Manchester United have travelled to Wales, where they will meet Cardiff City. It will be a special match for the Devils – Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will make his debut as the club’s manager. Former striker will remain at the helm until the end of the season and only incredible results could keep him in post after June.
Chances seem slim for that and this “grace period” could make things actually interesting. Solskjaer will be expected to improve the team, but there will be less pressure on them as well. That is why we might see some unexpected things. His first press-conference was a very positive one, too. Many journalists noted that it was good to have a manager answering questions with a smile on his face and now the fans will be itching to see his team play.
This is something Man United fans have not seen much of in recent years. With Jose Mourinho, there was no obvious style of play. The team often seemed sluggish and unimaginative, unable to create chances from team-play and always insisted on individual moments. Under Louis Van Gaal there was a system in place but it often seemed like a wrong one. His Man United was incredibly dull, with numerous 0-0s, especially at Old Trafford.
Now, with Solskjaer, a system could be instilled, but the football must be enjoyable too. This will be about performances, not just results and early signs are positive ones.
A Pressing 4-3-3
That is because Solskjaer often used a 4-3-3 in his career as Molde manager. These two different worlds, obviously, and Norwegian league is not really translatable to Premier League. However, we would like to see Man United play in a 4-3-3 formation, but not just nominally set-up in it, but also to play a modern, pressing game.
We have seen that from Maurizio Sarri’s Chelsea, while also Liverpool are known for such style. Sure, United do not have the same players as them, but with Rashford and Martial in the squad, they could spearhead this team against Cardiff. It would be quite unexpected to see the Devils truly press for entirety of the match, but we have seen such flashes against Tottenham and Arsenal.
This is always good and always expected of Man United. But there are several reasons why we often make this an important task. Firstly, United already conceded more goals than in entirety of the last campaign and the same number of goals as in 2016-17 season. Secondly, David De Gea really needs to improve his confidence. He might not be as bad this season as many are eager to point out, but his defence was not helpful at all.
Solskjaer will want to make sure United are defensively solid, as the forward players right now are not scoring goals for fun. Improvements are necessary on both ends of the pitch, but is the defense that is one of the few good things in this team in the past few years. No wonder the team has struggled so much now that has changed during this season.