Home » 13 Days to Fix Manchester United: Day 13 – Theory into Action

13 Days to Fix Manchester United: Day 13 – Theory into Action

by Darragh Fox

This series of articles started when there were 13 days until Manchester United’s next game against Brighton at Old Trafford.

13 days to make the necessary adjustments to remedy a poor start. 13 days to implement tactical changes which will improve the team’s performance. 13 days to regain and rally the spirit which was carefully cultivated last season.

13 days to fix United’s season essentially.

Over these 13 days, The Peoples Person team are looking at 13 areas United can look to improve upon before their next Premier League fixture. An article a day until Erik ten Hag’s issues have drifted away.

Today marks the end of the near-two week period United have had to prepare for Brighton. Ten Hag’s side will take to the field at Old Trafford at 3pm, looking to continue the club’s unrivalled record at home.

Now is the time to put the ideas discussed over the past two weeks in these articles into action; to put theory into practice.

A Recap

The Peoples Person have explored a wide range of topics during the international break.

Individual improvements are needed first and foremost.

Casemiro, Marcus Rashford, Lisandro Martinez and Harry Maguire have been analysed with a variety of suggestions for how these key players (minus big H) can regain the imperious form they displayed last season.

The introduction of talented youngsters – mainly the rapidly emerging Kobbie Mainoo, as well as Amad Diallo – must also continue over the coming weeks. United has always prided itself as a home for young players to flourish and there are a number within the squad at present capable of stepping up and contributing now.

Collective improvements are also integral however.

A more ruthless forward line is needed, as well as boosts to the team’s ability on the ball and the intensity with which they start games. Ten Hag will need all three to combat a talented Brighton side today.

The Line-Up

The most important area for the manager to implement these improvements in is the line-up.

Casemiro requires additional help in a midfield in desperate need of buttressing. Sofyan Amrabat is not yet available and so the Dutch manager must make the choice between Christian Erisken and Scott McTominay, with Mason Mount still ruled out with injury.

McTominay has been in fantastic form for his national side and offers a level of physicality Eriksen is incapable of. Similarly, the Dane provides technique and ball-progression the Scot can only dream of.

Against a side as talented on the ball as Brighton, Ten Hag should opt for McTominay.

Playing next to a defensive behemoth such as Casemiro will enable McTominay to push forward in a similar vein to his fruitful freedom for Scotland. This will prove key to disrupting Brighton’s metronomic midfield.

If Martinez is fit, he must be instructed to take more responsibility for progressing the ball from deep. Without Eriksen, United will be lacking this trait in midfield; the Argentine defender must fill this void and regain the bravery and proficiency with the ball he demonstrated last season.

The key choice, however, comes on the right-wing.

With Antony and Sancho both ruled out for differing reasons, Ten Hag must select Facundo Pellistri on the right. The benefits of this choice are explained in detail here, but it’s key to allowing Rashford and Bruno Fernandes to continue operating in their optimal positions.

The remainder of the team largely picks itself given the number of players currently unavailable at present.

The Starting XI Ten Hag must pick


Wan-Bisska  Lindelof  Martinez  Dalot 

McTominay  Casemiro 

Pellistri        Fernandes     Rashford 


The Tactics

By playing United’s two best attackers in their two best positions, supplemented by the addition of the exciting Rasmus Højlund, Ten Hag should see an improvement in his side’s ruthlessness in front of goal.

Key to this, however, will be a fast start.

United must attack this game from the off.

Brighton cannot be allowed to settle into a comfortable rhythm in possession. A potent press will be crucial; one which will be helped by physically imposing players such as Højlund and McTominay, or rapid wingers in the mould of Rashford and Pellistri.

If United can score an early goal, the confidence will lift and Old Trafford will erupt in a cacophany of supportive noise. A fast start will turn the United faithful into the 12th man Ten Hag desperately needs them to be following a shaky start to the season.

The ability to retain possession will also prove key. United can control Brighton if they control the ball, starving the Seagulls of any morsels of bread they may wish to feast on.

It will also force the opposition to attack in greater numbers if they are subject to an early deficit. This will make United’s devastating counter-attack all the more deadly, as the forwards will enjoy an abundance of space to attack.

CONCLUSION – It’s time to put theory into action. The saving of United’s season begins at 3pm. 

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