Manchester United were coming off a disappointing 2-1 defeat against Huddersfield. And considering Manchester United had just one win in their last three matches after the international break, it wasn’t a secret that The Red Devils needed to get a spark out of nowhere. It could have been a player, a performance, or a specific moment in a game.
Luckily for United fans all over the world, the changes came in the form of a new tactical approach. One Manchester United already tried – successfully – during preseason. In Tuesday’s contest against Swansea City in the Carabao Cup, Jose Mourinho decided to shake things up a bit. And the results were pretty good if we considering both the opposition, and the team United lined up.
Starting XI and Tactical Changes
In case you missed it, here is the lineup United used for this game:
Sergio Romero; Victor Lindelof; Chris Smalling, Axel Tuanzebe; Matteo Darmian, Ander Herrera, Scott McTominay, Daley Blind; Jesse Lingard; Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford.
The bench featured several regular starters, such as Phil Jones, Juan Mata, Romelu Lukaku, Nemanja Matic and Henrikh Mkhitaryan. And it also included the third goalkeeper, Joel Pereira, and wanna-be-starter Luke Shaw. By all acounts, it was an alternative side.
And if you noticed something, we can also see that this was a 3-4-1-2 formation. It featured Darmian and Blind as wing-backs – the same role they use in their respective national teams – while playing Lingard on a free role behind the attacking duo of Rashford and Martial. Lingard was the star of the game with two goals, but the whole squad looked very good in this game. The defenders looked quite comfortable, especially Lindelöf who was coming off a disastrous performance vs Huddersfield only a few days ago.
Permanent Or Temporal Modification?
It remains to be seen whether United can maintain this approach in the upcoming matches. But there is no question the team has enough players to perform with that tactic. Lukaku would benefit the most, as he would partner upfront with attackers that move quite well off the ball such as Rashford, Martial, or even Zlatan Ibrahimovic once he returns from injury.
The biggest star of the game, however, was Lingard who scored both goals. But most importantly, for the first time in quite a while he looked like that generational talent that emerged from the Academy team as a teenager. Maybe he will end up playing as an old-school n°10 in a few more years. But it’s certainly an idea to consider for the coaching staff. He looked like a very competent replacement for any game that Mkhitaryan is suddenly not available.
Like we said above, time will tell if this tactical change is here to say. But it paid dividends during pre-season, and it was succesful here as well. At the very least, it’s an idea worth entertaining for future matches.