Solskjaer told he is back to square one, as new Man Utd formation has dire effect on duo

Date published: Sunday 31st October 2021 10:40 - Jonny Whitfield

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer after Tottenham v Man Utd, October 2021

Gary Neville has warned Ole Gunnar Solskjaer that his latest Manchester United formation will have damaging implications for two players.

Manager Solskjaer felt the need to change his tactics in the wake of the 5-0 defeat to Liverpool. United faced hefty scrutiny for their disorganisation when pressing out of possession.

As such, Solskjaer switched from his trademark 4-2-3-1 to a 3-4-1-2 for Saturday’s clash with Tottenham. Full-backs Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Luke Shaw became wing-backs.

Up front, meanwhile, Bruno Fernandes played behind striker duo Cristiano Ronaldo and Edinson Cavani. The change in formation worked, with Man Utd beating Spurs 3-0.

What’s more, Ronaldo scored the opener before setting up Cavani for the second. Still, £73million summer signing Jadon Sancho did not start or come off the bench.

According to Neville, the England winger could soon face a similar predicament to Donny van de Beek. The midfielder has only played 141 minutes across three games this term and reportedly wants to leave.

Neville said that Sancho has come into a team that has “looked completely disjointed”. He added that the player is “probably thinking, ‘What the hell am I in here? What is this?'”

As for the criticism for United’s defensive pressing, Neville pointed out that Sancho is fifth or sixth in the top four clubs’ list of players who put in the most defensive running.

He added: “But he must be sat on that bench today thinking, ‘What am I doing?’, now he’s thinking, ‘Where do I play in that system?’.

“Because I don’t see him in a three in midfield, and I don’t see him in a two up front, so he’s probably thinking, ‘Where is my career at Manchester United?’.

“And Van de Beek’s thinking the same. Today has been a good day but it does cause problems elsewhere.”

While Sancho sat on the bench, so too did Mason Greenwood. Solskjaer has hailed the 20-year-old as one of the best finishers at the club. As such, Neville aired concern that he was not on the pitch in north London.

Solskjaer, Man Utd concern for Greenwood

Mason Greenwood celebrates after scoring for Manchester United.

“There is no doubt this is not Ole’s plan. Having Greenwood and Sancho on the bench is not the plan,” Neville said.

“It wasn’t part of the recruitment plan in the summer, that’s not what Ole was thinking.

“The change of system did look like it benefitted Cristiano Ronaldo because it took the pressure off him from a defensive point of view.

“Today suited him perfectly. He looked like a team he was part of. Sancho will end up exactly the same [as Van de Beek] if he’s not careful.”

While United won their latest match, they face another tough test against Atalanta in the Champions League on Wednesday. What’s more, there is the derby with Manchester City next Saturday.


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