Bruno Fernandes and Scott McTominay

Rangnick: Why 4-3-3 suits our midfielders

Saturday 22 January 2022 07:00

Manchester United's interim manager Ralf Rangnick has explained why he feels the 4-3-3 formation suited the three midfielders who started the midweek win at Brentford.

This season, the Reds have most often started with a central-midfield pair of Scott McTominay and Fred, or one of those players alongside Nemanja Matic, behind Bruno Fernandes at no.10.

However, Rangnick now sees things differently and hopes that the new arrangement - as seen during the 3-1 triumph over Brentford, with McTominay as the holding player, or no.6, and Fred and Bruno as marauding no.8s - will allow the latter two to be more attacking and expressive.

“The only thing we did in the end was turn that triangle in midfield around and put it upside down,” Ralf told club media, when asked about his midfield in that midweek win.

“Instead of playing with two holding no.6s and one no.10, we are now playing with one holding no.6 with Scotty, and two no.8s.” 

United v West Ham: Rangnick's press conference Video

United v West Ham: Rangnick's press conference

Get ready for Saturday's huge Premier League match by watching part one of Ralf's press conference...

“We don’t even need to tell the players how they have to interpret that role as this will happen automatically.

“Bruno will find his spaces in that pocket himself. He’s an offensive midfielder, he’s maybe even much rather a no.10 than a no.8, and the same with Fred.”

Fred has registered three assists across the last three matches, while Bruno followed up on the brace he scored at Aston Villa by setting up two goals against Brentford. Rangnick elaborated on his point by explaining how important the pair are in both phases of the game.

“I think for both players, this gives them, how shall I say, more opportunity and more freedom to play that kind of football where they’re good at – both offensively and defensively,” he added. “Fred is also a player who is probably one of our best ball-winners.

“On the other hand, we’ve all seen in the last two games, how good and how important Bruno can be in possession of the ball and also defensively; he’s always working hard. He ran more than 12k [kilometres] per game, with the highest distance in the whole game.

“At the same time, on the ball, he is somebody who can score goals himself but also be, how shall I say it, altruistic enough to see a better-placed player, as he did twice at Brentford: when he played the ball square to the better-positioned team-mates, in the first instance for Mason and then, before the third goal, when he played the ball to Marcus.”

There was some doubt about McTominay’s participation in the West Ham game, after he left the field injured late on in the win at Brentford.

Fortunately, though, it seems that there are no long-term issues and Rangnick will be afforded the possibility of keeping the midfield that performed so well against the Bees.

“According to the medical staff, and I spoke with Scotty myself yesterday, he should be back in training today and I think he will be available tomorrow,” said Rangnick, speaking at lunchtime on Friday.