tactical diversion In short, SAF's teams were always more tactically diverse (and interesting) than the pigeon-holing of his teams as direct and broadly 4-4-2 in shape
Answer by Greg Gordon:
Sir Alex Ferguson's sides were always distinctly 'Scottish' in temperament – regardless of the personnel, regardless of the club and regardless of the context of the games being played.His teams always played to win, to pass the ball, to impose their football, to play a Scottish attacking style. His teams were aggressive, dominant and resilient, never giving up, regardless of the game situation. This was a brand of football that was local and global in tone – a refraction of Real Madrid and the 1960 European Cup Final at Hampden, of The Old Firm in Glasgow, of his mentor Jock Stein and The Lisbon Lions, of the Scottish scout John Barr of Leeds United who visited him at Love Street as a young manager at St Mirren and told him all about Don Revie's innovations at Elland Road. This shaped his view that the manager should control every aspect of club culture.Though the philosophy remained the same, Sir Alex's teams were tactically very versatile in terms of shape. Sir Alex Ferguson has used a variety of formations – 4-3-3, 4-4-2, 4-5-1, 4-2-3-1, 4-4-1-1 – and even a 4-6-0 against Greenock Morton at Cappielow while manager of Aberdeen around 1985. That probably 27 years or so ahead of that formation gaining prominence with Spain in 2012 and over a decade ahead of Romania's use of the same formation in 1994. Luciano Spalletti used the 4-6-0 in 2006 with Roma before Ferguson again revisited the formation in 2007-8, winning the Premiership and Champions League.In short, SAF's teams were always more tactically diverse (and interesting) than the pigeon-holing of his teams as direct and broadly 4-4-2 in shape.Crucially though, the philosophy always remains the same – a commitment to dynamic, romantic attacking football.