Football News

Why Solskjaer’s anti-City system could actually hold Man Utd back long-term, according to Tony Cascarino

By Ben Green

Published: 14:13, 10 March 2020

Former Chelsea striker Tony Cascarino believes Manchester United will not be able to compete for the Premier League title under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s current “counterattacking” system.

The Red Devils put local rivals Manchester City to the sword on Sunday in an emphatic 2-0 win at Old Trafford, marking the third win for Solskjaer over Pep Guardiola this season alone.

Why Man Utd’s system is flawed according to Cascarino: Five things to know…

  • Man Utd have adopted a fast-paced, counterattacking system since Solskjaer took over from Jose Mourinho in December 2018.
  • This season alone, Man Utd have recorded the third-most fast breaks (26) in the league and scored the joint third-most goals (five).
  • Solskjaer identified and brought in Daniel James to improve his system, while the likes of  “target man” Romelu Lukaku left last summer.
  • Man Utd recently completed a hat-trick of wins over Man City at the weekend, taking them to within three points of the top four.
  • Despite the recent upturn in results — and performances — Cascarino believes Solskjaer’s “counterattacking” system will struggle against weaker teams.

Since stepping into the equation at Man Utd, Solskjaer has overseen a transition in style of play, from Jose Mourinho’s more pragmatic and rigid approach, to a more fluid counterattacking philosophy.

The Norwegian has experienced varying degrees of success with his adopted system, but since the acquisition of Bruno Fernandes, his side has looked a more cohesive and threatening unit.

On Sunday, reigning champions City were the latest victims of Man Utd’s newfound vibrancy, with goals from Anthony Martial and Scott McTominay sealing an important win that takes them to within three points of the top four.

Optimism has been renewed on the terraces at Old Trafford, with this latest win over City providing further bragging rights for Red Devils until next season, but Cascarino believes Solskjaer must make changes to his system when pitted against less established teams, or risk missing out on another title challenge.

In his column for The Times, he wrote: “Manchester United played in the perfect counterattacking style in their win over a terrible Manchester City, but to say all is back on track would be deceiving.

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“Their approach was brilliant but I question whether it will bring success to Old Trafford in terms of challenging for the title.

“City go anywhere and play like they are at home but virtually every other Premier League team are prepared to get numbers behind the ball and not leave spaces.

“United’s system worked so well because of who they were playing rather than because of it being faultless. If they do not play with more dynamism I can see a lot of stalemates coming in games against smaller teams who hold a disciplined shape out of possession.

“They were excellent but they will struggle to challenge for domestic silverware if that is their intended course for the future.”


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