By Mark Weasley
In the earlier part of his managerial career, Jose Mourinho was known for his favoured 4-3-3 formation. He used it to great perfection at FC Porto; confounding English managers and teams amidst much fanfare and aplomb
The formation, with the right players can be overly extremist. With his Chelsea team of 04-07, consisting of players like Makelele, Essien and Ballack, they negated other midfielders while relying on one or two chances to win the game.
With a certain Barcelona however, the 4-3-3 has been their favoured formation over the years, but the mindset of their players make it an attacking variant. With this formation, achieving balance is quite difficult.
Mourinho changed to the 4-2-3-1 which is more balanced. It can be tweaked into having two specialist defensive midfielders in the pivot or having a deep lying play maker and an enforcer, while there are three attacking minded midfielders ahead of them.
However, in the 2016/2017 season, Mourinho switched to 4-3-3 to accommodate Paul Pogba who struggled badly in a midfield pair, as the defensive side to his game is lacking. He often played alongside Herrera and Fellaini, but the trio lacked the necessary creative penetrating ability.
With every possibility that United could go ahead to sign a specialist midfield destroyer in the mould of an N’Golo Kante, Pogba could lose his shackles and finally deliver performances to prove he is worth every penny of the world record transfer fee United shelled out on him.
The 4-2-3-1 will also offer more impetus to the attack, which means that the attacking midfielders are closer to the strikers and can create more chances to score goals. United suffered to beak down teams last season, which ultimately derailed their season. A return back to basics will help Jose, and this summer’s transfer window will be key into getting players that fit that pattern.