Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is understood to have told his players that he wants to implement a more attacking 4-3-3 formation next season.
The Norwegian has often favoured playing two holding midfielders in big games, in order to give the Red Devils stability when they pour forward on the counter attack.
Fred and Scott McTominay are the two players who have benefitted from this approach most, but critics have often accused Solskjaer of undervaluing United’s more attack-minded central midfielders – Paul Pogba, Bruno Fernandes and Donny van de Beek to name just three.
But that could change for the upcoming Premier League season, as ESPN note that Solskjaer has discussed with his players and staff the possibility of being more attacking.
The idea of using a sole defensive midfielder is thought to have been discussed, sitting deeper behind two other central players who could operate in more of a free-flowing ‘number eight’ role. Such a change could allow Solskjaer to partner Pogba and Fernandes centrally together, instead of pushing the Frenchman out wide like he did towards the back end of last season.
Were United to change their setup, it wouldn’t be a completely alien concept for their players. Solskjaer has deployed either Fred or McTominay on their own in games they are expected to win, but this change in mindset could prevent the duo from starting as many as the 28 games they did together last season.
It could also be an opportunity for Van de Beek to make his mark at Old Trafford after a nightmare first season in Manchester. The Dutchman, who cost around £35m plus add-ons, was restricted to just four Premier League starts during 2020/21, totalling 511 minutes overall. His prolonged absences weren’t the result of injuries either, rather Solskjaer preferring other more familiar options.
United’s willingness to attack more could be a direct result of signing winger Jadon Sancho from Borussia Dortmund, while there could also be more good news to come. Real Madrid defender Raphael Varane appears to be nearing a move, with the club ‘hopeful’ and ‘excited’ at the prospect of concluding a deal.
There’s also a fleeting interest in Atletico Madrid and England full-back Kieran Trippier, who could provide much needed cover and competition for the overworked Aaron Wan-Bissaka.