After a bad start to the season, Manchester United is now 10th in the Premier League.
As the season started, there was a lot of hope around the club. United was back in the Champions League, and the team had gotten a lot of new equipment.
But a bad run in the league and two straight losses in Europe to Bayern Munich and Galatasaray have made some people question boss Erik ten Hag.
United is under even more pressure because fans are starting to dislike the team as rivals pull away at the top of the table. United wants to be competitive in more than one area.
Having said that, there are a lot of good things going on at the club. They just haven’t been turned into league wins yet.
We will look at three tactical parts of United’s game that aren’t working out as planned in this piece and then talk about how these can be fixed.
As a group, press high
People were very excited when Ten Hag took over at Old Trafford because they thought he would bring a high-pressing style to the club.
When the other team doesn’t have the ball, there aren’t many things that get fans as excited as seeing their team rush forward to press them high and try to get the ball back.
This way of playing can work really well because the closer you can get the ball back to the other team’s goal, the better your chances of scoring quickly.
But this press hasn’t quite worked as planned. Players are too often stuck between pressing high and falling into a defensive block, which makes it too easy to get around the press. United needs to commit to pressing in this way more often if they want to press high more effectively.
When the other team builds from the back or when the ball is lost close to the goal, United’s attackers need to be ready to lead the press with quick moves.
This will only work, though, if these charging players aren’t left alone when they press.
It is common for the other team to be able to play through a high press and into open space if only three or four players are used to try to get the ball back. The midfield and defense need to work together for this to work right. If the midfield goes to help the press, the defense should push higher.
By pressing in a more tight defensive block in this way, the units would work together to try to pressure the other team and get them to give up the ball more often.
Attack the other team more
On the professional level, especially in the Premier League, football seems to be moving toward teams trying to control games more.
Ten Hag seems to put a lot of stress on control this season from a tactical point of view. For example, United focuses on building through the thirds and out from the back and trying to control the ball.
But this doesn’t always work with the strengths of the present United team. Bruno Fernandes is one of the most active and forward-thinking passers in the game.
They also have two players with great speed Rasmus Hojlund and Marcus Rashford.
In spite of this, United still seems to be losing out on a lot by not attacking with more aggression.
Teams like Manchester City and Arsenal want to control the ball more than the other team.
But United could do the same thing by attacking all the time during transition and then pressing back if they lost the ball close to the other team’s goal.As a team, United has always played fast, driving, and counterattacking football.
Old Trafford fans want to see a game that is rough and fast.
United has had a lot of problems so far this season because they want to control the game so much that they play too much in deeper spots.
It’s possible that this United team would do better with a more deliberate counter-attacking style.
Don’t play too much in the back
It looked like they wanted to play out from the back when they pulled a contract offer for David de Gea and signed Andre Onana instead.
De Gea had great reflexes and could stop shots, but he wasn’t good with his feet. On the other hand, Onana was thought to be as good as Ederson when moving out from the back.
Many people have said bad things about Onana’s play this season, especially when it comes to stopping goals and giving the ball away in dangerous spots.
But that doesn’t mean that in just a few months he has become a bad goalie.
United should stop forcing themselves to play from the back since they don’t have any players who are good at it. When they are under a lot of pressure, Raphael Varane, Victor Lindelof, Casemiro, and Christian Eriksen all feel less at ease when they receive the ball facing their own goal.
To fix this, United could play more directly, with Onana staying out a little longer when he plays out to beat the first press and force the other team to defend in a deeper block. Ten Hag wanted to have more control by playing out from the back, but Onana is good enough with the ball to send longer passes into the middle of the field.
When United uses this skill, they can quickly get into stronger situations from which they can attack the other team’s defense.
What does it all mean?
The players at Man United don’t really fit with a straight and fast attacking style of football, but they want to play a possession-based system.
United should focus on getting back to form and starting to score points in the Premier League because of the way their team is put together. United would probably get back into the running for the top spot quickly if they played in a way that made the most of their players’ skills.