Are we a CDM short of being an elite team?

::sonny::

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He is always asking to Phelan what to do

The end product is Wan Bissaka as a playmaker
 

peridigm

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I'm not sure if Ole prefers McTominay in MF but it looks like Pogba is back in MF for the foreseeable future. There's just no room for him on the LW with Sancho, Rashford, and Greenwood which means his only position is in MF with one of Fred, McTominay, Donny, or Matic. Today was not great with the later. We've seen Fred and Pogba and it's not ideal either. I'm trying to think of McTominay and Pogba matches where they bossed it. Anyone want to enlighten me?
 

glazed

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Jonathan Wilson in Guardian flagging up how vulnerable we are to the counter with Pogba playing there. What Newcastle did once, a better team might do three or four times.

https://www.theguardian.com/footbal...orship-does-not-mask-manchester-uniteds-flaws


"United’s problem last season was not scoring goals. They were the second-highest scorers in the Premier League and somehow went out of the Champions League despite getting 15 in the group. Their problem was the clunkiness of the midfield, the lack of coherence that meant they could be thwarted by solid if unspectacular teams – Crystal Palace, West Brom, Sheffield United, Villarreal …

There were alarming signs in the first half that Ronaldo might exacerbate that problem. It’s early days and relationships may develop, but when, for instance, he burst into the left of the box after 20 minutes and slammed a shot into the side netting from a narrow angle, there was nobody in the centre for a cross: Greenwood, Jadon Sancho and Fernandes were essentially standing back and watching."
 

Mr Smith

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Jonathan Wilson in Guardian flagging up how vulnerable we are to the counter with Pogba playing there. What Newcastle did once, a better team might do three or four times.

https://www.theguardian.com/footbal...orship-does-not-mask-manchester-uniteds-flaws


"United’s problem last season was not scoring goals. They were the second-highest scorers in the Premier League and somehow went out of the Champions League despite getting 15 in the group. Their problem was the clunkiness of the midfield, the lack of coherence that meant they could be thwarted by solid if unspectacular teams – Crystal Palace, West Brom, Sheffield United, Villarreal …

There were alarming signs in the first half that Ronaldo might exacerbate that problem. It’s early days and relationships may develop, but when, for instance, he burst into the left of the box after 20 minutes and slammed a shot into the side netting from a narrow angle, there was nobody in the centre for a cross: Greenwood, Jadon Sancho and Fernandes were essentially standing back and watching."
Very confusing post this. You raise two very valid points at the beginning and the end of the post that have nothing to do with each other, and make out that they're causally related?
 

Utd77

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Its the achilles heel of the team, Ole has to bring in a quality CDM in January surely, Kessie or Neves would be an upgrade and attainable.
 

UNITED ACADEMY

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I'm not sure if Ole prefers McTominay in MF but it looks like Pogba is back in MF for the foreseeable future. There's just no room for him on the LW with Sancho, Rashford, and Greenwood which means his only position is in MF with one of Fred, McTominay, Donny, or Matic. Today was not great with the later. We've seen Fred and Pogba and it's not ideal either. I'm trying to think of McTominay and Pogba matches where they bossed it. Anyone want to enlighten me?
Probably 4-0 vs Chelsea home in 19/20 and first half vs Everton home last season before Pogba got injured. I thought the Villareal final McTominay was brilliant and he played alongside Pogba, if we have Ronaldo and Varane in that game, we would win it for sure.
 

MadDogg

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I'm not sure if Ole prefers McTominay in MF but it looks like Pogba is back in MF for the foreseeable future. There's just no room for him on the LW with Sancho, Rashford, and Greenwood which means his only position is in MF with one of Fred, McTominay, Donny, or Matic. Today was not great with the later. We've seen Fred and Pogba and it's not ideal either. I'm trying to think of McTominay and Pogba matches where they bossed it. Anyone want to enlighten me?
At the start of 19/20 Scott and Pogba got a run of games together and didn't do well (1 win, 3 draws, 1 loss), but they have done better since Bruno joined. They beat Liverpool in the FA Cup (from memory we were the better team and deserved to win by more), we were 1-0 and having one of our best performances of the season against Everton before Pogba was injured (the game that ended 3-3), we should have beaten Villarreal in the Europa final, and also beat West Ham last season. There was also one win and one loss against Crystal Palace.

There's enough there that I would like to see it again at some stage and it may end up being our best option when we do play Pogba in midfield, but I wouldn't say I'm particularly hopeful about the combo.
 

Wednesday at Stoke

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Jonathan Wilson in Guardian flagging up how vulnerable we are to the counter with Pogba playing there. What Newcastle did once, a better team might do three or four times.

https://www.theguardian.com/footbal...orship-does-not-mask-manchester-uniteds-flaws


"United’s problem last season was not scoring goals. They were the second-highest scorers in the Premier League and somehow went out of the Champions League despite getting 15 in the group. Their problem was the clunkiness of the midfield, the lack of coherence that meant they could be thwarted by solid if unspectacular teams – Crystal Palace, West Brom, Sheffield United, Villarreal …

There were alarming signs in the first half that Ronaldo might exacerbate that problem. It’s early days and relationships may develop, but when, for instance, he burst into the left of the box after 20 minutes and slammed a shot into the side netting from a narrow angle, there was nobody in the centre for a cross: Greenwood, Jadon Sancho and Fernandes were essentially standing back and watching."
We are going to play McTominay and Fred in big games with Pogba on the left though.
 

Drainy

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The midfield is serviceable, not ideal and obviously a top class screening defensive midfielder will massively improve the side.

The problem last season was a lack on invention and finishing of chances, and in-game management to see off teams. Last season we were not expansive enough at home and it caused more draws and narrow losses than we can bare if we want to win a league.

This season with Varane I expect we'll push up more, and that will create gaps for other teams to try and exploit which will look rocky due to a lack of stability in midfield but overall we should pick up more points.

Next season, I'm not sure how likely we are to have retained Pogba so will need our young wide forwards to step up the creativity and improve at right back as well.
 

Drainy

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We are going to play McTominay and Fred in big games with Pogba on the left though.
Yeah, in the biggest games and away from home we're going to see a lot of McFred when both are available.

Hopefully next season we can sign a proper screening defensive midfielder to allow McTominay to push further up and play his natural game breaking up play and being an offensive outlet.
 

Dr Fink

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Too slow through the middle yesterday first half. Ponderous even. Matic did OK, but that’s it. The final piece in the jigsaw. Maybe give Donny a run there? He moves the ball far, far quicker. Matic is just too slow. Fred has a good game 1 in 3, which isn’t good enough.
 

glazed

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Very confusing post this. You raise two very valid points at the beginning and the end of the post that have nothing to do with each other, and make out that they're causally related?
Sorry I think they are more related in the article but I take your point
 

E-mal

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No matter what we play or who we have as the midfield two, we will struggle because most teams play an extra third man midfield, our third essentially plays as a forward.
The personnel in the midfield do not complement, but what we could do for now is instruct our no10 to play as a third man in midfield seeing we have quality attackers that will come up with the goals.
 

Jericho

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Just noticed that Saul went to Chelsea on loan. Could he have been the missing piece for us?
 

Strelok

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We've needed a DM for a long time and we've always ignored it. This dates back to Ole's first season. Ole had success with Pogba as an 8 in a 4-3-3 in his interim period. I remember the transfer forums were buzzing for a deep lying playmaker to help Pogba creatively. What we did the following season was remove Pogba from his best position and put him in the double pivot in a 4-2-3-1. That decision was strange to me because it watered down the ability of our best player.

In another reality we would have continued with Pogba as an 8 in a 4-3-3 and bought a DM instead of Bruno. VdB will turn out useful because of this and I'll squad will also be balanced. This is just one instance we could have gotten a DM

Another instance is last summer when we got Van De Beek. How much of a necessity was it to get a back up AM when Bruno is always available and Pogba can fill in that role. In hindsight that VdB transfer was absolutely pointless and we should have gotten a DM instead. We could have easily rectified this situation by selling VdB this summer and use the funds to get a DM but we didn't. I think if we are one DM short of an elite side then Ole and his transfer team have themselves to blame because we've had opportunities to fill that role
Pogba was not really a 8 in that period, he was deployed as a free roaming attacking player on the left. The 8 was Herrera. Matic was the 6. Pogba was literally flying and so did us in that period.

Then Herrera was "injured". Matic's form went to shit as his legs were gone because of the high pressing we're using. Lot of injures because of that too, our level of fitness was truly horrible. Ole had no choice but to play Pogba there as Fred was still shite and McT was no where near the player he's currently is. That's as far as I can remember.

Regarding VDB imo he was bought to replace Pogba. Back then everyone believed he'd leave. Anyway, it seems we've made a mistake signing him so far.
 

Utd77

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Likely 2 quality additions at most to genuinely compete.

However, having Ronaldo, Varane, Bruno, Pogba possibly extending, and a resurgent Manchester United, that's an extremely attractive proposition for any player the club might show an interest in.
 

Strelok

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Based on the matches so far if I were Ole I would:

1. Play Pogba and Fred/McT against the smaller teams at OT. Like Newcastle, imo they've started to fear us, they won't come out much of their own half and they will play for a draw. We'll be more or less fine defensively with that midfield while still can use the offensive talent of Pogba.

2. Play McFred against the rest. Away matches and matches against the top teams will be fierce midfield battles. We'll need McFred for that. I know atm many think Pogba is undropable but imo it's simply too dangerous to play Pogba in the midfield in such matches. At least based on what we've seen so far I think.

We also might give DVB a chance at some supposedly easier home matches for rotation and to see what he can do. Please no Matic and please sign or loan a good CDM by Jan if possible.
 

::sonny::

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All the players well marked, only Matic and Bissaka have more space to create somenthing. But they are not good enough for it

 

Tony247

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Find an excellent DM even if he costs 100m. Then find a decent RB. These two places we are running thin. Plug them and we are dandy.
 

largelyworried

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Based on the matches so far if I were Ole I would:

1. Play Pogba and Fred/McT against the smaller teams at OT. Like Newcastle, imo they've started to fear us, they won't come out much of their own half and they will play for a draw. We'll be more or less fine defensively with that midfield while still can use the offensive talent of Pogba.

2. Play McFred against the rest. Away matches and matches against the top teams will be fierce midfield battles. We'll need McFred for that. I know atm many think Pogba is undropable but imo it's simply too dangerous to play Pogba in the midfield in such matches. At least based on what we've seen so far I think.

We also might give DVB a chance at some supposedly easier home matches for rotation and to see what he can do. Please no Matic and please sign or loan a good CDM by Jan if possible.
I think the system we played against Leeds is our best bet in any game where the opposition won't just concede midfield to us. That was a 4-2-3-1 with McFred as a double pivot and Pogba on the left. Bruno likes to run forward alongside or beyond the striker, and Pogba likes to come into the central areas. So we end up with 3 in the middle and 3 up front. I think that's a nice balance. It lets us contest the midfield area and makes sure we have plenty of quality close to the opposition goal. I also think it opens the door a bit more to trying DVB in that double pivot.

Playing Pogba in a double pivot is just about ok if the opposition are just going to sit back in their box, though as we saw this week and against Wolves, we're going to mighty vulnerable to the counter attack until we get a better firefighter in the squad.
 

TheReligion

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There is one thing that could work, in fact I think that it would definitely work but it's not the best use of the entire squad unles we rotate a lot.

------------------Ronaldo
----------------B.Fernandes
Pogba----Fred---TMac---Sancho
Shaw---Maguire-Varane--W.Bissaka

For the defense and midfield the reference is 2014-2016 Atletico Madrid, a relatively strict and narrow 4411 where Pogba and Sancho are the playmakers in the mold of Koke/Saul/Carrasco. Fred and McTominay are runners and enforcers their job is to disturb any ball carrier in the middle of the pitch, Bruno's role when we defend is to cover and compensate on the opposing wing of where the ball is because in that narrow system the midfield and defense slide toward the ball carrier which in practice means that the opposing wing isn't covered unless your attacking midfielder slides to that area, someone like Griezmann does that very well and Bruno could do it quite easily.
This is an interesting idea to be honest. We need a few of the draft regulars to cast an eye on the suggestion.

@Gio @Joga Bonito @Physiocrat @harms @Isotope
 

Jericho

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Did you watch his game on Saturday?
I didn’t. I just thought on paper he might have been the answer seeing as he was apparently available on loan. I’ll have to check his performance out later so. Was he that bad? First game, might take time to adapt. Although why was he available on loan, was he already poor at athletico?
 

Isotope

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Who is "Gabi"? And Atletico had 2 attacking FBs.
 

Red Dreams

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I think we will get either Kelvin Philips or Declan Rice next season.
Garner will be back from his loan spell and will be another option for us.
This season we have to play with who we have. Seriously think Donny should be given a chance at that DM position.
He is a very good player. Would hate to see him go to a another team and become a star.
 

Valencia Shin Crosses

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I didn’t. I just thought on paper he might have been the answer seeing as he was apparently available on loan. I’ll have to check his performance out later so. Was he that bad? First game, might take time to adapt. Although why was he available on loan, was he already poor at athletico?
Yes he was already bad at Atletico, and got hooked off at half in his debut at Chelsea. Looked dreadful and doesn't add anything to that team that they don't already have.
 

Jericho

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He is always asking to Phelan what to do

The end product is Wan Bissaka as a playmaker
Stupid as it sounds it feels like Wan Bissaka just sitting in front of a back four wouldn't be the worst option we have at this point. At least he'd have the energy/pace and the tackling ability for it.
 

Valencia Shin Crosses

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Not convinced there is any one individual signing that would suddenly transform us in that position. Time for Ole, his team and the players to become greater than the sum of their parts. Enough people have made good points about all the unglamorous players and so-called weaker links in other champion sides over the last twenty years.
I don't know if a single signing fixes all of it from "available players" which is why it got old listening to everyone moan about signing Ronaldo when "we needed a DM". Really it's just more getting a player with the right skill set in to compliment the other pieces. Matic has this but his mobility has become such a hindrance on the back end.
 

onemanarmy

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I didn’t. I just thought on paper he might have been the answer seeing as he was apparently available on loan. I’ll have to check his performance out later so. Was he that bad? First game, might take time to adapt. Although why was he available on loan, was he already poor at athletico?
He was really bad yeah. Lost the ball on numerous occasions, got outmuscled all the time.
 

Lynty

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Based on not much at all, I predict McTominay will cement himself in the role this season.
 

Zlatattack

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Add Ndidi into our side and we ought to be smashing the league. AWB who was one of our best defenders last season would then be considered the weakest link, because he doesn't add that much attacking.
 

Ali Dia

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I just think we need to defend better as a unit as much as we need another midfielder. There is a cut off point after Bruno where there is no pressing tackling or tracking back and with pogbas proclivity to get forward we are left 4 v 5 and sometimes 6 on the counter. We are living dangerously but getting results. Maybe we will shut up shop more often when Maguire and Varane click but I think it’s as much about the lack of protection in front of them and our players not tracking back or just standing off. We at least need the option of a ball winner in there somewhere or I think the big teams will punish us. We are like a fancy Leeds at the minute. Attack attack attack but wide open on the counter
 

Cathy Ferguson

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Based on not much at all, I predict McTominay will cement himself in the role this season.
He lacks the positional sense that is required. We would also miss his aggression higher up the pitch and his surging runs. He is a much better 8 than a 6 atm.
 

OoopsMisclick

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Our manager should find a more balanced team/tactic.
However, relying on a double defensive pivot is overkill.

I think the problem runs deeper then just plugging a DM.
When you play Pogba and Bruno in the same team, you are going to be a bit exposed. (despite bruno's workrate)