Reports have come to light that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and his coaching staff disagreed on the formation to use during his tenure at the club with the Norwegian insisting on using his customary 4-2-3-1 formation.
It was reported that the backroom staff – made up of Michael Carrick, Mike Phelan, and Kieran McKenna – advocated for a more defensive 3-5-2 formation before the 5-0 loss to Liverpool.
Solskjaer used the 4-2-3-1 formation to great effect last season, finishing second on the Premier League table. Though with the arrival of Raphael Varane, Jadon Sancho, and Cristiano Ronaldo, the Norwegian wanted to transition to a more expansive 4-3-3 formation.
However, poor results starting with the 1-0 loss to Aston Villa in late September made the former manager stick to his tested 4-2-3-1 formation despite the advice from his coaching staff. According to Manchester Evening News, Carrick & Co. believed that a switch to 3-5-2 would help United to shore up a porous defense.
In the aftermath of the 5-0 humiliation to Liverpool, Solskjaer was forced to use the 3-5-2 formation. He used a three-man central defense in the games against Tottenham, Atlanta, and Manchester City. His side won against Tottenham, drew with Atlanta, and lost to City.
However, United was forced back to the 4-2-3-1 formation when Raphael Varane went off injured during the match against Atlanta. Carrick also deployed a 4-2-3-1 formation in his first game as the temporary manager, pairing Harry Maguire and Victor Lindelof as his choice center-backs.