‘Philosophy’ has been LVG’s favourite buzzword during his Man United tenure, but what does he mean by this? Well, it’s not entirely about tactics (though that’s the bit that I’ll be concentrating on), it’s also about the mentality and the approach of the players. For example, LVG likes his players to have ‘match rhythm’, so if a first team player is coming back from injury or hasn’t been involved recently then he’s likely to feature in the under 21’s to maintain match fitness, or rhythm. This is something I do myself on Football Manager. I prefer my players to be 100% conditioned before they return to the first team line-up, and a couple of games for the under 21’s is a good way to do this.
On the pitch the LVG philosophy can be summed up in a few words: He likes patient, possession-based football, a meticulous organisation of the defence, and slow, probing attacking play. He prefers to create one or two good chances over many.
LVG on his footballing philosophy:
Each player needs to know where he has to be, and that is why there needs to be mutual understanding because you need absolute discipline.
During almost four decades of unprecedented success under the stewardship of Sir Alex Ferguson (49 trophies), Man United developed a hugely successful style of football that was adored by the fans and entertained, enthralled and enraptured viewers around the world. This was a style built around speed with direct running, counter-attacking pace, proper wingers (not inverted), marauding full-backs and striking partnerships. This is precisely the style I aim to replicate.
In this set up United are sitting slightly deeper so they can play on the counter-attack, with a high tempo and a more expressive and direct approach. Attacking play is focussed down the wings and the support striker has freedom to roam the pitch, get on the ball, and partner the lead striker in attacks.
I’m sure that many people would disagree on the personnel, and that’s fine, but I’d imagine that most United fans would prefer this tactical approach over the current one.
For this to work properly left-sided players should be left-footed and right-sided players should be right footed, so it does feel a little bit like putting square pegs in round holes. A player like Mata doesn’t really fit in, he’s better suited in the number 10 role but United no longer have any left-footed wingers. Controversially I’d drop Rooney for him if there was another option on the left wing.
So just image if United still had Di Maria or signed someone like Antoine Griezmann, imagine if United still had or re-signed Paul Pogba. With better choices, better use of the £300 million spent and just a few personnel changes, United could have looked something like this (a starting 11 capable of competing at the top level, playing the United way):
What do you think of United’s current style of play? What do you think of my suggested changes? Would you prefer to see United get back to a more direct style of football?
Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!