How could United lineup under Mourinho

Jose Mourinho’s arrival at Old Trafford was one which excites each and every United fan, the arrival was sumptuous, now with exactly a month to go for the league, the work needs to start in training and tactics. In this article we’ll take a look at how United could lineup come the start of the season.

By now United have signed three new players, all of them are of significant importance to Mourinho. Ibrahimovic will add attacking options and his experience will help likes of Martial, Rashford to grow as a striker. Mkhitaryan will add attacking creativity and goal-scoring prowess to go with it, the Armenian can play as number 10 or on the right hand side of the attack, another player which will add certain amount of guile and expertness in the final third.

4-2-3-1 and 4-3-3 are the two primary formations when we talk about Mourinho’s era.

Let’s take a look at both the formations through the tactics board and analyse further details :-

4-2-3-1 :


As we see in the image above, the preferred 4-2-3-1 of Mourinho, this is supposed to be plan A for the Portuguese at Old Trafford too. Centre-back pairing of Smalling and Bailly seems selected by itself, Van Gaal always opted for Blind in that centre-back role but Mourinho will certainly use the Dutchman further up in midfield.

Fosu-Mensah impressed many in his debut season under Van Gaal in that right back position, with no real alternative through transfer market and Darmian struggling in positional play, Mourinho may well opt for Ghanaian borned for most games or improve the Italian Darmian for further playing. Luke Shaw had a terrible last season due to injury and surgery, he is though expected to be back in the starting eleven and make his mark. The former Saints man has pace and is a tactically astute defender, will be perfect fit for Mourinho’s team.

The two holding midfielders are there, out of which one will sit back in front of the centre-backs protecting them, Carrick is likely to take role for United atleast for the coming season. The other will be like roaming play-maker who will support in attacking play and will link up the play from defence to attack, his defensive job should not be neglected too.

Mourinho said in a press conference that Rooney is not a midfield player, so it is widely expected that the captain will play in that number 10 role for the club. He will be partnered by Martial/Depay and Mkhitaryan from wide areas.

The functioning of this formation will be high fullbacks and mainly reactive play which is adopted by Mourinho. The two fullbacks will go high when the team is in possession, this will allow likes of Martial and Mkhitaryan to drift inside or play the gap between centre-back and fullback. The deepest midfielder will sit in between the centre-backs to not allow in midfield runs from opposition, the number 10 Rooney will be floating in and around the opposition box trying to link up with the striker or create goal-scoring chances. While defending, the two midfielders will sit in front of their centre-backs, wide players will track back to help out the fullbacks.

4-3-3 :


The 4-3-3 under Mourinho is considered as plan B, this is deployed in tough away games where cutting out midfield supply and defending centrally is key.

The functioning of the midfield in this is a bit different here from that of 4-2-3-1, one midfielder will sit deep in front of the centre-backs as usual, the other two will squeeze the play centrally not allowing the supply from the opposition. It is mainly deployed in games where opposition depend heavily on attacking the central lines and depend less on fullbacks and wide players.

So these are the expected lineups we can expect from Mourinho to deploy in the coming season. These two have been his principle formations and he doesn’t change much, he may change personnel but rarely changes shape of the team in between the game or in regular basis throughout the season, very much unlike of United’s previous manager though. This stability should be a source of good optimism for United fans.

By Mizgan on 14th July, 2016

Twitter – @mizgans



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