Since Ole returned to take over the reins at United the media has reported time and again that United has performed so much better because Ole has brought back the “feel good” factor and the “player are allowed to express themselves and have some fun” and the player had just given up on Mourinho. While there is a degree of truth in these statements; there are very different strategies and tactics that Ole has implemented that I believe are at least as much responsible for the turnaround over the last 5 games.
Assuming everyone come back from Dubai with the same number of limbs as they left with then I feel Ole will setup very similar to the team’s he started the first two games with. It appears to me that he has used the last three games to determine which players he can count on to play the style of football that he wants United playing.
Young Jones Lindelof Shaw
Herrera Matic Pogba
Lindgard Rashford Martial
The first change is how deGea in putting the ball back into play; the quick long ball is still an option but it’s not the primary option. More often than not deGea is getting the ball to one of the central defenders or a midfielder coming back to provide extra man, we see midfielders - not just Matic - rotate through this support role. Jones and Lindelof as the preferred central defender pairing, not for their defensive skill but for the way they can handle the ball and get a forward pass going.
Outlet passes are getting the defensive backs involved in a positive way and they have been given the license to get forward rather than waiting for the opposition to give us room to play. Whoever has the ball is looking to get it forward; if there is space ahead of them; they run into it, if they are marked then they are looking to either go around a defender or whoever has open space ahead them and getting them the ball. We are actually attacking down both flanks and not just over packing the left-hand side lobbing the ball towards goal and hoping for a stroke of brilliance from someone.
Our forwards are making runs behind the defense or they are running directly at them, even when that leaves space behind them - this was punishable by benching and being sent to Coventry when Mourinho was in charge. The interplay between the forwards and midfielders is sublime; quick, crispy one touch and penetrating passes and they have been given the liberty to actually shoot the ball. When we lose possession, the forwards are like a pack of Terries on a rat, they are not allowing the defenders to survey the pitch and make the easy outlet pass. The press is starting with the forwards, but the entire team is getting involved and while this does leave us open to teams that want to break, but we have shown over the first half of the season that we cannot sit back and stop teams from scoring so why not press and disrupt them from the front? Pressing from the front does point out the need for the correct players in the front positions; Rashford and Lindgard are thriving with this pressing system. However; the press, and the team, really suffers when we play any two of; Martial, Lukaku or Mata because the speed, quickness and effort is nowhere near as intense.
Last item; the media make a big thing about how much better Pogba is playing now that Mourinho has gone and he “enjoys playing” again. I would point out that Matic and Herrera are playing some of the best football we have seen them play at United. Shaw, who I think improve in spite of Mourinho not because of him, is now playing with freedom we have not seen since before his injury. I don’t think it is Mourinho leaving that is solely responsible for the change, instead the players are being asked to play in a style that suits their skills.
I can't believe it. I can't believe it. Football. Bloody hell.