In the game against Queens Park Rangers, Louis van Gaal’s side lined up in a four defensive back formation, something that a lot of van Gaal’s critics have said they should have done in the first place. Given the fact that United looked a lot more comfortable with four players in front of goal and effectively shut down QPR’s attack does LvG stick with that formation?
For United to only play with three defensive backs on the pitch there needs to be great communication between the players and the wingers need to be athletic enough to drop back and help when the opposition has the ball. Right now I don’t think United have the right personnel to execute this system the way it needs to be played in order to have success. I submit all the matches before last week’s as evidence, allowing 7 goals in four all competition matches. No matter who was played the back line did not communicate well, turned the ball over too much and did not play with any sort of confidence. The signing of Marcos Rojo will help, but I don’t think the young Argentinian alone will allow the team to return to a three back formation.
I understand that van Gaal wants to advance the wingers up the field and play a more attacking style. That is all well and good, but when the wing backs struggle to run up and down the pitch and transition back on defence it leaves holes exposed. Taking a look at the squad list there is no shortage of goal scoring talent. With the three headed monster of Wayne Rooney, Robin van Persie and Radamel Falcao as well as midfielders who create chances in Angel Di Maria and Juan Mata, it is clear Manchester United are more than capable of getting goals. Even with dropping Daley Blind back the defence needs to be strengthened and switching to a four defensive back formation would help with that.
Do I think that van Gaal will do this? He could. I think one thing we know about van Gaal is that he is not afraid to switch things up as far as formations on the pitch is concerned. In the first match against Swansea he abandoned the three man backfield in favour of a four man defensive line. In the World Cup he frequently changed up his formations based on the team his Netherlands side would be going up against. I believe that a four man backfield will favor United and give the squad a little more structure. It’ll be interesting to see what formation they use against Leicester City who currently sit in 12th place with the same record as United at 1-2-1 but with a goal differential of -1 compared to the +3 of the Red Devils. Hopefully we will see a flurry of goals just like last weekend to ride the high of last weekends match.