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Man Utd - Strikerless (or Otherwise)

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Hi all, this is my first time posting here. Hope my post is not out of place. I need some help with my Man Utd team. I have an online game with two friends (one using Liverpool - dominating; the other using Man City - big spender but struggling). My Man Utd does ok but not spectacularly. Twice came 2nd in league. No silverware so far. My Liverpool friend is using Knap's Venom & Faith (4-1-2-1-2 diamond wide) and his strikers (Fati, Haaland, Salah) are scoring for fun. I have had some success initially using also Venom & Faith but I have decided not to use the same formation as my friend (he has far better players), want to try to build a formation myself (rather than a plug-in), and utilize the strength of my team (which is in central midfield).

I would be very grateful if someone can guide me through my troubled times. I first set out my key players:

Strikers (Forwards): Greenwood, Demir, Joao Pedro

Midfielders: Bruno Fernandes, Camavinga, Pogba, Kessie, Van de Beek (I also have CR7)

Wing Backs: Telles, Wan Bissaka, Menino, Williams

I do not know how to post a screencap but what I have in mind is this:

         SS(a) - AP(s) - SS(a)

               RPM - BBM


WB(s) - BPD(d) - CD(d) - WB(s)


My first concern is the lack of protection for the flanks. I have tried to use CAR or MEZ for the two central midfielders to create some width but with not much success and in any case this formation is supposed to go vertical rather than sideways. My second concern is I am not sure about the team instructions. At the moment I am on positive mentality, normal width, play out of defence, slightly short passing, standard tempo, and work into box. Since using three upfront is supposed to create more space in the defence final third, should I use pass into space, run into defence and/or more direct passing? Also, any ideas about LOE and DL? At the moment I have both at standard.

One alternative I have in mind is:

         SS(a) - AP(s) - SS(a)

     WM(s) - BWM(s) - WM(s)


IWB(s) - CD(d) - CD(d) - IWB(s)


This created some width in the midfield line but would in some way waste my midfield talents (I can play Pogba on the left but there is no real right midfielders - perhaps except Coman).

A final twist is this:

        SS(a) - AP(s) - SS(a)

             DLP(s) - BBM

WB(a) --------------------- WB(s)

    BPD(d) - CD(d) - BPD(d)


I have fairly good central defenders (Skriniar, Konte, Koulibaly, Ahmedhodzic) and they can form a reliable back three, but I always feel slightly uncomfortable not playing a holding DM to protect the defence (especially when my Liverpool friend is playing AMC).

Any suggestions? Many many thanks ...

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Btw I have tried 4-3-3 (IF-CF-W up front) and 4-2-3-1 before but not much success. I have a feeling (may be wrong) that lone strikers do not work too well in this ME. In any case I do not have anyone suitable to play alone upfront (except CR7 whom I can play as TM or even P). Greenwood is a good striker but does not really have the physical built to resist two central defenders on his own.

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One of the guys over in the Manchester United thread in gptg was experimenting with this and did really well, so might be worth it to have a look

Have never done 100% strikerless on fm (only lone striker dropping deep), so can't really offer good advice myself 

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Might be worth having a look at Guido's site that specialises in strikerless tactics at strikerless.com.  There's 3 articles titled "I play it my way" that detail the tactic he's using for FM21 and is well worth the read.

In the articles he shows 3 variations one of which isn't far from what you're playing now:

         SS-a  AP-a  SS-a

        BWM-s  BWM-s


WB-s  CD-d  CD-d  WB-s


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