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Man United are preparing for next manager with formation change

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It is rather ironic that Manchester United’s recent success has come from playing the very formation Ole Gunnar Solskjaer tried to implement last summer.

Having conceded his side were too reliant on hitting teams on the break, the Norwegian coach looked to switch things from a 4-2-3-1 to a 4-3-3 with the focus on United controlling possession and, in turn, their own destiny.

Things started well as United blitzed Everton in pre-season with the new-look formation, and they were on red-hot form for the opening match of the season too, as Leeds were dismantled at Old Trafford.

However, as form began to dip, United reverted back to type with the same predictable approach, which was well beyond its expiry date.

Such a demise would eventually cost Solskjaer his job, with Ralf Rangnick the man chosen to steer the ship until the end of the campaign, even if the experienced German would quite like to keep the job himself.

His own reign started with somewhat of a system crisis after failing to adapt to a 4-2-2-2 approach and nearly two months after taking the job, United find themselves back where they started last summer looking to make a 4-3-3 work.

The early signs are very promising, with Fred shining in a more advanced role and Scott McTominay looking good in the deeper one, but there remains a clear need for a defensive-minded addition in order to make the formation a permanent switch.

United already accept that midfield is the ‘biggest problem’ in their squad as they continue preparations for the summer transfer window and, no matter who takes charge, they will be given money to address the issue as a matter of priority.

No matter who the club decides to pursue in the coming months, they will all be tasked with the same objective of not only winning, but winning in an authoritative manner that sees the side control possession.

During Solskjaer’s reign, United had a good record against fellow top sides, although there were some memorable hammerings too, but almost all of these big wins came with his side adopting the identity of underdogs and looking to pick opponents off on the break.

It was very rare to see United dominate proceedings against any other top side, something which will need to happen in the future if they are to not only challenge for the Premier League title but actually come out on top.

While there is still plenty to play for this season, the recent change to a 4-3-3 formation, which Rangnick describes as ‘one holding six, two eights and three offensive players’, can only be good news for the next manager who takes charge at Old Trafford.

Rather than persist with a rather unique 4-2-2-2 set-up which will only be ditched in the summer, it is vital United lay the groundwork now for their future tactical shape and get to grips with the formation that is adopted by so many other elite clubs.

It is also particularly timely given Erik ten Hag guided Ajax to victory over fierce rivals PSV playing in a 4-3-3 at the weekend, while Mauricio Pochettino adopted the same tactic as PSG strolled to a comfortable win over Reims.

United are hoping to appoint their next permanent manager before the end of the season, and their recent formation change certainly appears to cater to the two favourites for the job.

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Rio Ferdinand issues major warning about Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag

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Former centre-back Rio Ferdinand believes it is still too early to judge whether Erik ten Hag is the right man to lead Manchester United back to the top, despite their unquestionable improvement under him this season.

United head into tomorrow’s Manchester derby against City at Old Trafford with the knowledge that a win will lift them to within a point and place of their neighbours in the Premier League table.

The Reds have lost just one of their last 18 matches since being battered 6-3 by City back in October, featuring a current run of eight wins on the bounce.

The Reds, such is the level of progress they have made under Ten Hag this season, are now considered as one of the favourites to qualify for the Champions League for next season.

They have made significant strides in a relatively short space of time and victories over the likes of Arsenal, Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur already this season have proven that they are capable of competing in the upper echelons of the table again.

However, despite heading into the second half of the campaign with form in their sails, Ferdinand insists the jury is still out on Ten Hag, despite him reaching 20 wins as United manager quick than any of his predecessors.

“I think it’s too early to say,” said Ferdinand to the Mirror. “We’ve been here with previous managers when it looks like we are onto something.

“We’ve got to be patient and give the man time. I think all the signs are very positive at the moment. He’s come in and seen what is happening, assessed how things are, looked at individuals and looked at the shape of the team.

“These were a bunch of players that were quite low. They were shot to pieces and he’s had to build, not only footballers, but men back up again. He’s had to build a lot of human beings back up and that takes time.

“The fact he’s now talking about qualifying for the Champions League so positively, he can sense a confidence coming back into this team. There’s a consistency of performance from the team that wasn’t there before and the signals and signs are all very promising.

“But they’re still not where they want to be. City are way ahead of where United are. The distance is a bit closer, but it’s still not anywhere near where we want it to be. There’s still work to be done.”

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Manchester United takeover bids ‘expected imminently’ with serious interest in Club

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Manchester United are expecting takeover offers from across the world as they are set to invite bids ahead of ‘mid-February deadline’.

The Telegraph have reported that the club have received ‘serious interest’ from consortiums based in the Middle East, Asia and the United States.

British billionaire Sir Jim Ratcliffe is also weighing up an offer, as the Glazers hope to the sell one of the biggest clubs in the world for over £5billion.

The report also adds that parties who had been interested in taking over Chelsea, before Todd Boehly’s £4.25bn takeover, are set to return with approaches for the Red Devils.

It’s expected that potential investors will go public with their attempts to buy United in the coming weeks with the clock ‘now ticking on a deal’.

Senior United figures will issue a mid February deadline for formal offers in order to help get get the takeover completed before the end of the season.

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Confirmed: Chelsea ready to make late bid to hijack another Arsenal transfer

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Chelsea will make a late attempt to scupper Arsenal’s hopes of finally signing Mikhailo Mudryk from Shakhtar Donetsk.

The Gunners have submitted their third bid for the Ukraine international winger and hope an offer of £62m before add-ons, which take the deal closer to £70m, will be enough to break the deadlock between the two clubs.

Chelsea’s interest in the 21-year-old winger was earlier this week described only as ‘exploratory’ but ESPN now claim that Todd Boehly will test the waters and attempt to throw a spanner in the works for the Premier League leaders.

Shakhtar’s technical director Darijo Srna was pictured at Stamford Bridge last week as he watched Chelsea’s defeat against Manchester City and Boehly would have little issue with meeting an asking price which is closer to £88million.

Arsenal are said to be confident that their latest bid for Mudryk will be enough to finally secure the services of their No.1 January target, but have already been beaten to the punch once this month by their west London rivals.

Chelsea won the race to sign Joao Felix on loan from Atletico Madrid amid competition from Arsenal and Manchester United, but the Portugal international’s promising debut ended in devastating fashion when he was sent off just shy of the hour mark for a dangerous challenge on Fulham’s Kenny Tete.

Felix will now miss the next three games through suspension as the problems mount for Chelsea’s under-fire manager Graham Potter.

‘It sums up where we are at the moment – everything that can go wrong, is going wrong,’ Potter said after Chelsea’s 2-1 west London derby defeat.

‘It was a forward’s tackle from Joao, there was no malice in it but I understand why it was a red. It is another blow the hits keep coming at the moment.

‘He was really good you could see his quality in the game so it is doubly disappointing for us because he was looking dangerous throughout.

‘I don’t think there was too much malice in it and it is an unfortunate action and we are going to lose him now for three games.’

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