Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is perceived to have told his players that he wants to implement a more attacking 4-3-3 formation next season.
The Norwegian has often benefited from playing two holding midfielders in big matches to give the red devils stability as they flow forward on the counter-attack.
Fred and Scott McTominay are the two players who have benefited most from this approach, but critics have often accused Solskjaer of underestimating United’s more attack-minded central midfielders – Paul Pogba, Bruno Fernandes and Donny van de Beek to name just three.
But that may change for the upcoming Premier League season, as ESPN notes that Solskjaer has discussed with his players and staff the possibility of becoming more attacking.
Fred and Scott McTominay have been regulars together for United / Alex Livesey / Getty Images
The idea of using a lone defensive midfielder is believed to have been discussed and sits deeper behind two other key players who can function in more of a free-flowing “number eight” role. Such a change could enable Solskjaer to work together centrally with Pogba and Fernandes, instead of pushing the Frenchman out as he did towards the back of last season.
Should United change their attitude, it would not be a completely foreign concept to their players. Solskjaer have distributed either Fred or McTominay on their own in games they are expected to win, but this change of mindset may prevent the duo from starting as many as the 28 matches 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 £ 35 million plus extra, was limited to just four Premier League starts in 2020/21, a total of 511 minutes in total. His long-term absence was not the result of injuries either, but Solskjaer preferred other more familiar alternatives.
Pogba was able to play along with Fernandes in the middle more often / Visionhaus / Getty Images
United’s willingness to attack more may be a direct result of signing winger Jadon Sancho from Borussia Dortmund, while there may also be more good news. Real Madrid defender Raphael Varane seems to be approaching a move, with the club “hopeful” and “excited” at the prospect of closing a deal.
There is also a fleeting interest in Atletico Madrid and England defender Kieran Trippier, who could provide much-needed coverage and competition for the overworked Aaron Wan-Bissaka.