Formation Analysis: Has Solskjaer Found A Diamond?

United’s domestic struggles have resulted in boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer experimenting with various formations, predominately in the UEFA Champions League. The Norwegian manager has reverted back to a narrow 4-4-2. This diamond formation brought the Red Devils great success against the “top six” sides at the beginning of Solskjaer’s reign over Unted. It seems inevitable that the United boss will attempt to resurrect United’s poor league form with a diamond in midfield.

Is A Diamond Effective Against A Low Block?

Manchester United lie 15th in the Premiere League, in which they have already suffered three home defeats. A recurring issue the Red Devils face is their inability to break down a low block. The diamond formation has offered Solskjaer an alternative to his usual 4-2-3-1 formation. Now, he can fit in more of his talented playmakers that he has at his disposal. Typically, when United face a low block they look hopeless in possession and starved of creativity. The United forwards look isolated and from that point onwards United face an upwards struggle in securing a positive result. However, the diamond formation accommodates more central midfielders, which would allow Solskjaer to perhaps utilize world-cup winner Paul Pogba and the Portuguese-maestro Bruno Fernandes together.

Is A Diamond A Solution To United Midfield Moshpit

Previously, Solskjaer has deployed both of them together, but with Paul Pogba in a deeper role. However, the Frenchman isn’t suited in this role due to his lack of defensive discipline. Despite this, the diamond formation allows Pogba to have fewer defensive duties. Moreover, he would be able to play on the left-hand side of midfield, where he flourished at Juventus. The formation would provide United with natural width through their fullbacks. Futhermore, they would have greater control in midfield through the combination of Pogba and Fernandes and two forwards opposed to one in the 4-2-3-1. This would make it easier for United when facing sides that like to sit deep. As,United would have more players on the pitch capable of finding the forwards with a defence-splitting pass. Moreover, this change in formation may also allow new signing Donny van de Beek to have greater involvement.

The Leipzig Match:

This season United have failed to win a single home game. There was little belief that United would end their struggles against RB Leipzig. The Red Devils lined up in the diamond formation with a midfield four of Matic, Fred, Pogba and van de Beek. Much to the surprise of United fans, the Red Devils flourished with this new-look midfield. They dealt with the intense-press of RB Leipzig and responded with several counter-attacks. Notably, Paul Pogba and donny van de Beek saw a lot of the ball and combined effectively to link the attack and midfield together. Throughout the duration of the match, United had suffice defensive in midfield through the hard-working partnership of Fred and Matic, but also had control and flair in Pogba and van de Beek.

The Arsenal Match:

Due to United’s continental success in midweek, Solskjaer deployed the diamond against Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal. Immediately, it became evident that the diamond shape was not working as effectively against Arsenal’s five at the back formation. United rarely left their half, in which their fullbacks were left pinned back by Arsenal’s wing-backs who pushed high up. In addition, Scott Mctominay’s poor positioning on the right-hand side of the diamond resulted in the creators Paul Pogba and Bruno Fernandes being starved of possession. Both were forced to drop deeper and collect possession. After 45 minutes of persisting with the diamond, Solskjaer reverted back to his favoured 4-2-3-1 formation; after this formation change United made some improvements. Although the contest was lost due to a poor challenge from Paul Pogba, which gave away a penalty, the failures of the diamond formation in the first half was of greater cost.

Solution For Solskjaer Or Another Dilemma?

It remains to be seen if the United boss will start the diamond shape again after such a hopeless performance against Arsenal. The miserable performance in the diamond against Arsenal contrasted significantly from the midweek match. The Red Devils have shown already this season that they are a very inconsistent side and whether this is due to continental hangover, Solskjaer will aim to find a formation that his side can settle down with and find some consistency. Although the diamond shape may help United with their endeavours against sides that sit deep, the United boss will need to find an alternative shape that provides a solution to sides that play five at the back or risk his side being completely nullified once again.

Author: Rajan Sangha

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