How will Manchester United line up with Bruno Fernandes? The Portuguese midfielder is close to joining the Red Devils.
Just hours after reports emerged of Barcelona’s bizarre interest in Bruno Fernandes in a bid to lure Valencia’s Rodrigo to the Camp Nou, The Times have now reported that Manchester United have subsequently improved their offer to €55 million, plus a further €10 million in bonuses that are ‘highly likely to be triggered’, to conclude the deal as soon as possible.
The deal also includes a further €15 million in clauses that are less likely, including winning the Ballon d’Or. United believed that there would be no interest from other clubs and with Sporting’s poor finances, the club would eventually relent. However, Barcelona’s sudden interest led to the change of stance at Old Trafford.
United have returned in recent hours to try to close the signing of Bruno Fernandes. Talks have been reopened and are intensifying as the transfer window enters the final stretch. #mufc [Record]
— United Xtra (@utdxtra) January 25, 2020
This news has been confirmed by Portuguese outlet Record, who claim the deal is now ‘practically done’. With that out of the way, let us now look at the various formations Manchester United can employ to fit in the attacking midfielder.
We will consider two scenarios while listing the formations. A hypothetical situation that sees Manchester United with all of their players available. The other one is grounded in reality and the immediacy of the present where United are without several of their top talent.
How will Manchester United line up with Bruno Fernandes?
Formation 1: 4-2-3-1
This is Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s preferred formation. At the moment, Daniel James plays on the wide left while Mata operates on the opposite flank and Pereira starts between them. Matic and Fred share the midfield role.
With the arrival of Bruno Fernandes however, it is likely that he will play in the number 10 role with either of Pereira or Mata playing on the right.
With the availability of all his players, Solskjaer may play Martial as his striker, with Fernandes behind him and Marcus Rashford and Daniel James operating on the left and right flank respectively. Paul Pogba and Scott McTominay will share the midfield responsibilities. Harry Maguire and Victor Lindelof will be the centre backs and Brandon Willams and Aaron Wan-Bissaka will shoulder the full back roles on the left and right side of the pitch.
Fomation 2: 3-5-2
This is another formation Solskjaer uses often, especially when facing a more fancied side. If United are to pull this team off with Fernandes in it, it is likely that James and Martial will operate as strikers with the Portuguese playing behind them.
The two holding midfielders will be Matic and Fred while Williams and Bisska or Diogo Dalot play as wing backs. Maguire and Lindelof will be our centre backs with either of Eric Baily or Phil Jones playing as the third in the three-man defence.
With a fully fit squad, it is likely that James will make way for Rashford. The midfield will also be replaced by Pogba and McTominay. The other positions will remain the same.
Formation 3: 4-4-2 (Diamond)
This formation will cut United’s chances from the flanks altogether. However, it will allow the side to strengthen their midfield drastically. At the moment, United do not have the best resources to use this formation well.
James and Martial can operate as the two strikers with Fernandes behind them. Matic can play as the holding midfielder and Fred can occupy one of the two positions between Fernandes and Matic. However, United are extremely short on a decent partner for Fred in the middle.
With a fully fit squad however, Rashford will replace James. McTominay will also replace Matic, who will instead be moved ahead to partner Pogba in the middle. However, Solskjaer’s preference for youth may see Fred holding on to his place.
Formation 4: 4-3-3
Manchester United are extremely ill equipped to even attempt this formation at the moment. However, with a fully fit squad, this may be the best formation to allow all of United’s players to flourish. Right now, Martial could play as a striker with Dan James and either of Pereira or Mata operating on the left and right flanks respectively.
Matic could play as the holding midfielder, while Fred and Fernandes play as the creative midfielders. United could also play either of Mata or Pereira who doesn’t play on the right, to shift to the middle. The rest of the backline would remain the same.
With all their players available, United can play Martial, Rashford and James at the front, left and right respectively. Fernandes and Pogba can play as the roaming midfielders while McTominay holds fort behind them.
This allowa United to play with potentially 5 attacking players and tremendously helps them in breaking down opponents who like to fall back when playing against them. United’s inability to break down teams that park the bus has cost them heavily this season. Having both Pogba and Fernandes roaming ahead could be the solution to this.
With Pogba’s ability to play box to box, this will also give United’s defence a boost with McTominay ahead of their backline and Pogba falling back if and when needed.
Click here for more football news