With just over couple of months have gone in the season, Manchester United have already put in more formation then they have used over the entire last campaign. Has the change in formations really changed the teams fortune this season? Considering the fact that the Red’s have won only four games from 12 matches in all competitions this campaign, the answer is a simple ‘No’.
One of the main reason behind David Moyes losing his job was the predictability in his team lineup and the philosophy in which the team played. Under him, the team normally played in a standard 4-2-3-1 formation. Even when Mata was signed in January, the British manager did not change the formation to fit him, instead he tried to fit the tricky Spaniard in an already existing system, which clearly did not work for the team.
His successor Louis Van Gaal has taken the exact opposite step and has already used four different formations. He started his reign with the infamous 3-5-2 formation, which helped the Dutch team secure the third place in the summer World Cup. Then he changed to 4-2-2-2 (Diamond) formation, from which he switched to the normal 4-2-3-1 formation and finally played a 4-1-4-1 formation against Crystal Palace last Saturday.
To his credit Van Gaal unlike his predecessor did not stick with the same system and he his trying to do his best to change the fortunes of the team. Unfortunately for him the changes are not working to full extent. Some good moments was evident from United’s play this season, however the team struggled to play with the same intensity for an entire game.
The Dutch manager has placed the finger on himself for accepting that he has changed a lot too soon, however he added that he was left with no other alternative. When he started his reign by playing three at the back, not many were convinced about the system and it was proved right. United struggled both in defence and attack under the formation. During that period, United did not win a single match. Hence the manager changed the three centre backs at the back to a usual two.
Whenever the team played in the diamond formation, good attacking football was evident like the first hour of games against Queens Park Rangers, Leicester City, West Ham and Everton. But the defending was not good and as a result the team was leaking in goals from the back. So the team switched to the traditional style of playing with wingers, during which the defence got sorted out, however in attack the team has failed to score much. In that period, United managed to score only four goals in last the four games.
Hence it is pretty clear that Van Gaal is struggling to find the right balance of system which suits both the attack and defence. However, if he needs consistency from the team, it is about time for Van Gaal to stick with a suitable formation. Despite his struggles this season, Van Gaal’s impressive CV will ensure that he will be given more time on the job which Moyes hardly got. Having said that if he does not change the fortunes anytime soon, the fans will not back the manager far too long.
Courtesy of image from reddevilarmada.com