Sturdy defense and tactics way to go for United at Anfield

Manchester United face North-Western rivals Liverpool away to Anfield as Van Gaal’s men look for some stability in their play and explicitly defense.


Manchester United have been a source of colossal criticism with their ‘boring’ possession play and not converting them into decent goal-scoring moments, on the other side, in trying to play free-flowing football, they tend to keep their back-doors open.

Let’s glance through some of their movements and how little change of system to alter play causes imbalance :-


First, we’ll see how United shape up when they are defending; both fullbacks become narrow and get close to their center-backs, wide players track back and take fullback positions to stop the crosses. The two holding midfielders track back narrowly and look to stop the runs of advancing opposition midfielders. The no 10 remains just about in the center of the field to start the counter whenever possible with target-man striker there in one of those wide positions.

Few problems commending with this system are:-

1.) The narrow movement of the fullbacks, wide players coming back and stopping crosses doesn’t help the cause, most of the time 1 v 1 situation is created which more or less concedes the cross.

2.) ‘Ball-watch’ defending by the fullbacks at the edge of their area, especially Darmian and Young. Whenever overlapping runs are being ventured out by opposition fullbacks, these two see the movement of the ball and not the player which easily enables the advancing fullback to get in behind.

3.) The two holding midfielders have the role to stop the runs of onrushing midfield players into the box, but United’s midfielders have more or less failed to do when Van Gaal opts for a defensive midfielder and an advanced play-maker in that position. When two defensive midfielders are there, they more or less do their jobs generally.

Next we’ll see what are United’s positions and movements when they are in possession :-


Fullbacks more forward in advance roles, wide players look to cut inside and allow fullbacks to overlap and get in behind the opposition. Number 10 Herrera/Mata/Rooney look for in-behind run to be a headache for opposition center-backs. The problem was under-supply of good crosses and dearth of players in the box. They had possession but too much passing and then when the chance for cross came, the end result is an upsetting one. The main distinctive problem was going for perfection each time they had the ball, when teams sit back, they struggle to find any space and lack of shoot on sight policy doesn’t help the cause too.

When Van Gaal goes for Fellaini in one of those holding midfield, it more or less becomes a situation where Fellaini fails to track back and opposition midfielders have a easy run in the box. Maybe at Anfield, the Dutchman will go for extra covering and not Fellaini in that deeper role.

We can discuss the system of Van Gaal in a long gist of points, but to summarize it we can say that sturdiness in play is lacking each time United feature in a match and solution has to be endeavored by the Dutchman very quickly as his time at Old Trafford doesn’t seem too long lasting to be honest. Ed Woodward will be having a close look at his team and manager when they play at Anfield this Sunday.

All in all, one should say that United have to play out of their skins to seize anything out of this very important high-advertised game. With no disrespect to the club, it should be said that United will be happy even if they get a point out of this trip and for me go in as underdogs for this game against their deadly rivals Liverpool.

By Mizgan Ahmed on 16th January, 2016






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