Jose Mourinho started out this season with a 4-2-3-1 formation but after the humiliation against Manchester City switched to the 4-3-3. For sometime, the 4-3-3 worked well, Paul Pogba had a more advanced role and finally it seemed like the Frenchman will fulfill the high expectations placed on him. But Mourinho experimented with a 4-2-3-1 again in the game against Leicester with Mkhitaryan in the hole. United won the game comfortably and Mourinho chose to retain the 4-2-3-1 against Watford and United turned in one of their best attacking performances of the season as they won 2-0. The 4-2-3-1 seems to get the best out of Mkhitaryan as the number 10. Zlatan’s tendency to drop deep allows the Armenian to push forward and his pace pushes the defence deeper giving United’s attackers the time and space to operate.
The 4-2-3-1 seems to be the perfect solution for all of United’s attacking problems bar one, Paul Pogba. Pogba earlier in the season struggled when played in the double pivot. This deeper role limits Pogba’s attacking capabilities and also entrusts far more defensive responsibility than he likes. In the game against Manchester City, Pogba’s defensive lapses came to the fore as De Bruyne enjoyed his freedom from any opposing United player and ripped apart United’s defence.
Fitting Paul Pogba into the first team is a big big problem for Jose Mourinho at the moment. Pogba at the moment looks off-color and even playing him in an advanced role in a 4-3-3 looks like it won’t solve the problem. It’s better for Manchester United that Mourinho chooses to build the team around Henrikh Mkhitaryan and play him in his preferred position as the number 10.