Hull City hosted Manchester United for the first time since Steve Bruce became their manager. He famously never won against Sir Alex Ferguson. People were anticipating to see how the former Manchester United player would do against them now that David Moyes was in charge of the champions. 

The formations

football formations
 Hull City started in a 3-5-2 formation wit El Mohamady and Figueroa playing as wing-backs. Alex Bruce played in the centre of the three-man defence. 

 Manchester United started in a 4-2-3-1 formation. Darren Fletcher started for the first time this season. Ashley Young played in the left attacking midfield role after scoring against West Ham United. 
 Even though Rafael started as the right full-back, he had to be substituted in the 18th minute. Januzaj came on, Antonio Valencia moved into defence. Januzaj played as the right attacking midfielder. 

Hull City's 3-5-2

 The 3-5-2 formation was invented to neutralise teams playing with two forwards. The three central defenders outnumber the two strikers.  However, it is dominated by teams playing with attacking full-backs. The wingers ping back the wing-backs of the 3-5-2, while the full-backs become hard to defend against.
 Hull City had Livermore defending on the right, and Meyler defending on the left against the full-backs. This obviously meant that only one of those full-backs could be marked at any given time, as otherwise Huddlestone would have been on his own against Cleverley and Fletcher. One of the centre-defenders had to step up and mark a full-back, leaving Rooney and Welbeck two against two with the remaining centre-backs. However this kind of tracking requires a lot of cordinated running, and can't be done for ninety minutes.

 Hull City started the game brightly, they have taken the lead in the 4th minute. The corner from which the goal was scored happened after Cleverley lost Livermore in midfield. This allowed James Chester to play a long ball to the midfielder. At the same time Evra didn't track the run of El Mohamady. The resulting corner was headed in by Chester.

 Hull City didn't press Manchester United with the intention of winning the ball high up the pitch, they wanted to give their midfielders and defenders extra seconds to adjust their positions. Sagbo and Graham marked the centre-back in possession and the holder closer to this centre-back in Manchester United's half, while they stepped back to mark the two holders - Cleverley and Fletcher - in Hull City's half.

 The marking of Cleverley and Fletceher combined with the three against two situation Rooney and Welbeck faced forced them to come deep into central midfield. Whenever one of them dropped deeper vertically Alex Bruce dropped with the player, challenging him and preventing him from controlling the ball. It became impossible for Manchester United to play through the middle.

Alex Bruce's tackles.
(Image taken from Squawka.com)
 Instead of dropping deeper vertically, the two forwards made runs into the little areas to the left and right of Hull City's midfield trio. This helped create a triangle on the left side of Hull City featuring Valencia, Januzaj and Rooney. It looked very similar on the right side of Hull City, but with Welbeck, Evra and Young.

United's passes in the first half: They have used the wings to attack.
(Image taken from Squawka.com)

 Hull City's second goal was down to sloppy defending from Manchester United rather than tactical issues. United were in numerical advantage with four players in the back, they should have dealt with the threat of the two attackers. Evans made two sloppy attempts at clearing the ball before it went in. Manchester United lacked sharpness at the beginning of the game.

 Manchester United have got a goal back not long after the second home goal. A diagonal from Cleverley found Valencia, who had plenty of time to play a ball behind the defence to Januzaj. Figueroa was too close to the young winger and had to foul him to prevent a desperate situation. The resulting free-kick was headed home by Smalling.
 Diagonals are an excellent way to expose narrow defences. Meyler had to make a long run towards Valencia before applying any kind of pressure.

 Manchester United's second goal was a moment of individual brilliance from Wayne Rooney. I would like to make the argument that Sagbo should have been more aggressive with Evans, and not let him play the long ball - after all it was an excellent situation for Sagbo to apply pressure - but I don't want to take away from what was a brilliant hit. 

The highlights of the match. Rooney's goal is at 5:34

 To be fair Rooney and Welbeck were left to play two against two against Bruce and Davies as Chester was higher up the pitch marking Young. This was a mistake as the three defenders should be marking territory in the 3-5-2 system. There was no need to push higher when the defence could have been in an advantageous situation with three centre-backs marking two strikers, and the three midfielders marking zones in midfield. 

Second half changes

 Steve Bruce made two changes at half-time. Robert Koren came on for David Meyler. Steve Harper came on for Allan McGregor. The latter was a mandatory change due to an injury. The former was a tactical change. Hull City changed to 5-4-1 formation. Sagbo switched to the left wing, Koren played a bit ahead of Huddlestone in central midfield, while Livermore played on the right wing. 

 This change closed down the spaces that Welbeck and Rooney used in the first half to come deep and get involved in the play. Hull's midfield could cover more space horizontally. Whenever Rooney came deep he was followed by one of the centre-backs, while Huddlestone dropped into the hole in defence. 

 David Moyes took off Darren Fletcher in the 62nd minute, and sent on Javier Hernández. Wayne Rooney dropped into central midfield. Manchester United took full advantage of this change when they took the lead in the 66th minute. Chester headed into his own net. Even though the build-up to the goal involved a mistake from Figueroa - who missed a diagonal from Welbeck - it wouldn't have been scored without Rooney's run from midfield. Tracking runs from midfield is not one of Huddlestone's strong points. He failed to track Rooney's run, which put pressure on Chester. 

 Steve Bruce put on George Boyd in place of Figueroa in the 74th minute in search of an equaliser. This change meant that Hull City made their third tactical switch of the game, moving to a 4-4-2 this time. Manchester United saw off the game by sending on Michael Carrick. 

 Hull had multiple chances from set pieces in front of Manchester United's goal. Even though it was as impressive win, Manchester United need to improve defending set pieces.


 Hull City took two early chances, but Manchester United came back into the game by taking advantage of the wingerless formation of Hull City. Steve Bruce made a good tactical change at half time.

  David Moyes must be given credit for sending on Hernández instead of Carrick when Fletcher had to be taken off. It would have been the like-for-like substitution, and an easy one to make. He went for the bold, attacking switch instead, and reaped the benefits.


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