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Scouting report: Manchester United | Stats & In Depth Tactical Analysis

This week Martin Lewis has a scouting report on Manchester United. This will not only be interesting for Manchester City supporters but also Manchester United supporters before the big game on Saturday. In fact supporters of any club that are yet to play Manchester United this season will find this in-depth tactical and statistical analysis a welcome read.

With United flying high in the league and no other competitions distracting them – they will be motivated to wrap up the title early with a victory against their rivals. You’d probably not bet against Manchester United especially after they’d already beaten City earlier this season at the Etihad.

You can find Martin Lewis’ tactical report on Manchester City here: Manchester City Scouting Report – written in early March 2013.

[quote]N.B. Please note that this is not an article – the purpose of this report is just that for it to seem like a Scouting Report please take it in such a way.[/quote]

Initial information:

Screen shot 2013-04-05 at 19.39.41

  • Team on an amazing run of results in the league and will hope to continue their run.
  • The last time the failed to win a league game was on the 20th of January and their last defeat in the league was on the 17th of November!
  • Always motivated and play with a high intensity in the Manchester derby, expect a big reaction [especially early on] after being knocked out of the F.A. cup by Chelsea, leaving the league the only trophy they can win this season.
  • They will also be looking to break the total points in a season record  since the start up of the Premier League.
  • The team are fantastic at scoring late on in a game when they are not winning & nearly impossible to contain when they get  into their rhythm, especially around creation areas.

Screen shot 2013-04-05 at 00.32.25

Injury news:

Expect all players bar Fletcher to be back.

Screen shot 2013-04-04 at 16.14.04
Injury news via physioroom.com

Offensive organisation:

  • Team set up in 4x4x1x1 &  look to play with initiative and control of the game.Screen shot 2013-04-05 at 00.35.19
  • Keep rhythm and tempo high, with quick changes in tempo and behaviour form horizontal circulation to vertical penetration.
  • In short build up from De Gea (good with feet) the centre backs split (not to the full width of the pitch) Carrick will drop in between & the fullbacks will push up high and wide to create a big and open field. This horizontal circulation is in low and deep areas to draw the opposition towards them to create bigger spaces between their lines as well as causing them to lose alignment.
  • More initiative and progression and with space from Ferdinand.
  • Carrick has excellent passing range, organisation play (offensively and defensively) + ability and vision to penetrate vertically into depth & in between lines.
  • After short build up phase, there will always be one fullback high and wide, allowing the winger to come in between lines to receive the ball at feet. This allows them to overload players in between lines to draw the opposition’s defensive line too high, allowing a quick vertical ball over to top into the depth or quick 1-2 combinations in between lines to penetrate.
  • Long build up from De Gea will either go to fullback (with centre backs deep and split) or the defenders will push up high to win the second ball from Van Persie.
  • Rotation between strikers/wingers/central midfielders in wide areas.
  • Diagonals from central midfielders/centre backs to the right.
  • High intensity in creation areas, with overloads in the box and penetration from crosses. Also very good at keeping the ball alive and in possession in creation areas, forcing the opposition to drop deep and force them to play long.
  • Van Persie on poor run of goalscoring form & will be fully motivated to score, although maybe a little under confident (may go for power rather than place shots).
  • Fantastic movement from Van Persie in creation areas and in the box, either makes first time run then checks and continues or changes direction. He is also comfortable at receiving the ball to head, feet, run onto and to chest. Quality lay offs.

Team dynamics:

2013-04-05 23.31.37

Defensive organisation:Screen shot 2013-04-05 at 00.35.03

  • Team defend in a 4x4x2 medium wide block, with centre backs deep ready to push up to play offside, drop or to press players in between lines so back to goal.
  • Central midfielders follow players running from the middle behind the fullback.
  • Pressure from behind from Rooney.
  • Fullbacks spacing when defending 1v1 very good.
  • Space between lines if they are drawn away from goal in medium block.
  • In pressing the central midfielders will often be high & wingers will be deeper and tucked inside a little.
  • Team will become low block and tight with progression from the opposition, with no space between lines. Good intensity on the ball as well as zonal cover.
  • Struggle to deal with players with mobility from central midfield breaking lines, especially in transitions.
  • Space behind fullbacks to exploit, which will then draw the centre back out wide (Carrick will then become a centre back) where we can then overload in and on the edge of the box.
  • Kagawa has poor defensive transitions and often loses his man, especially when the fullback under-laps.
  • Rooney also has the same problems out wide, reacts to his man receiving the ball rather than getting into a good position early.
  • Evans can sometimes be a little deep with his alignment [usually when Evra is high or draw between lines competing for the ball] which allows diagonal balls over the top of Ferdinand in the box.


Defending in a medium block:

2013-04-05 23.13.32


Offensive transitions:

  • Quick, aggressive and high intensity in transition, but also keep good defensive balance.
  • Usually have good numerical numbers in transition, with quick horizontal switches of play to cause the opposition to lose defensive alignment.
  • Deadly in transitions from defensive set plays, important to remain balanced.
  • Quick transitions from De Gea.

Screen shot 2013-04-05 at 00.32.39


Defensive transitions:

  • Strong reaction to the area of the ball with initial pressing.
  • Carrick often becomes a 3rd centre back to allow cover.
  • Can be exposed to overlaps on their left hand side, as well as overlapping and under-lapping.
  • Struggle against mobile central midfielders breaking lines in transition.
  • Double exposure on the left when Evra is high.

 2013-04-05 23.19.22


Set plays

Offensive corners:

  • Very good at keeping the ball alive  by having numbers around the box to win the second ball.

2013-04-05 23.06.13

Defensive corners:

One on second post, Van Persie in the zone in front of the first post (aggressive and attacks the ball, will drop to first post if the ball goes over him) and the rest man mark. De Gea can be a little indecisive at times, but will stay on the line when possible. One player on the edge of box and one upfront.

2013-04-05 22.36.56


Pattern & combination play

Short build up shape:

2013-04-05 21.55.47


Short build up:

2013-04-05 21.59.21


Long build up quick with short build up shape:

2013-04-05 22.02.37


Long build up:

2013-04-05 22.03.30


Dynamics of the left:

Kagawa coming inside in between lines then either Evra overlap or Cleverly/Rooney/Van Persie move wide.

2013-04-05 22.09.15


Dynamics of the right:

Valencia progressing with the ball, either Rafael overlaps or Rooney/Van Persie move wide.

2013-04-05 22.10.30


Rotation of positions:

2013-04-05 21.50.22


Other observations:


Nani will be more direct and will take fullback on 1v1/1v2. Has the capacity to play as a pure winger or come inside and act as second striker [usually on the left]. Usually has poor defensive transitions[overload and overlap].

 2013-04-05 22.18.49



Extremely mobile  and hard working offensively and defensively. Tracks his man well if used wide or can be used to man mark a central midfielder effectively if used as a striker. Threat on the counter attack.


A box player with fantastic movement in the box for Hernandez, with very quick sort movements that are hard to contain as he will make 2/3 quick movements then attack. Anticipates well, natural finisher and is extremely difficult to contain. Always on the last shoulder of the defender looking for through balls, can drop deep in between lines to receive at feet the lay off in build up.


Pure winger that can produce quality crosses. Similar movements to Nani but looks to curl shot rater than hit it with power. Dangerous with both feet & effective in transitions. Tracks his man well defensively.

 2013-04-05 22.25.56

bwin bets

1st goal to van Persie: 6.50
Rooney to score 1st:  7.00
More than 3.5 goals: 2.90
3-2 to MUFC: 21.00
3-2 to MCFC: 26.00


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All of the stats from this article have been taken from the Opta Stats Centre at EPLIndex.com – Subscribe Now (Includes author privileges!) Check out our new Top Stats feature on the Stats Centre which allows you to compare all players in the league & read about new additions to the stats centre.[/box_light]

You don't learn the piano by running around it! Follow me on twitter: @martinlewis94 You can also subscribe to my blog for non premier league reports: http://martinlewis94.blogspot.co.uk/
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