Solskjaer successfully brings back 3-5-2 system after Leipzig horror night
It wasn’t far off 12 months since Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer last decided to use the 3-5-2 formation and the Norwegian will have been delighted that the change paid off against Tottenham.
Spurs proved to be the perfect opponents for United following the mauling against Liverpool.
The 3-0 win at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium proved to be the last for Nuno Espirito Santo as Spurs boss, as his toothless side didn’t show the same desire to fight for their manager in the same way United’s players did for Ole.
But with so much on the line for Solskjaer and the margins for error so fine, the brave and bold decision to change the system was vindicated.
Totally different to last December
United went into last season’s last Champions League group stage game against RB Leipzig off the back of four straight Premier League wins.
But in a winner takes all game, which was overshadowed in the build up by Mino Raiola’s perfectly-timed comments surrounding the uncertainty of Paul Pogba, Solskjaer decided to go with three at the back.
After the formation proved successful in winning away to Paris Saint Germain earlier in the campaign, Solskjaer hoped the formation would enable United to qualify for the last 16.
United’s back three against Leipzig was Victor Lindelof, Harry Maguire and Luke Shaw.
However, we were 2-0 down at the Red Bull Arena after only 13 minutes and by half-time, Solskjaer had abandoned the formation, the game plan had gone out the window.
We did fight back from 3-0 down after 70 minutes to make it a nervy 10 minutes for the hosts after clawing it back to 3-2, but that was as good as it got and we had to settle for Europa League football in the new year, for the second straight campaign.
Unlike last season and in Germany in particular, Solskjaer now has the luxury of calling on a World Cup winner in Raphael Varane to be the linchpin in United’s defence.
With 11 goals conceded in three games during the four-time Champions League winner’s absence, his return to fitness ahead of the Tottenham game would have been a godsend for Solskjaer.
Having Varane in our ranks now means we are far less likely to suffer a defensive collapse whilst he is marshalling our backline.
In the games the Frenchman has played in, we haven’t conceded more than two goals, which is a stark contrast to when the 28-year-old has been out injured.
With big games against Atalanta and Manchester City upon us, Solskjaer could well retain the 3-5-2 formation to ensure his team sticks with an experienced and strong spine.
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