Gary Neville: What happens when Manchester United use a back four

Old Trafford 3

Former Manchester United defender Gary Neville has explained what happens when the side uses a back four.

Former Manchester United defender Gary Neville explained on Monday Night Football for Sky Sports what happens when the current side switch to a back four.

United boss Louis van Gaal had to endure ‘4-4-2’ chants over the weekend, which questioned his normal 3-5-2 system, which he started the season with at Old Trafford.

Neville suggested that he sympathised with fans because he feels the team looks more attacking with a back four.

“When they play this system (a back four) they look more dangerous – The balls forward move quicker and the decisive passes from Mata and Rooney become more frequent,” said Neville.

Van Gaal recently defended his tactics, with the Manchester Evening News quoting him as saying he can’t listen to the opinions of 600 million United supporters all over the world.

His 3-5-2 is understandable because it allows United to pack central midfield as well as utilising wide areas, with full-backs who can drop off and make a long defensive line when the side is under pressure.

It’s also understandable why there is criticism of 3-5-2 in terms of the defensive system because the centre backs become exposed when the full-backs are caught higher up the pitch.

A more conventional 4-4-2 is reliable and allows the boss the luxury of playing a midfield diamond or going with a more conventional midfield line to create two banks of four.

Van Gaal will always defend his 3-5-2 system because he’s had great success with it, but if a back four makes United more dangerous, surely it’s worth considering as the main long term tactic.

Register for MANCHESTER UNITED team updates

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch