Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is pleased with how the Manchester United players are adjusting to his tactical demands and claims United started in his favoured 4-2-3-1 formation in the draw with City.
However, Solskjaer corrected a reporter who suggested United had reverted to a diamond against City, having lined up with a back three in their previous game at RB Leipzig.
Sheffield United play with a defensive tilt and Solskjaer matched their formation at Bramall Lane last year but The Blades are winless and at the foot of the Premier League table after 12 games.
“What was the change in formation?” Solskjaer asked. “It was a 4-2-3-1 and coming into that pocket is probably Paul’s favourite position.
“I think Paul did well, the team’s shape was as it normally is. I think twice we’ve played with three at the back; we beat PSG in one of them and unfortunately lost to Leipzig.
“We played a full game against Leipzig at home with a diamond, we played two half games in a diamond, so four out of about 20 games isn’t too bad for consistency with our normal shape. That’s what we work on, more or less, every day.
“Some details will change within the same system, of course. If you have Dan James on the left wing compared to Paul Pogba, it’s a different scenario. Or Marcus Rashford on the right wing compared to Juan Mata.
“So sometimes you look at the opposition and where we need players with different qualities. And they’re coping well with it.”
United do not have a free midweek until the week beginning January 4 – unless they reach the semi-finals of the Carabao Cup – and are guaranteed to play at least six games next month.
Championship side Watford travel to Old Trafford in the third round of the FA Cup on January 9 and the fourth round ties take place two weeks later.
Premier League strugglers West Brom secured a point at City on Tuesday night in another unusual top-flight result but sacked former coach Slaven Bilic on Wednesday morning. Solskjaer believes more surprising scorelines are inevitable this season with free midweeks so scarce.
“I think it’s also a sign of the Premier League, the quality of the so-called lesser teams,” Solskjaer opined. “There’s no easy game in the Premier League.
“Then again, the top teams the last few seasons, have just had a knack of winning tight games instead of drawing them.
“With the tight schedule, with whatever is happening around the world, and peoples’ lives and players’ lives, I think we will see this throughout the season.
“Whoever gets a midweek rest might get a big advantage, if you play midweek every week it’s hard to have everyone 100% sharp.”