Phil Jones has explained how Manchester United have adapted to Jose Mourinho’s tactical switch to playing three at the back over the last few weeks, noting that such a transition has been aided by the fight within the squad.
Mourinho first introduced the new system ahead of Man United’s 1-1 draw with FC Rostov in the Europa League, prompting many into thinking that the 54-year-old was preparing his side ahead of their FA Cup clash with Chelsea.
However, the Portuguese continued to use the system for wins over Rostov and Middlesbrough last week, and has seen his side concede just three goals in four games.
And Jones, speaking earlier this week, noted that the side has quickly adapted to Mourinho’s new system over the last week.
“We have worked on it [back-three tactics] so it is not at all that difficult,” he said.
“It is all about a willingness to win and fight for each other.
“Whatever formation we play or the tactics we play ultimately it is about the fight in every player and we are showing that at the moment.”
You could see, perhaps for the first full time in earnest, this new three-at-the-back system bearing fruit against Middlesbrough. The presence of Antonio Valencia and Ashley Young further up the pitch gave United a stronger foothold higher up the pitch, essentially forcing the home side to play in their own half whilst allowing the likes of Jesse Lingard and Juan Mata, freed of constant marking from opposition full-backs, to cut inside and exploit the space between midfield and defence.
Slow build up is anathema for any side in the Premier League, but this new approach gives Mourinho’s men a chance to break into the opponent’s half in far more direct fashion.