Lindelof and Maguire leaving the pitch.

Solskjaer hints three-man defence could stay

Monday 21 October 2019 07:00

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has suggested Manchester United could play with three at the back again, after the change of formation was successfully deployed against Liverpool on Sunday.

The manager sprung a big surprise by selecting a trio of centre-backs at Old Trafford, initially with Victor Lindelof, Harry Maguire and Axel Tuanzebe all in the starting XI, before an injury suffered in the warm-up forced the latter to be placed by Marcos Rojo. Phil Jones took his place on the bench as a result.

Flanked by Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Ashley Young, the three starting centre-backs all performed well against a dangerous Liverpool attack and Solskjaer was pleased by the new formation’s effectiveness. 

When asked in his post-match press conference if the shape was specifically selected for this game, or whether fans will see it again in other fixtures, the manager hinted that it could be here to stay. 
Highlights: United 1 Liverpool 1 Video

Highlights: United 1 Liverpool 1

Watch Rashford's goal, Mane's disallowed strike, Lallana's equaliser and other key moments from the game...

“It can develop into something because we’ve got the players to play with three at the back,” Ole told reporters at his media briefing on Sunday. “It allows more width in the team than we’ve had. 

“Of course, it’s a risk when you play with three at the back against their [Liverpool] front three, which is a great front three. But it’s a risk we had to take. We did it to create chances for ourselves. I thought the goal was the perfect example of how we wanted the game to pan out.”

In the adjusted formation, United looked particularly lively on the counter attack and regularly utilised the blistering pace of Daniel James and Marcus Rashford down the channels, with those two youngsters combining brilliantly for the team’s opening goal on 36 minutes.

Ole was pleased by the direct nature of our play and he is keen for the players to take more risks going forward. “We’re better when we attack quickly - no dilly-dallying on the ball,” he said.

“Play the ball forward - it doesn’t have to be a counter attack. I spoke about it before the game: take more risks, be braver. It doesn’t matter if you lose the ball up there because you can win it back. 

“In the Champions League final, Liverpool got a penalty after 40 seconds from hooking the ball in behind [off a player’s arm]. It’s about playing the right type of football and playing direct helped us.”

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