthew Peters/Manchester United via Getty Images


“You always look at the opposition. Sometimes you have to make adjustments because of them – bigger adjustments,” said Solskjaer. “Sometimes just tweaks.

“For us, we always look at ourselves mostly – probably 80/20. Making sure we play better. But of course the more injuries you get in defence, you may need to make tactical changes in terms of formation.

“That can happen. I’ve got Eric [Bailly], Raphael [Varane] and Victor [Lindelof]. Three very good centre-backs I can choose from.

“Diogo Dalot and Alex Telles are 100 per cent fit and hopefully Luke can be involved, we’re not sure yet.”

Matthew Peters/Manchester United via Getty Images

We made the case yesterday for switching to 3-5-2 and unleashing Edinson Cavani and Cristiano Ronaldo through the middle together.

That would also allow Dalot and Telles to bomb on without so much fear of getting caught out.

It would be a bold move by Solskjaer to go with three at the back, especially given the last time he used it, United were knocked out of the Champions League by RB Leipzig.

The way United were caught cold that night shows it’s not just as easy as switching formations and making it a numbers game.

It would be a surprise if Solskjaer moved away from the four-man backline, but it can’t be ruled out on a night where the result is all-important.

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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.