How do we solve our midfield problem?

OmarUnited4ever

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Agreed. We all know Fred/McT are not great players and can be improved but simply swapping them for 2 better midfielders isn't just going to solve all the problems imo. When I look at other teams e.g. City, they obtain control because of the team collective, it's not just their central midfielders. The full backs and attackers all play an important role in controlling the game and not giving the ball away cheaply. I think if we could improve the collective team mentality to retaining possession, working off the ball etc we would see that we are much better at keeping the ball. Fred/McT aren't a midfield that is going to win you the league but they're not so bad that we couldn't be functional with them- the problems are deeper than them as we are struggling against everyone.

It may be that we're happy to have less players in the middle and concede the midfied battle to have more players out wide and be able to expose that space (which it looked to me that we were doing yesterday) however if you do that then our wide attackers have to up their games. As it is right now we're doing nothing to get control of the middle as we leave the midfield outnumbered but we're also not being effective from wide areas!
Agreed, especially with the bolded part, I think the problem is tactical 1st, personnel 2nd.

we need a bit more of organization in the team which we lack now, the pressing is disjointed, the movements are uncoordinated, and the whole team seems to be confused on what to do and when to do whatever is needed to be done.
 

Roux

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Bruno plays far too high up the pitch and roams quite alot- this small change has a big difference imo. Makes the midfield 3 a man short and leaves us exposed.
 

Wheato

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The midfield is over-run every single match we play. Doesn't matter who the opposition is. It was the same as last season. Teams set up narrow against us, Villa were playing with 4 against 2. Bruno and Cavani were having to drop back, because McFred were sitting so deep. United had a massive gap in the middle of the pitch, between the forward line and the defence.

We are playing with two static midfielders who are not CDM's. They cannot take the ball off the defence and bring it up the pitch, they hide and do not show for the ball. This is evident when we see Matic play. He comes and takes to ball off the back four and progresses it up the pitch.

With Villa playing so narrow, they left lots of space on the wings. We play with two strikers on the wings, who both want to cut in and shoot. A natural winger tries to get in behind the opposition and feed the strikers. We produce nothing for the strikers. They play off scraps. We have 2 of the best number 9's in the game and they don't get any service at all. This was the same patterns of play as under Ole.

De Gea is our best player this season, but he can't throw or kick a ball out to a United player who is in space. He takes the safe option to roll it out to Lindelof every single time. Mason Greenwood is stood unmarked on the halfway line, has the entire Villa half to run into, but David doesn't have the confidence to launch it out to him. I was watching Henderson and Heaton in the warm up throwing balls out to the wings and wondering why De Gea can't do it. It is just weird.

So, we can't play out from the back because the goal keepers distribution isn't up to scratch. The central defenders can't play it into midfield, because they are over-run and don't want the ball anyway. The full backs don't have any cohesion with the wingers, because they just want to cut inside and shoot. But more often than not, we lose the ball when the full-backs try to play a one two with the wingers.

We are a mess all over the pitch. There is a serious amount of coaching required. Players playing out of position and not using their strengths. Confidence is rock bottom. It is astounding that this group of players are looking like square pegs in round holes, when we were looking like challenging at the start of the season. The decision not to sign 2 CDM's has been like a cancer spreading through the team.

Roy Keane said, "If you can't win the midfield battle, you don't win football matches."

It's there for all to see. We know it. They know it. Sort it out.
 

tomaldinho1

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Honestly I think it's more an issue of the types of players we have than anything else. Cavani for all his effort is slow, Bruno is slow and an absolute rogue in terms of positioning, McFred are not amazing as a pair but they are always overrun because teams always have passing options centrally against us

4222 is meant to defensively setup a hexagon between the 222 when out of possession and the ball is in the opponent's half, then you try to shepherd the ball into areas where you either all press or just try to get the opposition to play long. We just don't have dynamic enough players to play this system, you can have one less mobile forward (which is why I think Ronaldo would work) but you can't have two. It's just too easy for teams to pass around our press at the moment.
 

Remember the geese

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I'd like us to solve our midfield problem by playing 3 actual midfielders. Not 2 and Fernandes. I would like to see either Bruno or Greenwood play as a false 9. Then take any 2 from Rashford, Sancho, Amad, Elanga or Greenwood to complete the front 3. I would do everything I could to sign a defensive midfielder/deep lying playmaker and pair him either with Fred or an additional signing. As for the third midfield slot, perhaps Van de Beek or Hannibal could be used there. Alternatively, another midfield signing. Basically, a defensive midfielder/deep lying playmaker is a must, then the other two midfield positions may need signings too depending on how highly we rate Fred, Van de Beek and Hannibal.
 
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BuzzKillington

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Have better midfielders.


If we have Neves and Ndidi we would be in much better shape.


Neither McT or Fred are top technical players. I could name about 100 CMs who would improve us.
If you think Ndidi is a top techinical player you have absolutely no idea what youre talking about.
 

Lee565

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For all the flack matic gets for making it easy for the opposition to bypass our midfield, I see no difference with this mcfred combination and I really do not understand how beek has been so shafted with playing time, this awful mcfred combination has constantly shown it offers little in creativity, control and being able to protect the back 4, I'm not saying beek should be starting every single game but for him to barely get a look in over these two is an absolute joke.
 

RedRonaldo

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Sign 3 new midfielders, bench McFred and move Bruno to false 9 position, and start it all over again.
 

rooney2009

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We cant keep having a go at Mcfred
We cant keep playing 2 midfielders against 3 or 4 midfielders
the shape or tactics are wrong and we have to stop this 2midfield rubbish and move into modern football
 

devips

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McFred are any day better than Ndidi, Neves and all those flavor of the month.

But do we need another midfielder? Oh yes.
 

Teddy99Ire

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I think McFred just doesn't work as a pair. If we put a proper 6 (Tchouaméni) in there beside either one of them they'd thrive. There's nothing really coming through the academy to do that job so we need to go out and spend.

On a slightly related note, does anyone know how Jane's Garner has been getting on for Forest? I haven't seen them play this season.
 

Mastoness

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Playing 2 midfielders while Bruno is acting more as a forward would maybe work if we had Vieira and Makelele as 2 holding mids but unfortunately that is not the case.

Mid 3 is the only way to go and real CDM is a must and someone as Frenkie De Jong (or similar) next to him, Donny (or someone else, doubt Pogba will stay with us) as a third mid.

Still, there is a question how to use Bruno then, as a false 9, CAM in 4-4-2 diamond, left or right forward in 4-3-3? Maybe Milan's Christmas tree formation with Sancho as other CAM?
 

sparx99

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Last night we only really got control once Van De Beek came on for Cavani. I'm not saying he is the solution but clearly having a 3rd midfielder helped us get control in the middle of the park.

Based on that bit of information and the options we have I would want to see us lineup with Fred, McTominay and VDB at the weekend. Both VDB and McTominay can get forward. Yes, Fred isn't disciplined enough to play as a DM but he has way more mobility than Matic and it's best option we have right now. In fact what I would say is that all three could kind of play box to box. When the ball is being advanced down the left Fred could support the attack and McTominay fills in at DM. When its going down the right they could do the opposite.

Then I'd play Bruno off the LW with license to roam and Shaw/Telles overlapping. Cavani/Ronaldo up top and Greenwood/Sancho from the RW.

If we aren't going to sign a true DM this window then I think you have to pick Fred or McTominay and make the best of it. They make mistakes in the current set up so who cares if they make mistakes in a 4-3-3. At least there are two other midfielders to help out instead of one.
 

Kinsella

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By bringing in new and better midfielders.

You can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear!
 

Born2Lose

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Part of it is having forwards who don't lose possession so easily.
 

Red Shorts

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Anyone think Kessie would be a good start in fixing the defensive side of our CM play? On a free this summer, havent seen a tremendous amount of him but looked great when he played against us.

We just look lost when we are defending. There regularly seems to be a big gap between CM and defence when teams break against us. Not sure if hes the sort of player that would help plug that gap or not?
 

Ali Dia

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We simply need to buy better midfield players. They shouldn't be hard to find - Villa's midfield players, for example, are significantly better than our own, as evidenced by tonight. There must be some options available this month for a reasonable price.
Olie Watkins looked a lot better than any of our forwards last night. Spending lots more money is just the tip of the iceberg. Each problem spills over into another area in this team as things stand. If we had industrious pressing/tracking and god forbid creative wingers who can tuck in or go wide it would make a huge difference to the control issue. We play 4 2 4 and it’s not helping anyone in the team reach their best. Another aspect is playing Bruno so far forward. I imagine it’s all a futile attempt at getting the forwards into any kind of form… but they look like strangers who don’t know what the other person is even attempting most of the time.

Kessie would be a great shout on a free. We don’t need to break the bank to find the right worker players. We need to be MUCH more ruthless with our wide forwards who are providing absolutely nothing going in either direction though
 
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OleTheGreat

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GET RID OF MCFRED! Bring a player in the mold of Busquets, Fernandinho, Casemiro, Rodri. Once that happens, we'll play through him and if he is good at rotating the ball from side to side and switching it up with the long ball to the wingbacks or wingers. We'll get everything going and we'll start getting on the ball more and start attacking. It makes me crib how well City, Liverpool or Chelsea manage to keep the ball.
 

L1nk

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This is one problem that we can only solve by throwing money at it, normally i wouldn't advocate so much for that. But it's a chronically underfunded position and one that has been criminally neglected in terms of any kind of plan or structure when it comes to signing not only players of quality but ones that will fit in and that we need, it's so unbalanced it's unreal.

DM - Matic is our only real DM and he is so well passed it I don't know what to say
BTB - Fred, Mctominay, and Pogba(?)
Attacking Mid/No 10 - Bruno, DVB, Pogba(?), Lingard, Pereira, Mata

Get rid of Matic, Lingard, Mata, Pereira, DVB and Pogba is likely gone anyway

Promote Mejbri, and maybe even bring in Garner if his loan spell ends well

Buy 2 new MF's, certainly one DM and another B2B/Attacking mid at a minimum
 

UpWithRivers

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I think we have to play 3 CMs
This is the most unbelievable part of our whole existence. Its all McFred is sht and play DVB in a 2 or play Pogba in a 2. It doesn't work! What would happen if you played Bruno (who everyone thinks is our world class player and would walk into any other team) for Liverpool or City. You think it would work?

----------Back Four
Henderson-----Milner
------------Bruno-------
------------Front 3

Or City
----------Back Four
De Bruyne-----Gundogan
------------Bruno-------
------------Front 3

If you throw in their DM's in Fabinho/Fernandinhio/Rodri in the two then it would maybe work better but it would still get overrun simply by numbers. Even if you dont believe me because Im a nobody ask yourself why the two top managers don't play with a 10? The above teams is a closer approximation of our team. Everyone says we play 2 DM's. We dont. We play two box to box players in Fred and McTominay. Ok they might be more defensive than attacking but they are not DM's by a long shot.

The Man City team above is what it would look like with DVB or Pogba in the two man midfield. It hasnt worked for years and the top teams dont do it so why do we keep doing it? Its maddening. Now everyone is going to say but Bruno is an AM and he helps out. Well he presses and works a bit but he is nowhere near a third CM. Look at the Villa game, numerous times he was charging down the keeper. He was next to Cavani most of the game. On top of that he hinders the midfield by not holding on to the ball. You can blame McFred all you want but you play any two players in the prem against sides that pack the midfield then you are fkd. End of. Ok unless you have Kante and Ndidi maybe you would get away with it. Maybe.

Just play a 4-3-3 and we will be much better.

------------------------Back Four
McTominay-----Fred----DVB/Pogba-----
----------------------Front 3

Then a new DM will be much better.

--------------------------Back Four
McTominay-----Ndidi-----DVB/Pogba
-----------------------Front 3

What I would really like to try is Bruno as a false 9

--------------------------Back Four
McTominay--------------Ndidi-------------DVB/Pogba
---------------------------------Bruno
Sancho/Greenwood-------------Rashford

Im no professional coach but how it cant be obvious that its not working is beyond me. Look at what happened when we brought DVB on yesterday. Villa were done. People were saying they got tired. They didnt. They just got shut down by an extra body in midfield. Even Rangnick said it at post match. So why not do it from the start?
 

Flyer1

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Ruben neves would go a long way to solving your midfield woes. He keeps the ball, has a great passing range, always wants it and has a shot on him, I'd have him at City and wolves are a selling club. He stands out in a turgid wolves team and has done every season, a class act.
 

Scottynaldinho

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It can't be that every other team has a better midfield than us just because we're getting dominated in that area of the pitch even when one of Mcfred has had a decent game, even MOM performances.

Although Mcfred is an issue, we can still control the midfield with the right formation and playing in numbers. What's really kills us is the gaping hole that's there when we're in possession. No one is there to receive and distribute the ball. This was less of an issue when Bruno was playing as classic number 10.
 

Rampant Red Rodriguez

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We have energy in Fred for the forward press, but sorely lack the defensive pressing midfield player. We have our all action man in McTominay. We have our King Bruno and the Prince in Hannibal. Get that defensive stability and we will be fine.
 

sdb4884

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Playing Fred and McTominay there is the problem, the worst midfield pairing in the league. Getting Neves and Kamara in there would help Fernandes get back to his best form.
 

kthanksbye

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I don't think we've ever been able to play a traditional #10, even going back to when we bought Kagawa, we got on the #10 train very late when the entire world was moving away from the #10s, Oscar, Ozil and Gotze were being phased out and we were trying to see how we can fit in Kagawa, we went ahead and bought Mata too and had no idea how to use him.

That problem still persists, Bruno was magical for us with his goal return but our tactic was that to catch teams on the break, there was very little structural and tactical setup to get the best out of him. None of the big teams or successful managers are using an out and out #10. Having one makes it even more difficult to find and develop the two players to play behind that player. It doesn't help that our options are McFred and Matic.

If we're to solve our midfield issue we will have to find two very specific players who between them have the creativity, enough defensive positioning and are able to cover enough ground to counter the opposition's midfield 3.
I don't know who those two players are but I don't for one second believe that we're capable of finding, buying and then playing them in a working system behind Bruno.

So as odd as it might sound, in order to fix our midfield we'll have to either get rid of or reposition our best midfielder.
 

Nordmore

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Buy a good defensive midfielder. Every top club has at least a good one. Even some of the mid table ones have one. We have Matic.
 

LuckyScout78

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It start first with the manager. Then you can blame the qualities of the cm players are not good enough.

+ First the manager :
- The manager want cleen sheet
- Focus on pressing and beeing aggressive. Set up for counter attack. Then counter attack and pressing the ball = lesser control of the ball. City and Liverpool are two teams that are clearly offensive minded and the manager focus on dominating and having the ball. Control the ball and game. When they lost the ball. They are trying to win the ball back as fast as possible.
Evidence. Ragnick like Ole. Start Fred & McTom as regular cm duo. Sometime rotating Fred with Matic. Those 3 players are better without the ball. They are more defensive cm player than creative and offensive controlling cm players. Then you cant expect to control the ball and match most of the time. When you set up to counter and pressing your opponents.

+ Then the players. Clearly relate to controlling, dominating and ball possession team. You need cm players that have world and top level of those abilities. Then without Pogba. Matic, Fred, and McTom are just good and top 4-8 cm players. If you want to win premier league and to beat City or Liverpool. You get to have better cm players than them. Or the special season with a world class Kante with 2 super really good counter attacking players in Mahrez and Vardy. If not Leicester City way to win premier league. You get to focus, inspire and motive your players go out there to be boss of the ball and pitch. Control the ball and game.

Two biggest problem with United are. United dont have top creative and controlling cm players. Plus not good, effience and dont have top quality and consistent counter attacking players. Like Liverpool and City are controlling and dominating team. Still they have really good and close to top level of counter attacking players in Mane and Salah. City with Foden and Mahrez.
In other words. City and Liverpool are not control and dominate the ball and game. They have really dangerous weapons for counter attack too. Maybe same with Chelsea. Common with those teams and reason why they are on top of the table and dominating the premier league and ch.league. They are really close to be complete as a football team.

So those are mine personal point of view. Two main area and reasons you can change for the better. The manager and the leader + the qualities of the players.
 

pre Munich Red

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Hard to believe that this problem has been festering since the retirements of Keane and Scholes.
Utd. since Ferguson have been a ‘donut’ team, a defensive strength, DeGea, an attacking strength, Bruno, and nothing elsewhere or in the middle, zero.
As for board and management, another zero.
No trophies, no spirit, no graft, just big fat pay-days for the Glazers and players.
There has to be decent talents in the Academy to offset this current lot.
 

Lee565

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We had the potential to solve this on 3 occasions since moyes left.

Di maria, carrick and Herrera could have been fantastic midfield but van gaal thought otherwise and kept trying du maria in other positions during his only season here. Even when schweinsteiger turned up I think a partnership of him Herrera could have done well but van gaal favoured the underwhelming Schneiderlin instead of herrera.

Then mourinho took over and again we could have had a midfield of schweinsteiger (or even Schneiderlin), herrera and pogba but instead mourinho went with bloody fellaini and pogba as a midfield 2 and trying to turn both pogba and fellaini into something neither were and unfairly froze schweinsteige out.

We again had the opportunity when matic joined and could have gone with Herrera, matic and pogba but went with pogba and matic as a 2 man midfield which wasn't good for pogba as he is not that type of of midfielder and left matic exposed too much due to pogba's lack of positional discipline.

We did eventually start to see the 3 man midfield of herrera, magic and pogba under ole and it looked great but injuries and Herrera's contract situation disrupted it.

Herrera was massively undervalued by fans and past managers in terms of the balance and quality he could give our midfield, ever since moving to PSG he became a mainstay in their midfield.

It was never the lack of investment that has caused our midfield issue but more down to hiring past it/poor managers, good modern managers like tuchel and potchettino saw the worth in Herrera that our managers/club should have.
 

TheGame

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At the moment until someone comes in, you could play:

DVB-----McT------Fred

Sancho/Greenwood---Ronaldo/Cavani----Bruno/Rashford

Obviously need midfield improvements and against so called weaker teams, you could play Bruno back in a 4-2-3-1 and play an extra attacker on the left. McT needs to be told to stay back and play as an actual DM.
 

Hughie77

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This season a fit pogba for a few games would be nice , started the season with a shit load of assists, then gers crocked . Need him at least
 

Litch

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interesting how no new player has resolved any of the previous problems. I suspect that will be the issue of the midfield too. McFred is such as easy scapegoat, it's all on them yet people are just realising the issues are much more entrenched. Not Utd quality, well you can apply that to 80% of the team. There is this nonsense about losing the midfield battle, which teams only play with 2 in midfield if the haven't got a back 5. We are being overrun can Bruno doesn't drop in...
 

ur2cdanger

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If we are playing slow defenders, we need to play Matic always. He is the only player who can get ball from CDs. That leaves the other 2 central players should be McFred for harder teams/away, One of McFred + Pogba and then most attacking One of McFred + Bruno. The only way only McFred will work would be if we play way higher up which needs a super fast CD which we don't have.
 

HailtotheKing

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We're being overrun because of the huge gaps. Our defence sits too deep because of lack of pace (Maguire). McFred can't link the ball to our forwards and then they end up having to sit deep. So there's a massive gap between our midfield and attack. Added to the fact our defence is scared to play into our midfield due to their ability to control the ball, and our attack doesn't press cohesively, we are an absolute mess and leave gaps all across the field. Adding someone who can control the ball, receive it from defence and link the attack would go a huge way to us gaining control of games. I just don't know why we've insisted on playing two in midfield, it's brainless. And if our defence pushed up a bit, the gaps would be gone. Then all we need is pace in defence to cover the ball behind.
 

davidmichael

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1. Play a midfield 3

2. Buy a quality pure out and out defensive midfielder.

3. Buy an actual playmaker

4. Use Fernandes is the same way Chelsea used to use Lampard so as part of a three but with a licence to burst into the box and be closer to the goal.

5. Have modern full backs who are good going forward so the midfield can keep a better shape and not pulled out all over the place, we’re so easy to play through against even the worst teams in the league.

6. Allow our wide forwards to be the main support to the central striker as a front three instead of having to play as more less wide midfielders in a four, tactically and formation wise we’re so piss poor and no one seems to actually know their position no matter what formation we play.
 

Hammondo

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1. Play a midfield 3

2. Buy a quality pure out and out defensive midfielder.

3. Buy an actual playmaker

4. Use Fernandes is the same way Chelsea used to use Lampard so as part of a three but with a licence to burst into the box and be closer to the goal.

5. Have modern full backs who are good going forward so the midfield can keep a better shape and not pulled out all over the place, we’re so easy to play through against even the worst teams in the league.

6. Allow our wide forwards to be the main support to the central striker as a front three instead of having to play as more less wide midfielders in a four, tactically and formation wise we’re so piss poor and no one seems to actually know their position no matter what formation we play.
Our wide players play like strikers ffs.
 

jesperjaap

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All these formation and role changing posts. Its very very simple the answer to this thread, we need to sign better players suited to the role within the team with genuine quality and consistency.

VDB was never the answer, Fred is simply not good enough, McTominay is a very useful squad option, Matic was a good signing but is now past his best, Pogba proved many moons ago he cant be trusted in the position defensively....could go on but it doesnt matter which formation or players we play in our midfield, there is no great combinations/options. It was for me a criminal mistake we didnt stregthen there in the summer, we needed two