Cristiano Ronaldo's move to Manchester United has the Red Devil fans elated. It seemed like his move to City was close, but United got the Portuguese superstar instead.
Ronaldo's game has changed a little since he was last at Old Trafford, but that's not to say he's still not a fantastic player. He's become more of a creative player, he still loves to take long shots, but he spends more time on the ball now, which can be a positive for his role at United. Undoubtedly the players will be excited too, and Ronaldo could be a great mentor for some excellent prospects like Mason Greenwood.
In today's tactical analysis, we'll look at Ole's tactics, where Cristiano Ronaldo may fit in, and what he could bring tactically.
The 4-2-3-1 can be adaptable to suit many different situations on the pitch, and that's precisely how Ole utilises his 4-2-3-1. When Ole has United pressing high in defensive situations, they tend to transition into a 4-4-2 with Bruno Fernandes pressing from his midfield position. But United will revert to their 4-2-3-1 after a lengthy spell out of possession.
Similar to attack. With United's attack in full swing, both full-backs would be high and wide, leaving the defensive unit giving United a 2-4-4 shape.
It is rumoured that Ole may experiment with the 4-3-3 at some point, but with Cristiano Ronaldo joining, he may stick with something more familiar. And there's also been questions about whether any of the current midfielders could play the single-pivot role.
United's wingers will look to invert and take up half-spaces during the build-up stages, allowing either full-back to push high and wide. Looking at Bruno Fernandes heatmap, he floats around the pitch rather than remaining in his position, and this also applies during the build-up. He'll also drop deep to be involved in the earlier stages of building before making a forward run.
United's striker doesn't tend to play a huge role when they're building up to their creation phase, but against Leeds and their tight marking system, the attackers tended to rotate and interchange to create gaps which meant at times, we saw Greenwood dropping deep to drag his marker to allow a runner Fernandes run into the space.
If Ronaldo plays up top, we don't expect to see him heavily involved in play till the ball has been worked into the creation phase, then we may see Ronaldo come alive.
On the counter-attack, Machester United are efficient. This is a game plan and one that can work for Ronaldo too. Though it's not expected of him to drop too deep to link up, Ronaldo does like the ball played to feet where he can play a quick 1-2 before darting off, or he can have the ball played into his path where he has space to run towards goal with the ball. He's pretty good in front of goal too, and United can now be even more deadly on their counters.
Luke Shaw's form could also be vital in getting the ball into Ronaldo inside the box. Manchester United tend to focus more down left, with Luke Shaw being the more adventurous full-back. Luke Shaw created 3.76 shot-creating actions per 90 for Manchester United last season, with only Fernandes creating more. He also attempted the most crosses per 90 with 3.12, and if he can play a part in feeding Ronaldo inside the box, this could be a huge positive for Manchester United.
The two Portuguese attackers, Bruno Fernandes and Cristiano Ronaldo, could link up well too. Not only was Bruno good in front of goal last season, but he was also very creative in creating shot-actions where he created the most in the Premier League with 168. So, there shouldn't be too many creative issues. With Ronaldo liking the ball played to feet at times, this can occupy a central defender whilst Fernandes runs off him. And Ronaldo's presence inside the box gives Fernandes an excellent target to aim for when creating a chance inside the box.
But the real question is, who now takes the penalty kicks?
Out of Possession
When pressing from the front, United's shape could form a 4-4-2 formation with Bruno Fernandes pushing high to pressure the opponent's central defender. It's doubtful Ronaldo would have a great responsibility in pressing but with Bruno's high energy, the 4-4-2 shape may allow United to press high on the occasions they want to.
In United's opening game against Leeds, their press was set up very well. Their press was man orientated, which aided to their counter-attacks. Here, when Bamford receives the ball, his options are minimal, and If United steal the ball, they too are set up well for the counter-attack.
As the Mastermind site analysed last season. When United press, they'd often look to trap their opposition on the left. The average position of their right-winger was more narrow and central, one indication of this left-sided desire. This allows United to have left-sided players + Bruno firing together as a tandem trio once the Red Devils win the ball.
They used the touchline well too. Once forcing opponents out wide, the near sided winger, central midfielder and fullback will often form a quartet with Bruno Fernandes to win the ball back and stop their opposition from playing out.
As we may all expect, Ronaldo wouldn't have much of a defensive responsibility, but he can position himself well off the ball so that when United do win the ball, he's in a great attacking position to be an outlet during United's counter.