Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal’s decision to go with a three-man backline will come good now with star players fit again, but they still need a “quality” defender to make the most of the system, according to former England manager Glenn Hoddle.
The Dutchman implemented his 3-4-1-2 set-up upon taking control of the Red Devils over the summer, and after a brief switch back to a four-man rearguard he’s once again been using the system adopted so successfully by the ex-Three Lions boss during the late ‘90s.
Hoddle, now a coach at QPR, used the rarely deployed formation during the 1998 World Cup, getting the best out of players such as Michael Owen, David Beckham and Sol Campbell before suffering elimination, via a penalty shoot-out, at the hands of Argentina.
A host of Premier League sides are now using the once again fashionable layout – including Liverpool – while European teams have been enjoying great success with it for some time.
United are, perhaps, the most famous English example of the three man defensive set-up with wing-backs right now, and Hoddle feels that LVG’s side will improve now they have the likes of Marcos Rojo, Chris Smalling and Phil Jones fully fit, but that only a “quality central defender” will move them on to the next level:
“I think United have a real chance with the system now that they their main defenders back,” he told Zapsportz.com. “They’ve been struggling with players missing but now they have got Marcos Rojo, Chris Smalling and Phil Jones back and playing that will help.
“But I think have to sign someone else, bring in another quality central defender, before they really excel.
“They need that type of player to get the best out of three-at-the-back,” he says. “They need someone who is really comfortable on the ball.”