Ralf Rangnick explains why Manchester United changed to 4-3-3 formation
Manchester United will play in a 4-3-3 configuration for the rest of the season, according to Ralf Rangnick, now that Paul Pogba has returned from injury.
United converted to a 4-2-2-2 system when Rangnick took control in early December, but it was abandoned after a 1-0 loss to Wolves in early January. United resorted to a more traditional 4-2-3-1 for the FA Cup match against Aston Villa, before switching to a 4-3-3 for the Premier League match against Villa Park five days later.
United has started in a 4-3-3 formation in their last five games and has yet to lose a game in normal time, despite their domination being limited to one half.
Because Fred is still isolating with Covid-19 and Nemanja Matic has a shin problem, Pogba, Scott McTominay, and Bruno Fernandes are almost certain to start together for the third match in a row against Southampton on Saturday.
Rangnick was asked if he regretted not switching to a 4-3-3 formation sooner “No, since it was something we needed to know. Although Paul Pogba has only been available for two weeks, Fred can also play at number eight.
“To begin, it seemed reasonable to keep to the formation that they were familiar with and that the team had previously utilized. As you may recall, in the first two games against Crystal Palace and Norwich, we played in a 4-2-2-2 formation, similar to Southampton’s, but once we realized that playing in an eight position would better suit the skills of all of our players – Bruno, Fred, and Paul Pogba – we did so.
“I believe this is the best shape for us, with the majority of the players, if not all, playing in their best position.”
Rangnick believes United lost their formation after Burnley equalized on Tuesday night, and that Pogba and Fernandes wandered to the flanks when they were needed in the center.
“At times, Paul was unexpectedly grabbing the ball between our centre-backs,” Rangnick stated. “The same was true with Scotty, who was suddenly trying to receive the ball in the wing position, and we demonstrated to the team that there was almost no player in the center of the pitch during those 15 minutes.
“This is exactly what we did extremely well in the first half; we had very close distance between each other, we always had our triangles, we were always able to play in this web, do some small rotations, and combine between ourselves; however, this was not the case in those 15 minutes (after half-time) because we did not stick to our positions, and this is exactly what we discussed with the players yesterday.
“Even if something unexpected happens during the game, it is not what we should do.”