Wednesday, August 10th, 2022

Ole explains two formations

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has said Manchester United’s style of play should be the same irrespective of their formation.

United are expected to switch to a back four at Watford after starting the last three games with a back three. Although United won with the formation at Tottenham, they abandoned it before half-time in the draw with Atalanta and Solskjaer reverted to a back four at half-time in the loss to City.

After the City game, Solskjaer said United ‘have to come out against Watford like a proper hurt animal and get back to what we know we can be’. The Norwegian said ‘the result and performance against Tottenham was good but it’s not what we want to look like, to put it that way’.

The back three formation always seemed unsustainable with the surfeit of forwards United have in their squad, particularly after the additions of Jadon Sancho and Cristiano Ronaldo in the summer.

“The system is one thing; style is so much more important,” Solskjaer stressed. “That is on the front foot, passing forward, running forward, pressing high or dropping low so that you block off the goal.

“You can have the same style of play with different systems or formations, it’s the execution on how you approach the game and how we set about that style of play.

“Sometimes Man United has been with wide wingers, we’ve had centre forwards up there that have been targets for crosses, sometimes you have targets into feet. The main thing about it is that it’s an attacking way of playing football that we give the players a chance to express their talents within the framework that we play in and that we set.

“If that’s 3-5-2, 3-5-3, 4-4-2, 4-2-3-1, it doesn’t really matter. It’s the detail and strategy we give for every game.

“But we have worked the last few years on two different ways of the way we have set up, with a back three in the last two games and the majority of games have been 4-2-3-1 that we’ve had.

“But we’ve had to make some minor adjustments in the last few weeks because [of] some players in form, out of form or injured or suspended.

“I always want to see a Man United team going on to the pitch trying to dominate and that’s what maybe led me to say what I did after the City game. I don’t want to see my team hanging in there waiting, we’d rather be on the front foot and if a team is better than us then sometimes you have to accept that.”

Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has provided the latest news on his squad as the Reds prepare to travel south to take on Watford in the Premier League on Saturday afternoon.

Paul Pogba was injured during the international break, while Marcus Rashford, Luke Shaw, Scott McTominay and Edinson Cavani were also unable to represent their respective countries as the World Cup qualifying campaign continued.

Raphael Varane was already sidelined as the club prepares for a key stage of the season with so many games on the schedule as we approach the end of the calendar year.

“I’ve got to say this week has been really positive,” the manager said at his press conference. “Of course, there are a couple of doubts with illnesses and small niggles.

“Paul is out still for a while, Raphael is out for a while still. Apart from that, players will be coming back, call it in the near future. Some this weekend and some during the week. But that’s the same for every team that misses players.”

In a separate interview with MUTV’s Stewart Gardner at Carrington, Ole suggested Shaw, McTominay and Rashford have been training, while Cavani must be rated doubtful after his fitness concerns. Shaw, of course, suffered a head injury during the Manchester derby and has been following concussion protocols in order to ensure a full recovery.

Solskjaer appreciates he will have to utilise his squad and it will be interesting to see if he sticks with the three-man central defence he has used of late.


Francisco Sierralta is absent due to injury while Juraj Kucka serves a one-match suspension, following his red card against Arsenal last time out.

Ozan Tufan faces a fitness test, with Imran Louza an option to step in, if required. Ex-United man Ben Foster has been keeping goal for the Hornets of late, making his 500th appearance in club football when they were narrowly defeated by the Gunners.

“I’m very happy with these 10 days [of training],” said Watford boss Claudio Ranieri. “Everyone has come back and only Sierralta is out.”

Players still sidelined include Peter Etebo, Christian Kabasele, Ken Sema and Kwadwo Baah.

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