Arsenal legend Martin Keown has advised Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal not to revert to the three-man defence.
The Dutchman started the season with three defenders in a 3-5-2 formation, but he eventually changed it a four-man back-line after realising that it was not working.
However, against Southampton at St. Mary’s Stadium in the Premier League on Monday, Van Gaal went back to the three-man defence system.
Keown, a former Arsenal defender, believes that Van Gaal should play with four defenders against Liverpool at Old Trafford on Sunday.
“In United’s case Loius van Gaal seems determined to go back to a back three and I do not get it,” the 48-year-old wrote in The Daily Mail. “My respect has grown for him but it’s quickly being lost again after the game at Southampton.
"He reverted back to the system that was not working for him before, which I do not understand. It was the system that was the problem rather than the individuals. It’s been a problem every time they play it.”
While it remains to be seen whether United will play with a three-man defence on Sunday, it is guaranteed that Liverpool will have four defenders in their starting line-up.
Keown prefers the back-four system and wrote: “I do think United have the better defenders but they can never get them together for long enough… At Liverpool I prefer their system but it’s the individuals in it who are struggling.”
Perhaps the problem with Van Gaal is that he has not yet realised that the Premier League is not tactically advanced enough to accommodate players who can play in a three-man defence.
Former Manchester United defender Nemanja Vidic, who established himself as one of the best centre-backs in the Premier League, struggled to adapt to Walter Mazzarri’s three-man defence at Inter Milan - and that tells volumes.
At this stage of the season, United need to pick up points to consolidate their place in the top four. Going back to a system that has not yielded results would be a mistake for Van Gaal.