Agreed on the need for a defensive leader. It's becoming more and more apparent with each passing game. We have players who are of a good enough quality to start on their good days, however they aren't capable of picking themselves up and getting back into the game on a bad day. We need to have someone who can do that for them, but with the transfer window closed we're in a tough spot. We'll need to get on a good run of form and results to give our back line the momentum it needs to keep the good performances coming I think.
Yeah Januzaj has definitely been rather selfish recently. It's not a good sign that he seems to be regressing in terms of maturity, perhaps it's a sign that the fame and expectation is getting to him a little? I think he might just need a good hairdryer session or two to get his head right though. I really like what he offers in terms of interchangeability, pace and interplay, as well as his rather dynamic set of qualities. To me, he's capable of filling that second ST/FW role because I feel if you already have one true 9 then it's a bit of a waste to play another. Januzaj has always given me the impression that he'd make a good F-9 and this formation opens the door for him to show whether or not he actually can, while still offering him the fallback option of reverting to more of a typical RW position if it's not working so well. It would also make the transition and fluidity more seamless because he is a more dynamic player than RvP.
Though you're right that ATM RvP is head-and-shoulders above Januzaj as a player, so maybe I'm getting ahead of myself a little. Still, RvP won't play every game this season so there should be a chance or two to try it out, and I hope to see it at some point.
Rooney did look a bit sharper against QPR, I agree. He looked a bit more interested in the team and excited as a whole I felt, whereas so far this season I've felt that he may have been a bit frustrated at times. He seems to be enjoying himself and his new teammates more, and I think that it provides the extra incentive he needs to pick his game up a little. What do you think?
Also, did you watch any UCL games? My pick to win the whole thing this season is BVB. They finally have the depth and quality on the bench needed to compete on multiple fronts. They've shown in past seasons they can hang with and beat the best, and this season I think they will go all the way, but only if their perpetual injury crisis lets up a little and they get some of their players back for the long term.
From the other contenders, PSG I don't take seriously as a true CL winning calibre team (semi's at the very most), RM and Barca both need to prove their defensive mettle to me, Bayern is in a bit of an identity crisis in terms of what players to use and lack a true CAM other than Goetze (who Guardiola uses predominantly on the wing), and anyone else I haven't mentioned isn't a true contender IMO aside from Chelsea, who are probably second favourites to me. They have a complete team and a strong bench, but that being said they have their own set of issues to deal with, like only having one striker who seems able to score and having a really rigorous domestic campaign to deal with.
Evans looked better again today, so hopefully he'll prove me right. He looked much more assured defensively. Apparently he gave the ball away a few times too many, which I can't remember happening too much but someone I trust said so. He needs to work on it but hopefully he's putting the horror show of his first 2 performances behind him now.
Wow DDG really scared me today! He showed more of what I wanted to see in terms of being a sweeper-keeper, but he needs to get wayyyy better at it if he wants to keep it up. Stylistically though I'm glad to see it, it's a good omen for the future that he's trying to sweep up behind the defense. On that note, I just wanted to say that most keepers in the BuLi now are trying to imitate what Neuer does. Leno just last Friday for Leverkusen came out all the way to the halfway line! He's really revolutionized the GK game.
Good summary of LvG's plans, I can agree with what you said there about the Total Football approach and being a machine, as well as creating a solid platform from which a new, lasting identity can be built.
Well ADM was used in a hybrid CM-LW role today, but we didn't play a 3-5-2. It might be dead for us now anyway so we can revisit ADM as a WB if we go back to 3-5-2 and if it happens that LvG plays him there.
I think you were happy with the variety of ways we played the ball out of the back today. Sometimes we played a short passing game, sometimes a long ball, and sometimes a CB carried it forward. It was good to see.
Lol it does seem that we think the final image will be something very similar, but I have a weird way of saying things and I'm not always clear on my points so we're kind of going back and forth saying the same thing in different words.
On the game:
Fantastic! This is exactly what I wanted to see in terms of performance, and nearly what I wanted formation wise.
First of all, everyone is saying the formation was a midfield diamond, but I disagree to an extent. It's not that I think it wasn't a diamond, but rather that it was more than a diamond. It was a very free-form formation, none of the attacking players really had a set position. The starting shell looked to me like a really compact 4-3-3 like this:
Which can take both the diamond shape when Di Maria stays back and Rooney and RvP move forward, and also a more standard 4-3-3 shape when Di Maria moves up the left wing and Rooney/RvP move forward. Mata is a bit of an attacking pivot in that the attackers sort of flow around him in a predominantly central position. I absolutely loved the free-flowing nature of our shape and how players kept swapping places and positions, and moving into space as necessary.
The only area where this wasn't on display too often was on our right. With the more mobile (than RvP) Rooney on the left, as well as Di Maria moving into the LW area, we had a more natural 4-3-3 type shape on the left for large portions of the match, but neither RvP nor Herrera can replicate that on the right. Mata, when ADM was in a more central role, could have shifted to the right and linked up with Herrera out wide to create some of that width and dynamic play on that side too. Or we could swap RvP with Januzaj.
Thoughts on all that?
In terms of individual players, Di Maria obviously was on fire today. What a performance from our #7! He is quickly becoming a favourite of mine.
Rojo linked up well with him down the left-hand side, but from the 4 signings that started today he was the most average. Still, good showing from him and I hope he keeps it up and keeps improving.
Blind was fantastic. Great distribution and good defensive cover. The only concern I have is that he is a bit lightweight and may need to add on a few pounds of muscle to withstand the physicality and wear-and-tear of the PL, but otherwise I was highly impressed by him.
Herrera showed his LA Galaxy side again. Hopefully this time it's here to stay, but I really like what I see in him. He thrives in a quick-moving style of play, and if we build around that then we can hopefully be a bit similar to how BVB in terms of their breakneck speed of attack.
It's too bad we let go of Kagawa though, because he would have really thrived in that kind of a system (as is evident by him bossing things for BVB immediately upon returning). He may have been our second best player after ADM in this kind of setup, and it's sad that he was shipped out before he had the opportunity to prove his worth in a style that suits him. Oh well, BVB are a great team and I'm glad they're getting quality players back in.
Defensively we looked pretty solid for the most part. Not elite, and we'll probably need a bigger name or two for next season, but we should be good enough for a PL level if Evans regains his good form, Rafael stays in good form and Rojo keeps it up. Jones has been spectacular so far, Blackett has been a solid squad-role type player, and Shaw looked really good before succumbing to injury.
All in all I was really impressed by the performance. There are a few kinks that need to be worked out, and RvP and Rooney didn't look like they were meshing too well, but hopefully those things improve in the coming weeks. If we keep this up we will make top 4, no doubt in my mind, so hopefully we don't regress now or later and only keep improving.
Haven't had time for a full response yet but I wanted to get my predicted 11 in before the match.
I'm thinking for this match he'll stick with the 3-5-2, even though, as you said, we don't quite have the players for it right now. Evans has played as the right-sided CB before, and did so pretty much every time he played before last season, so I think he might be used on that side. LvG has said he sees Blind primarily as a DM so I think he'll use him there.
Evans Rojo Blackett
ADM Blind Herrera Shaw
I just have a gut feeling that he doesn't want to abandon the 3-5-2 so fast, even though it would make sense to do so. If he does do it I think this would be a pretty strong 11. The defensive line isn't great but if it does end up looking like this hopefully it works out.
One amendment I can think of to make this a bit more defensively sound would be to play Valencia at RB, and ADM at CAM or as the RF in place of Mata (with Rooney moving into the #10 role if ADM is RF). If Herrera isn't ready to start just yet then I could see Valencia at RB and ADM at CM.
The reason why I think Valencia would start over Rafael is because he's more experienced in this formation so far, and with all these new players coming in we need guys on the pitch who are a bit more comfortable with what they're doing.
Also, Kagawa was really good. Man, how I wish we could have seen more of him for United! His pass to set up the first goal was a beauty.
What I'd like to see, and would do myself, is the same thing you suggested. Great balance of qualities
Hey, sorry it took a little while. School started again and I've caught a cold, which these days seems to entail a multi-day spell of unrelenting headaches and dizziness. I thought this stuff was only supposed to hit you hard when you were 40 or so -_-
With Reus injured Kagawa will have his chance to shine right away. I'm devastated for Reus, but for Shinji it's a great chance to get back into the swing of things. If Reus manages to come back to full fitness in a timely manner and maintains his fitness, then I think BVB might just win the CL this season. I've got a good feeling about them this year.
Oh you misunderstood me about Evans. I didn't mean to come across like I would start him right away. What I meant was that once he stops passing like a moron he will likely be a part of our best 11 if we play 3 CBs, and if we play 2 then it would depend on whether or not Jones can keep his form up and how Rojo performs. So I agree with you, definitely. Like you said, he's the defensive captain and he just can't make these mistakes.
Sure we're not like Bayern and DDG isn't Neuer, but he is an athletic keeper and I think that he would be able to play the sweeper-keeper role well in a smaller area of influence. I wouldn't expect him to rush as far out as Neuer does, but I do think he has it in him to do it from time to time. He's young and quick off the mark, and I think it's a good way for him to develop his game to become an even better keeper, because he certainly is still at an age where he can still develop vastly as a player.
And yup, you misunderstood about the formation lol. I definitely would prefer a 4-3-3 at this point. The 3-5-2 I outlined was more so making the best out of an undesirable situation. Also, you brought up several times that we aren't Bayern or Barca, but I honestly think our style will be fundamentally similar in the near future since they were both also built off the LvG foundation. He is set in his philosophy, and unless he gets fired prematurely we will somewhat resemble these teams. With that being said, when I suggest things like I did in my previous comment I mean them in a more long term sense, as in that it is more or less the shape and style I want us to work towards and hopefully be at later on in the season. We aren't pass masters just yet, but that will certainly be the style that LvG wants to use so we should already be training the squad to think like that and play like that, and then we can replace players for others who fit into that design better in the future. It's a personal preference of mine not to, as I see it, waste time on temporary styles (mostly) and formations (to a lesser extent, sometimes it's necessary though) because then when the players get used to that temporary style/formation they have to be retrained, in a sense, to fit the more permanent one.
So with that said, we might not have the short passing players just yet, but if that's the eventual style we'll play then we need to switch to players who can do that. There is no sense, IMO, in using someone like Jones for example, if he isn't a good enough passer for the long-term vision LvG has. If he can't play the style we'll be using then he wouldn't even be good for the bench because he'd just break the system when he's played. He needs to either pick up his passing game and improve to the point where he can function in an LvG system, or he needs to be shipped out. I don't mean to single out Jones, what I said is applicable to all our players. I think LvG has already cut out the players he feels can't exist in his philosophy anyway though, so the players who are still here I think he sees as having the talent for the kind of passing game he wants to play. Besides maybe Fellaini since he might have been shipped out.
Now, I do agree that we don't really have the Barca/Bayern players just yet, and we can't aim to replicate the way they play right away. But we can start to adjust the mindset and style of our players to move them in that direction. That, coupled with me saying I would actually prefer the 4-3-3, hopefully answers a lot of your concerns.
So anyway, if we do keep hold of the 3-5-2 for now you brought up some interesting points. I think, first of all, I explained what I wanted to see a bit poorly. If ADM were one of our WBs I would expect him to regularly push forward and spread the play for us. He would be our Robben, and this is something you brought up in preseason. If our WBs can perform their jobs well, then they are the ones who will stretch the pitch for us, which would make it okay for our strikers (Rooney and RvP it was back then) to not be so good at that. Shaw and ADM are both electric going forward and incredibly pacey, so I think with them stretching the play we'd be fine (you convinced me lol). Also, due to how flexible our players are we could easily transition our formation mid-game to fit a 4-3-3 mould by taking turns with pushing ADM (primarily) and Shaw forwards while the other stays back to create a back 4, since both Jones and Rojo, who would presumably play as RCB and LCB respectively, capable of filling in at FB. The only concern is ADM's ability to fill in at RB, but to circumvent that Blind can fill in at LB, Jones could move to RB and ADM could fit into the CM. This kind of formational fluidity is something that LvG put on full display during the WC, and I wouldn't be surprised to see that throughout the season. I think if we fluidly changed shapes like that during a match then the lack of play-stretching players up front wouldn't be a problem. It would also make sense then to play ADM at RWB since he would be changing positions frequently to get into more attacking positions.
In regards to playing the ball out of the back and not having the best players for it, I agree and disagree. Our CBs aren't the greatest on the ball, but Shaw has looked decent, ADM is fantastic on the ball, and our presumable starting CM players are all excellent on the ball (Blind, Herrera and Mata). Blind can pick out long range targets to perfection, Herrera is excellent at moving the ball with short passes and carrying the ball forward, and Mata is a pass-master. Our CM is actually very good in this regard, and I don't think we'd have any issues with playing the ball out as long as they are close enough to our CBs that they don't have problems with picking the CM players out. They have a great mix of talents and would be good at playing the ball both through the middle and playing it wide. This is something we haven't had in recent times in our midfield, but with these new players I think we'll start to look much stronger here. They can easily adapt to whatever we need at the moment, be it long range balls, carrying the ball forward or playing one-twos. Plus Herrera is good at drifting wide and supporting our WBs.
Don't worry, LvG doesn't really do Tiki Taka. His philosophy requires wingers like Robben or ADM, so wing play will most certainly be part of our finished product look. We will probably look more like Bayern then Barca, with an emphasis on being able to hold the ball and being good at passing, but also on blazing fast wing play to create. Pep made it too much about the Tiki Taka aspects of that style, but with LvG we probably won't have to concerned about that since it was never really his style to just hold the ball for the sake of holding it. Plus, even Pep looks to have moved on from Tiki Taka judging from what I've seen this season. Bayern is playing like the treble-winning Bayern again, which is fantastic to see.
Honestly, I don't see it as lunacy to play a 60m player as a WB or CM if that's where he fits in. I already outlined how he could maintain his attacking input as a RWB by fluidly changing the team's shape mid-game, so hopefully you agree on that now. In terms of him not being defensive enough, that's why I'd want Jones to play on his side. Jones is a no-nonsense defender and he'd be the most capable of holding down the right side of the defence with minimal support out of who we have. Until it's proven otherwise, I would be very comfortable with him there as the only real defender on that side. Plus ADM is a responsible player and plays a mean box-to-box game, so I'm sure he could provide at least some support to Jones back there.
What you said about Januzaj fitting better into wide role is exactly what I meant. When I suggest these formations and stuff I mean it long term, so while RvP may get the initial vote of confidence and get to start, I would expect that the final look would be for Januzaj to start there because, as we both agree on, he's the better fit. In regards to the system, if we became reliant upon RvP cutting in from the side and being the goal-threat he is then that would be problem if he isn't there. We'd need to change our entire approach. It wouldn't be an issue if it wasn't a primary aspect of our game, but with the quality he has I can easily see us becoming reliant on him again.
Agreed that the 4-3-3 is fundamentally better for us.
Hmm compact was the wrong word. I was wrong to say compact from front to back, I meant more so that if we are more compact at the back and hold tighter lines then the two formations resemble each other. We can be open up front and stretch play, but defensively if our back 3 and midfield 4-1 hold tight together then our formation looks a lot like a midfield diamond. I think everything that can be accomplished with a 4-4-2 diamond can also be accomplished with the 3-5-2 as long as we have the right players on the pitch, because the key difference between the two is how far apart the DM is from the CBs and the FBs position in comparison to the WBs. If the 3-5-2 and 4-4-2 both hold a decently high defensive line then the DM is level with the 2 CBs (or the 3 CBs are in the DM area) and the FBs are positioned wide of the 2 shuttlers, similar to where the WBs are positioned. Everything else is pretty much identical. Of course you have a point that it hasn't worked yet, but given time I'm sure it'll come off better. LvG always needs a while to get rolling so I'm not too worried just yet.
Can't wait to see how LvG ends up doing it. I hate the international break right after the season starts, it's fucking dreadful!
Arrrghhh I completely forgot Fellaini is still part of the squad! Hard to fit him in though so we'll just have to see how LvG ends up using him. His 50 minutes total so far haven't been enough to judge where he ends up being used IMO.
Okay I'm back!
First off, NOOOO Shinji!!!! TBH though I'm a bit glad he's back at BVB. They love him, they know how to use him properly, and I watch them often so I'll see plenty of him. Can't wait to see him tear teams apart again :D
Good to know Wilson did well. Evans has been struggling, for sure. I hope it's only a temporary thing though because if he can get back into top form I think he'll join Jones and Rojo as our starting CBs. It's odd how he keeps giving the ball away in dangerous areas though.
In regards to pressing a back 3 vs a back 4, I disagree with your disagreement lol. If we consider the back 3 to be a flat 3, then yes it is easier to press them than a back 4, but a back 3 can easily become a back 4 or 5 if the WBs move back a little to give that width, and the CB on the other side of the pitch can then step further out wide to provide width there (with the WB then being free to push forward and receive a long ball). I've seen Bayern do it often when the CBs were struggling to play the ball forward. Also, they use Neuer A LOT to keep the CBs safe, which works because he's great on the ball, ready to burst forward to receive a pass and the CBs hold a high line so there is too much space to cover for the opposing forwards to pressure Neuer after receiving a pass.
Our CBs sit way too deep though for that to work. It's something I actually want to see improved, our team is not compact enough from front to back. Our forwards are pretty far forward and our CBs sit pretty deep, leaving tons of space for the opposing team to occupy between them and too much space for our "inner" players to cover. De Gea has the ability to play as a sweeper-keeper, and I think we need him to work on that. It would give our CBs the confidence to compress our formation a bit and push forward, but I hopefully not as much as Bayern. That back line is just suicidally high...
What that tangent leads me to, and this is back on topic lol, is that if there is less space between our "lines" then there are more close options for them to pass to without our more forward players sacrificing their ability to get forward. And if there is no clear pass forward or sideways, then there's also the safe back pass to DDG. I think it would really help with a lot of our problems when we're holding the ball TBH. Thoughts?
Good summary on wingers versus inverted wingers. If I had to pick one I do like wingers more, but I like dynamic players the most. Guys like Reus who can be a traditional wide threat one play, then cut inside another. It opens up more options in the attack. Januzaj is like this from our current crop, as is Di Maria. They can, as you said, provide width and push the ball forward and pin the other team back, but then they can also cut in for a shot or create chaos with a dizzying run. Valencia is too much of a one-trick pony, and Young can theoretically do both but he only does one in each wing. He's a one-trick pony, and the trick changes depending on the wing he's on lol.
With the 3-5-2 being our defensive option I meant that it could be once our players are more accustomed to it. As it stands it sucks for us, but the players will hopefully get used to it soon (if we keep using it, which I think we will).
In regards to the formation we'll use, I think it'll remain a 3-5-2 because we don't really have the players for a 4-3-3 without leaving multiple new signings or established stars on the bench. If it was LvG's plan to bench some of them (like Rooney or RvP) then surely he would have just sold one IMO. I'll get back to this later, first I'll share my thoughts on your formations.
I like this lineup, but I don't like RvP on the wing. The ideal would be to replace him with Januzaj. Star players are important, but I'm not a fan of compromising the system to fit names (typical German I guess lol). I wouldn't even make him play his way ahead of RvP TBH, because if we do it the way you've suggested we wouldn't have anyone to rotate Falcao with at ST to preserve his energy. It shouldn't be too much of an issue this season since our schedule will be pretty light. But if injury strikes it would be an issue for me. I personally like to have backup players to fill a starter's role so that the system can remain intact. Falcao/RvP, Januzaj/Young, Di Maria/Valencia, Rooney/Mata (not a good replacement, but the only real option), Herrera/Anderson, Blind/Fletcher, etc. I don't like it when a system is built around unique talents, instead I want them to be secondary perks to the core qualities of the system in place.
That's a bit confusing so I'll use Barca as an example (before last season). Their entire system was built around Messi being Messi up top. The system required a player of Messi's talents for it to be functional, so when he wasn't available it pretty much broke apart. Likewise, I wouldn't want to build a formation around having RvP as one of our wingers, but nobody else could really take over that role if he gets hurt. It caters to his specific qualities as a player, which isn't great for a system IMO.
Otherwise I do really like this 4-3-3, especially the midfield.
Honestly, this is so much like 3-5-2 that they are nearly interchangeable (assuming a more fluid defensive shape).
Rafael Jones Rojo Shaw
Herrera Di Maria
Can easily become:
Jones Blind Rojo
Rafael Herrera Di Maria Shaw
as long as our defenders hold a bit of a higher line. In teams like Bayern and Barca (built off the LvG model) the DM often ends up nearly level with the CBs to sometimes create something very similar to a back 3, and the FBs end up pretty much level with the CM players. So as long as we're compact from front to back, the diamond and the 3-5-2 will be nearly identical.
In regards to Di Maria drifting wide from CM, we've already seen some of that in his first game and Herrera did it quite often in preseason. I think it's something that would be preserved in the 3-5-2 if we took that shape, and I agree that it'd be great to have. I wouldn't start Rooney behind RvP and Falcao TBH though. That leaves us with no depth at ST (again, without compromising the system). We'd also not have good coverage in our midfield TBH, with only Anderson and Fletcher capable of covering for Herrera and Di Maria, and only Fletcher capable of covering for Blind. As soon as one goes down to injury we're incredibly short on depth. The 4-3-3 is superior to this one for this reason IMO.
What I'd personally use is the modified version of your 4-3-3 I suggested. This is how I summarized the formation conundrum to Trey Tak, let me know what you think. I only really settled on this 4-3-3 after I saw yours again though lol.
I can honestly say I have no clue how to best fit our players in ATM. Our squad is so attack heavy! In FIFA when I made the transfers, United's attack jumped to 89, the highest in the game, but the defense was down to 71 lol. Our squad is so lopsided in talent right now it's ridiculous.
I'm going to assume that we play either 4-3-3 or 3-5-2 since those are LvG's formations.
This isn't quite what I'd do, but it's the only way to fit all our new players and big names into the same 11. I could see LvG try to convert Di Maria into an attacking WB to fit the formation. I'm not too impressed with Rooney in the midfield though, especially in a 2 man CM. He would need a third CM beside him to operate well in that area I think.
TBH I don't think we have the players for a 4-3-3. We have 1 good winger and 3 good strikers, and this formation needs 2 wingers and only 1 striker. I don't really see us using this now TBH. RvP doesn't have the legs to play as a traditional LvG wide-player, but Blind Herrera-Rooney in a 1-2 shape could be really good. Lot's of energy and grit in the box-to-box pair, and Blind is a great passer.
I think in the end LvG will stick with 3-5-2. I think the best way to use it would be to make some tweaks to the formation above.
Falcao is more of an out-and-out striker so I would want Rooney beside him rather than RvP because he is a bit more versatile and mobile. He also drops back more which is necessary from the player beside the ST IMO, and with Falcao staying up top we need Rooney more. Blind is in the midfield to provide defensive cover for Herrera so he's more free to push forward and join the attack, with Evans or Blackett (preferably Evans, despite his horrific passing so far because that HAS to end at some point) coming in in the center of the CBs. I would have Jones on the right because he's been the most defensively solid of our CBs, and with the more attack-minded Di Maria on that side as a WB I think it'd be better to have him there. The formation would also allow Shaw to step back in to the back line and form a defensive 4 with him as LB and Jones as RB, Mata could shift backwards, and Di Maria could move up forming this 4-3-3:
Jones Evans Rojo Shaw
Mata Blind Herrera
Di Maria Falcao Rooney
Giving us an option to change our shape without changing players. We could also use Di Maria in the midfield here with Mata and Rooney behind Falcao to make a 4-3-2-1. I feel like this group of players is the most malleable in terms of positions and roles, and that they'd make our strongest 11 because of that.
To clarify, if we were to go the 3-5-2 route that's what I'd do, it's not what I really want. It gives us interchangeability in our formation and positional fluidity, but it doesn't allow us to preserve the system with substitutes coming in... actually I just changed my mind because I forgot about Lingard at first lol. Lingard for Mata, Januzaj for Rooney (hard to replace Rooney as always due to his skill set, but Januzaj can be the positionally-free forward beside the striker). We can be fluid in our formation and reasonably preserve the system. I would prefer the 4-3-3 but this ones doesn't look bad now that I look at it again.
Just to let you know, I've been extremely busy and will continue to be for a while. I won't be able to respond during this time.
Definitely agreed on Young. I wasn't trying to excuse him, just trying to understand why he suddenly lost all the attacking drive he showed in preseason. It seems to me like that's what his problem is right now, but if he can overcome it and start showing the drive he showed in preseason maybe he can still be useful to have as a backup.
I didn't get to see Wilson play :(
Yeah it's true that we didn't ever look totally clueless in front of our net before, but it's not like it never happened. With a system that these guys had presumably played their whole lives they still sometimes managed to make a mess of things with who was responsible for whom and where they were expected to be. We don't have a true organizer and leader at the back, and haven't really had one since Vidic hit his injury patch. Evans has done it at times, and Rio, the other option, made so many defensive errors that the younger guys mostly were covering for him.
It's interesting you noted that high pressing destroys our midfield and defense, whereas before it didn't really shake our defense. I think it's because we are now playing a more modern style where our CBs are basically our deeper distributors of the ball. They are the ones being pressured by the other team more so than our midfielders, and because they can't get the ball out our midfielders drop back and that creates the vacuum between them and the forwards. Our CBs are higher up the pitch, often where you would expect a DM to play, and really double up in that role when we do hold the ball. It's what other big clubs like Bayern and Barca do all the time, and both were built off the LvG template. That's also why these clubs love to convert DMs into CBs.
With our CBs though that is a problem because they aren't used to playing as the distributors. It's part of why I want Carrick back there TBH. We need someone who is comfortable playing the ball out to really execute this game plan properly. Blind is another player who can fill that role. Our CB line is, IMO, the root of all our problems ATM if I'm being totally honest. It pulls our WBs back and makes them overly cautious (even when they shouldn't be), it pulls our CMs back to try and collect the ball, and it thus creates a gap in our formation between the CMs and the CAM/CF/ST.
Was Evans really that bad after the 60th minute? Other than his horrific mistake, he did look really solid, at least defensively. It's crazy how that can turn around all of a sudden. It seems like everything went completely to shit the moment Powell was taken off and Wilson was brought on, because that was the very last thing I saw.
Mmm yeah from what I saw we looked pretty good and were threatening to break MK Dons open while Kagawa was on, but Januzaj looked horrible as his replacement. He was never in the right areas and kept changing the shape into a 3-4-3 by moving too far ahead and to the side. He isn't doing anything to change my opinion that he isn't suited to playing as a 10 right now.
I dunno, it seems too convenient to label it an anomaly for me. We started looking poor against Valencia, when we were still on a winning streak, then we looked poor against Swansea, and up until then we also hadn't lost. Since then it's gotten worse, but the decline already started in preseason. It just doesn't make sense how everyone could suddenly become so poor in these areas of the game.
Yeah I also think Kagawa is the better fit there. I listed Mata since he's the "starter" but Kagawa would probably take his place in the long run. I think it's okay for Jones to play in the midfield role because his role in that setup, as we saw last season, is very similar to playing CB anyway. He would practically be the central CB in our 3 CB line, but he's just pushed a little forward instead of holding that line. He's still only really responsible for being a defensive presence. In the 4-2-3-1 his role is different of course, but in the 4-3-3 it's very much the same as it is now, which is what makes it so easy for the formation to slide back into a 3-5-2.
In the 4-2-3-1 I probably should have put Mata in the middle, but with 3 attacking midfielders swapping positions is to be expected anyway. It was more so to illustrate how the formation can take 3 different shapes without needing any players to come in. I agree that it would be better to take Rooney out if we were settling on that 4-2-3-1 in a match, but if we were to just adopt it to get through some heavier pressure for a while then we wouldn't need to make any substitutions. We could change shapes at will to match what we need at that moment, and that's something I really like about the formation I proposed.
3-5-2 when we need to sit tight and defend, 4-2-3-1 when we have a slight lead and need to be more careful, 4-3-3 when we want to attack more. We have a lot of tactical options with this set of players. Thoughts on that?
Oh forgot I had more to reply to. I'll just do that now.
Watched the video about Herrera. His movement was definitely missed. TBH I thought Cleverley would do a bit better in that regard because he showed some potential there when he played as an 8 in preseason, but it was really lacking on the day. You're absolutely right that he's only been moving until about halfway. He showed signs of breaking that habit, but it didn't come to fruition, or at least not yet.
What's actually astounding is that it's the basics of our play that has regressed since the season started. If you look at a team in preseason, it's not so much the results that matter but the match sharpness, and we looked really sharp. Just like I highlighted with Fletcher, our movement, positioning, spacing, passing, chemistry, etc was all at a good level, but since the PL started it's all gone down the toilet. It makes absolutely no sense unless they are being either overworked in training or if LvG's coaching is causing issues with their understanding of what's expected of them. I mean, these are all qualities which theoretically should only improve with more match fitness and sharpness. I see no other reason why it would suddenly regress to this point, and it's really applicable to all players other than our CBs (who have their set of problems).
I agree on the 2v1's. I'm actually not a big fan of any formation that uses more than 1 forward for this reason really. Forwards (wingers included) often feel obliged to neglect their defensive duties, whereas the wide attacking midfielders in a 4-2-3-1 are more or less expected to track back and play defense (a la Chelsea or Bayern in their treble winning season). 4-3-3 is a good formation, but my personal preference is the 4-2-3-1 because it's more solid defensively but nearly equally potent going forward. It's better balanced, as we've sort of touched on before.
Either way though, both are much better than the 5-3-2 in this regard.
I was just thinking while I was at work about the 4-3-3, and I had what I believe is a pretty good idea about what we could do, and it solves the defensive conundrum I brought up before as well. It's similar to something you suggested before.
Rafael Evans Rojo Shaw
Di Maria RvP Mata
Evans probably had a stinker of a game today, but he has been quality for the past few seasons so I won't look too far into this. He can be the leader and organizer in the back while Rojo is the athletic, physical presence. Shaw and Rafael are a given at FB. Jones get's to perform what I feel is his best role, as a pure DM. He's shown in his frequent forays forward that he isn't actually that bad on the ball, and I'm sure LvG could improve him a bit in that regard still. Plus LvG has always preferred a defensive hard-man in the midfield, and Jones certainly fits the script. Best of all, his ultra defensive presence gives the advanced CM pairing of Herrera and Rooney to play their natural games and push forward more or less at will.
Mata (Kagawa might ultimately be the better fit here though) can be free to drift inside with Shaw ready to provide width, Di Maria is our bonafide winger on the right and RvP is the striker. The best part is though that this lineup can shift to a 3-5-2:
Evans Jones Rojo
Rafael Di Maria Herrera Shaw
Rafael Evans Rojo Shaw
Di Maria Rooney Mata
Let me know what you think.
In regards to Rojo, I watched the video. Quite impressive. I agree with your summary of him, but one thing I forgot to bring up when we discussed him before which I meant to say (and talked to someone else about, can't remember who but it might have been Abz) is that I have yet to see him ever pass backwards, even when he moves forward and has more backward options than just the keeper. He sometimes tries to force a play and loses the ball instead of passing it back and trying from a different angle, which will hopefully be ironed out of his game.
I saw the first 60 minutes, then I had to leave. How on earth did it happen?!?!?