The false-nine-toting 3-4-3 in which Brendan Rodgers sent out his Liverpool side at Old Trafford was described in some quarters as ‘a managerial suicide note’.
Yet it was merely the latest in a kaleidoscopic selection of formations the Northern Irishman has used during his time at Anfield – five have been seen in 2014/15 alone.
Returning to the 4-2-3-1 that has earned the Merseysiders five wins and two draws in the eight games it has been employed (according to whoscored.com) may seem like the obvious manoeuvre.
However, given Rodgers’ track record as a tactical chameleon that merely makes it less likely to happen, with the following trio of tweaks sure to be seen in the coming weeks as he tries to shrug off 3/1 sack race second-favouritism.
Playing himself alongside Steven Gerrard at centre-half.
The skipper’s defensive nous is clear for all to see after a season and a bit in deep-midfield, yet Rodgers had called it back in November 2013, telling the BBC:
“I look at Steven and I think he can play as a number two centre-half later in his career.
“You play against teams where they’ve got one up [front] and I think he can play as a right-sided centre-half.”
It’s a move that may be closer than expected with the demands of life in midfield taking their toll on the veteran and the concessions continuing to mount up.
Who better to talk Gerrard through his early games in the role than the 5ft 6in former Ballymena United defender and architect of Liverpool’s defensive philosophy?
Maxing out on leaden-footed target men.
Having made the bold decision to replace Luis Suarez with a series of less than sprightly centre-forwards it’s only a matter of time until the small, speedy and skilful attack of 2013/14 has been completely replaced by number nines.
Wilfried Bony is being linked with an Anfield switch in January and he is included here, with Daniel Sturridge shunted out to the wing in order to minimise pace in the centre.
Playing two full-backs on each side.
Rodgers is blessed with an embarrassment of riches when it comes to forward-thinking wide defencemen.
Unfortunately their inclinations mean they can be caught equally red-faced when the ball is mislaid while they’re Forrest Gumping up the flanks.
Double-dosing would provide vast amounts of width along with the combined defensive diligence of at least one Andre Santos one each wing.