Gary Neville: Jose Mourinho still needs to figure out his best attack at Manchester United

by Leo Nieboer

Gary Neville believes that Jose Mourinho still needs to figure out his best attacking formula at Manchester United.

The 55-year-old made it clear following the arrival of Alexis Sanchez that he was happy with his attacking options at Old Trafford and would instead place emphasis on revitalising his midfield.

However, the arrival of Sanchez has raised more questions than answers so far, with Anthony Martial playing on the right and Marcus Rashford‘s lack of minutes a concern amongst many supporters.

And Neville, speaking earlier this week, has encouraged Mourinho to find a way of accommodating his attacking options in a balanced lineup.

“They [Martial, Rashford and Lingard] are getting games, they’re just not going to play every single week and I would expect Manchester United players to be challenging for places all the time,” he said.

“The problem for Jose Mourinho at the moment is how you get Romelu Lukaku, Rashford, Martial and Sanchez into a front combination that works together.

“That’s the big question at the moment, who plays on the right? Martial’s been out there, we’ve seen Sanchez out there in a couple of games, and neither of them are ideal out there. They’d all probably prefer to play centre forward, Rashford, Martial, Sanchez and obviously Lukaku.

“So at the moment it’s how they fit into a front three which is the most interesting thing, not which one plays. They have to show they can play together.”

Mourinho recently declared flatly that Sanchez, Martial, Rashford, Jesse Lingard, Juan Mata and Romelu Lukaku comprised to give him a complete attacking arsenal – all bases covered, no need for any further investment.

And so the task that now faces him – and has been since the start of the season – revolves around exactly how he fits these players into a coherent attacking lineup.

There are no easy answers. Many supporters, like Neville, have advocated the idea of Lukaku, Rashford, Martial and Sanchez as a front four, presumably with the latter in the No.10 role, yet that excludes the often vital deftness and control need to sustain movements offered by Mata, or the penetrative runs in behind and important goals offered by Lingard.

And yet, at the same time, having the latter pair in the side at the expense of Rashford or Martial strips United of a crucial yard of speed out wide – the ability to stretch a team, as seen in glowing terms in Sevilla.

Many are understandably crying out for an agreed attacking trio or quartet as a means of fostering chemistry, a sense of consistency. But this doesn’t appear likely to happen: Mourinho has always been a reactionary – rather than visionary – manager, choosing the players he believes best suited to specific opponents and situations on a week by week basis.

In this sense, the overspill of attacking players at United and argument over who starts where is not, you sense, such a big issue for the 55-year-old.

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