Football

Manchester United must adopt a diamond formation going forward

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Louis van Gaal himself has said that he is still looking for the best system to play, stating he is yet to find the correct balance at Manchester United.

Presumably he is referring to a balance between defence and attack which clearly the current 3-5-2 does not provide with the Red Devils only managing eight goals in six games.

According to whoscored.com the diamond formation employed earlier has produced the most goals and arguably the most attractive football all season. And a few key areas make the diamond a superior formation the 3-5-2.

Familiar Formation

Generally four at the back is the norm in English football and Manchester United are no different. The use of a largely unfamiliar and unproven formation in the Premier League has led to more than a few defensive lapses in the United back line. The defence has often looked awkward and at times out of depth while employing three centre halves.

A more traditional defence will not only give the defenders more confidence, but also reduce the number of errors at the back by giving the back line duties they have become accustomed to over the years. Four at the back may mean United will be a man down in the midfield, but the stability provided by a traditional defence is worth the sacrifice.

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Di Maria Central

As per Squawka stats the Argentinian international has the most assists, chances created and key passes for the club during the current season. He is undoubtedly their chief creative force and should be employed centrally behind the strikers to effectively utilise his playmaking ability.

His appearances out wide have been less than desirable with his role as a winger or wide midfielder reducing his ability to affect the game through the centre and provide support for the front-men. The number 7's performances will be of pivotal importance to the eventual success or failure of Manchester United in 2015.

Direct Football

The match against Queens Park Rangers in September 2014 highlighted the benefits of playing centrally and more importantly focusing play on getting the ball in the penalty area.

Throughout this season the Red Devils have been guilty of playing laterally and spreading the play wide with little to no joy. It is high time United realise they are no longer blessed with wide talents such as Giggs, Ronaldo and Beckham.

United's strengths now lie in technically proficient central players who can exploit the middle by shooting from range and playing killer through balls to pick out the runs of Robin van Persie and Radamel Falcao.

Adopting a direct approach and consistently getting the ball in the box will create more scoring chances for United and ultimately get them back to scoring goals, something they have struggled to accomplish at times this season.

Ideal Line up

Fortunes may be turning for van Gaal as many of the long term injury cases are due to return shortly with names like Luke Shaw, Marcos Rojo, Marouane Fellaini and Rafael coming back.

In goal, David de Gea currently selects himself with Victor Valdes being clearly told the young Spaniard is the first choice stopper.

In defence it is more than probable once fit we will see the back line envisaged in the summer with Rafael, Evans/Jones, Rojo and Shaw making up the defensive contingent. Chris Smalling may be a possibility, but it seems unlikely when United employ four at the back.

A midfield diamond with Fellaini being the base should work well as he provides aerial ability, strength and the hard man qualities desperately needed. Ander Herrera and Juan Mata can take up central positions further up the pitch linking play between the defence and forward trio.

As I've mentioned before Di Maria should take up an advanced play maker role behind Falcao and Rooney. Rooney has featured in the midfield of late, but the no.10 is at home up front and with a recognised strike partner like Falcao they have the potential to terrorise defences across the Premier League.

Conclusions

The diamond formation has yielded United 13 goals and four wins in five matches. Provided the defence tightens itself up and remains injury free the return of 4-4-2 to Old Trafford will also restore the glory days at the Theatre of Dreams. Direct attacking football will prove the key to United's future success

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Topics:
Premier League
Manchester United
Marouane Fellaini
Wayne Rooney
Football

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