A Big Question: What formation will Frank De Boer have his team play?
This is obviously not the big question for Atlanta United, who are currently sitting on four DPs (even though Pity Martinez hasn't been announced yet... c'mon, we know it's happening). But it's one I've been thinking about a lot since the Dutchman was announced as Tata Martino's successor.
Martino proved, over his two years, to be flexible with regard to both his tactical approach – high pressing to possession to sit-and-counter – and his formation – 4-2-3-1 to 4-3-3 to 3-4-1-2 to 5-3-2 – which obviously served the Five Stripes well. He didn't make a lot of in-game adjustments, but on a longer timeline, when he tried a new thing and stuck with it he tended to succeed.
De Boer has had more mixed success when he's tried to mix-and-match. At Crystal Palace it was a 3-6-1, while at Inter it was a lot of 4-2-3-1. Neither of those journeys ended well, though I'd argue both provided too limited a sample size to be super-valuable indicators of what FDB can or can't do.
The sample size and results were obviously much different at Ajax, where he won four titles in six seasons. And something like 90 percent of those games saw Ajax come out in a 4-3-3.
It feels like this is the immediate future for Atlanta, and it feels like the personnel they have – I'm assuming a Pity - Josef - Villalba frontline – lends itself to that lineup fairly well (though not perfectly). And the midfield and backline kind of pick themselves.
It seems straight-forward: This will be a 4-3-3 team. But things aren't always what they seem, are they?