Joao Neves

Isotope

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He looks a talented player, but I can’t see this being the plan next season. That midfield just doesn’t look right for the Prem imo.

- - Bruno - -
Mainoo - Neves
I wonder if Bruno can keep his False 9 position. Thus it gives a room for a DM and those two in midfield. Those two are skillful, but still lack that final 3rd vision that Bruno provide. Ideally in two years, those two will develop that killer instinct.

Unless of course if we buy those two creative Crystal's wingers, then we don't need a false 9.
 

Himannv

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He looks more like an 8 than a 6, which makes me doubt if he's what our midfield really needs. He's not quite worth it if the prices thrown around are to be believed - £100m is far too much for instance.
 

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He looks a talented player, but I can’t see this being the plan next season. That midfield just doesn’t look right for the Prem imo.

- - Bruno - -
Mainoo - Neves
We’re supposed to be a big team, which means front-foot ambitions in near every game we play. Our midfield should be squeezing the life out of all but other CL opponents. Given that context, what about that looks unworkable?

Bigger games are more bespoke, and we, like most others, pull in specialists for those games, so the above would and should be but one unit from many at our disposal - a question to ask yourself is can that midfield rack up points and streaks on those teams it’s outright better than on paper? And if it can, why would you shy away from it?

Both of those at the base have genuine #6 experience, intelligence and a good understanding of the game going on around them; do you think between coaching, familiarity and natural ability, they wouldn’t have enough defensive nous between them? I think there’s a big difference between being suboptimal and being incapable; people want the iron lock, world class potential #6, which is understandable, but in lieu of that, there isn’t much weighing of pros and cons of such a tandem unit going on. In fact, the assessments seem to be mostly negative. I also think we’ve a bit of Stockholm syndrome going on where it’s been so, so long since we’ve controlled a midfield that a lot of posters have no real belief that is genuinely possible for us by August.

If Neves can and does transfer his performance level to the PL, and Mainoo even maintains his standard from this season, the pair of them have the potential to drive opposing midfields to the point of distraction, and the onus then becomes insular and more about keeping one’s shape rather than inviting an open game with half spaces to exploit or proactive work towards the base of our midfield. If we’re a genuine front foot team, the entire midfield landscape changes and getting at us in the smaller windows of time afforded is so much harder than we’re used to, and not only that, considerably, more tiring to make uniform breaks from starting points some 10-20 yards deeper.

Be it as a base or in front of a dedicated #6, the tandemizing of these two really unlocks a style of football we’ve had to sit back and watch other clubs play in awe.
 

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I dream of the day we start playing a proper 433. This lad and Mainoo as double 8s, with a proper CDM in the Busquets, Rodri, Casemiro mould is the direction we really should be heading.
 

Hammondo

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I dream of the day we start playing a proper 433. This lad and Mainoo as double 8s, with a proper CDM in the Busquets, Rodri, Casemiro mould is the direction we really should be heading.
I would love it. Actual midfield control. I can only dream.
 

aeh1991

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I dream of the day we start playing a proper 433. This lad and Mainoo as double 8s, with a proper CDM in the Busquets, Rodri, Casemiro mould is the direction we really should be heading.
An already popular opinion here, but I'd also love that DM to be Archie Gray although it's gonna be difficult given his strong Leeds connection. Would be a fantastic trio for a decade.
 

Berbasbullet

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An already popular opinion here, but I'd also love that DM to be Archie Gray although it's gonna be difficult given his strong Leeds connection. Would be a fantastic trio for a decade.
This is what I want us to build towards! Young and hungry players to put us in good stead in 2-3 years time.
 

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Cantona and Alan Smith say otherwise ;)
Smith was effectively forced to join us by Leeds because we were offering money up-front instead of instalments.

And neither of them had 3 family members who also played for Leeds, followed by other roles such as coaching, managing, commentary for the club's TV channel. Archie's younger brother is also in the Leeds academy.

It's just not happening, there's as much chance of Liverpool signing Mainoo.
 

luke511

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He looks more like an 8 than a 6, which makes me doubt if he's what our midfield really needs. He's not quite worth it if the prices thrown around are to be believed - £100m is far too much for instance.
2 6/8s is exactly what we need behind a floating 10 like Bruno. There needs to be a shared responsibility on and off the ball between them.
 

aeh1991

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Smith was effectively forced to join us by Leeds because we were offering money up-front instead of instalments.

And neither of them had 3 family members who also played for Leeds, followed by other roles such as coaching, managing, commentary for the club's TV channel. Archie's younger brother is also in the Leeds academy.

It's just not happening, there's as much chance of Liverpool signing Mainoo.
The only chance is that they didn't get promoted and it might be tempting to become a starter for a club playing internationally.
 

bosskeano

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2 6/8s is exactly what we need behind a floating 10 like Bruno. There needs to be a shared responsibility on and off the ball between them.
having two guys behind Bruno defensively would be a step up from the norm where we just left Kobbie on an island by himself
 

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An already popular opinion here, but I'd also love that DM to be Archie Gray although it's gonna be difficult given his strong Leeds connection. Would be a fantastic trio for a decade.
Seems to be the fashion nowadays that we all as supporters want to build a team full of wonder kids for the next decade, but football very rarely turns out that way.

Very rare as a top club to have 2 midfielders U21 make up 2/3 of your midfield, never mind having 3.
 

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Seems to be the fashion nowadays that we all as supporters want to build a team full of wonder kids for the next decade, but football very rarely turns out that way.

Very rare as a top club to have 2 midfielders U21 make up 2/3 of your midfield, never mind having 3.
That’s true, although it is simply rare for a single club to have two or three of the most highly rated young midfielders in the world at any one time. In the event that they do, they will probably play. Just like Gavi and Pedri. However, most teams would never pay what it would cost to buy both Gavi AND Pedri, which is why it doesn’t happen. It’s happened at Barca because of the costs. United similarly got Mainoo for free, so if they spent big on another it wouldn’t be that unusual for a strategy. Three may be a stretch though, again, mainly due to the cost than anything else.

Real Madrid have spent huge sums un midfielders 21 or under who are all credible first team options.
 

BuzzKillington

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Seems to be the fashion nowadays that we all as supporters want to build a team full of wonder kids for the next decade, but football very rarely turns out that way.

Very rare as a top club to have 2 midfielders U21 make up 2/3 of your midfield, never mind having 3.
It’d make for a very young and inexperienced team, especially with the three in front of them (currently Hojlund, Garnacho & Amad) also being young. We’d probably get twatted most times we came up against anybody half decent, and in those circumstances it’s hard to see any of the six actually reaching their full potential.

I like signing young players, but we probably need an older head or two in amidst that front 6. Bruno being one, any new midfielders need to be mid twenties and have a lot of games under their belt, something more like a Guimarães.
 

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It’d make for a very young and inexperienced team, especially with the three in front of them (currently Hojlund, Garnacho & Amad) also being young. We’d probably get twatted most times we came up against anybody half decent, and in those circumstances it’s hard to see any of the six actually reaching their full potential.

I like signing young players, but we probably need an older head or two in amidst that front 6. Bruno being one, any new midfielders need to be mid twenties and have a lot of games under their belt, something more like a Guimares.
We should sign him and add an experienced ST and CB in my opinion. We have Onana, Martinez, Fernandes, Rashford , Dalot as experienced players already too
 

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Onana Maguire Shaw Licha Bruno (Evans Eriksen and Amrabat too) and hopefully a rejuvenated Rashford are all a good age to lead and set standards. Dalot seems to be coming into his own now too. A few more really talented really driven young players isnt going to mess up the balance or get beaten every week. Signing players whose legs are gone or they simply won’t work hard enough off the ball is the main problem this club has faced. That and signing players and putting them in the wrong role.
 

croadyman

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I dream of the day we start playing a proper 433. This lad and Mainoo as double 8s, with a proper CDM in the Busquets, Rodri, Casemiro mould is the direction we really should be heading.
Who is that proper CDM though?
 

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That’s true, although it is simply rare for a single club to have two or three of the most highly rated young midfielders in the world at any one time. In the event that they do, they will probably play. Just like Gavi and Pedri. However, most teams would never pay what it would cost to buy both Gavi AND Pedri, which is why it doesn’t happen. It’s happened at Barca because of the costs. United similarly got Mainoo for free, so if they spent big on another it wouldn’t be that unusual for a strategy. Three may be a stretch though, again, mainly due to the cost than anything else.

Real Madrid have spent huge sums un midfielders 21 or under who are all credible first team options.
Barca was the team i was thinking about that was the exception. Real have signed some of the best young players, but also have had a core of expereinced players and leaders to integrate them. They've been excellent in their recruitment, buying the likes of Vinicius, Camavinga, Tchouameni while the likes of Modric, Kroos & Benzema were still there, and integrating them into the team over 2 or 3 years rather than just throwing them in and relying on them straight away.

Chelsea are a good case study, who thought they could just go out and buy some of the best young talent out there and try and throw them together into a team, disregarding the fact that they basically sold most of their leaders, and the ones they do have like James, Chilwell are injury prone. It's a good lesson to learn.
 

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That’s true, although it is simply rare for a single club to have two or three of the most highly rated young midfielders in the world at any one time. In the event that they do, they will probably play. Just like Gavi and Pedri. However, most teams would never pay what it would cost to buy both Gavi AND Pedri, which is why it doesn’t happen. It’s happened at Barca because of the costs. United similarly got Mainoo for free, so if they spent big on another it wouldn’t be that unusual for a strategy. Three may be a stretch though, again, mainly due to the cost than anything else.

Real Madrid have spent huge sums un midfielders 21 or under who are all credible first team options.
I don't think its just cost. Experience is hugely important in midfield, particularly given the sophistication of tactics nowadays, and most teenage players aren't physically at their prime either.

Real Madrid spent a lot of money on young midfielders but Kroos and Modric still made 42 league starts between them last year and their most used midfielder is Fede Valverde who at 25 is in the early years of his prime. They've been pretty cautious in how they use Camavinga and Tchouameni, while also playing Bellingham as the tip of a diamond where he doesn't have a lot of responsibility for controlling matches and solving tactical problems.
 

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If we can get him for 60m or under then do it but otherwise he'll have to wait until we're in a healthier FFP situation.
 

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Barca was the team i was thinking about that was the exception. Real have signed some of the best young players, but also have had a core of expereinced players and leaders to integrate them. They've been excellent in their recruitment, buying the likes of Vinicius, Camavinga, Tchouameni while the likes of Modric, Kroos & Benzema were still there, and integrating them into the team over 2 or 3 years rather than just throwing them in and relying on them straight away.

Chelsea are a good case study, who thought they could just go out and buy some of the best young talent out there and try and throw them together into a team, disregarding the fact that they basically sold most of their leaders, and the ones they do have like James, Chilwell are injury prone. It's a good lesson to learn.
Not really. There's quite a difference between 1, 2 or even 3 being integrated into a team at once, and putting together almost an entirely new xi, no matter the age of those players. A lot went wrong at Chelsea that can't be solely pointed at the age of the players being integrated into their set-up. We saw it at Forest, too. That simply takes time and a lot of repetition to fix.

Van Gaal showed what can be done with a bunch of malleable youngsters in a single summer when he brought through ours, many of whom who weren't even good footballers, and had them playing a wholly foreign style to what they knew of, as well as integrating them into a side levels up from where they were coming from as professional debutants. So context is important, as well as the brilliance of the coaching.
 

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Barca was the team i was thinking about that was the exception. Real have signed some of the best young players, but also have had a core of expereinced players and leaders to integrate them. They've been excellent in their recruitment, buying the likes of Vinicius, Camavinga, Tchouameni while the likes of Modric, Kroos & Benzema were still there, and integrating them into the team over 2 or 3 years rather than just throwing them in and relying on them straight away.

Chelsea are a good case study, who thought they could just go out and buy some of the best young talent out there and try and throw them together into a team, disregarding the fact that they basically sold most of their leaders, and the ones they do have like James, Chilwell are injury prone. It's a good lesson to learn.
Chelsea is indeed a good case study, and media hysteria aside, they would probably argue that their project is going pretty much according to plan. They have a team that is trending upwards, and I imagine did mot have the expectation when they bought those players that it would be with a view to them lifting the league the following May. If they go on to finish in the top 4 next season and challenge for the title the one after that, with some of the world’s best players all under 25, I think they would be a good case study indeed. And like us, injuries have massively hampered their progress. Players like Fofana and Nkunku being unavailable for as long as they have would have seriously hampered things.

Anyway, generally speaking, you make a good point, and one that I agree with. Some experience is needed. I also don’t think that signing Neves means rhat we have two U21 mids in our starting or regular XI. I would expect Mason Mount and Bruno Fernandes to start plenty of games next season even if Neves was signed.
 

sherrinford

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I think this is an excellent post and so informative for someone like me who hasn't watched much of Neves outside of his Portugal run-outs and highlight reels.

But my question is: if you have to consider in this much detail to make the argument that he is defensively solid enough to make a partnership with Mainoo, surely it is too much of a risk at £80m+. That is the kind of money you should only ever spend on an absolute square-peg-square-hole superstar. Even if everything you say is absolutely right - and I have no reason to suggest otherwise - it's a concerning amount of strategic gymnastics. Your post pitching for an £80m+ player should just need to say 'He's obviously a perfect signing for what we need' and expect most people to just agree.

Personally I think our last ten years of signings are irrefutable evidence that signings at the top end of the market are just not good business or a good footballing strategy for any team not well established at the very top of the game, or at least their league. City, Real, maybe Bayern. We shouldn't be doing them at all. Because no signing is actually ever a sure thing, except in a team which could basically guarantee success even without that signing. At a team in our situation, where theoretically anyone could struggle, they're a terrible idea.

So much as I think Neves is a wonderful player who I'd love to watch in a United shirt, and your argument in favour is very compelling, I can't see this as a good signing for us.
I'm actually not particularly advocating his signing, and was weighing in more on how to best use him in conjunction with Mainoo if he was in the squad. Both players invite questions and obviously Mainoo will be an integral part of what everyone is envisioning our future midfield to be - so unfortunately I don't think you are going to get unanimous calls for a particular player or exact type of player to line up alongside him.

Keeping it simple, buy a defensive midfielder. Kobbie is pure silk - compliment him with grit. Aggression, tenacity, physical power. And he's an 8, so pair him with a 6.

To me he is a player like Verratti. Or even Gavi. And Mainoo is not dissimilar to Pedri, who is not a 10, but he’s like a 10-leaning 8.

I wouldn’t expect to see Gavi and Pedri in a double pivot. You want both of them roaming, and I think Gavi and Pedri with a 6 is a very balanced midfield and don’t see why Mainoo, Neves and say Wharton couldn’t be of that sort of standard.
Neves has some similarities with Verratti, I would agree. Herrera is quite a good stylistic comparison I feel. I see Mainoo differently to you though - as a deeper 8 or 6-leaning 8 if you will. Like Xavi. So I wouldn't equate a midfield consisting of Mainoo, Neves and a holding player to the balanced looking Pedri/ Gavi/ 6 - for me, it would be like having Xavi or Thiago Alcantara in place of Pedri. You would have a unit consisting entirely of players who want to be, and excel as, deep-lying midfielders, and either one of the two 8s would have to play sub-optimally by looking to occupy and work in more advanced areas between the lines in order to maintain balance, or the impact of all three would be blunted with them all stepping on each other's toes in the same area.

Using Neves as a 6 would be like using Herrera there - which did work, with him forming a successful partnership with Pogba. And there are examples of players operating in the 6 position and still being all-action and able to express themselves and get involved all over the pitch - Keane, Schweinsteiger, Enzo Fernandes, Kimmich, De Jong and maybe even (though perhaps not their best iteration) Fernandinho, Yaya Toure and Gundogan all come to mind.

No it isn't odd at all. I never said that the top teams would all employ tall defensive specialist who excel in nothing but defensive aspects. What I am saying is that this defensive aspects are their strength, the capabilities are there but their "absolute top player" reputation is created because they are able to offer even more. Busquets and Carrick weren't weak at all and they were very difficult to get dribbled past. Same for Casemiro, Fabinho, J. Martinez and Rodri.
Even if Neves had that trait as well - it still wouldn't change the fact that the most successful teams in the more recent past have made use of defensive specialist that were tall. Not JUST because they were tall. Not JUST because they were defensive specialist. But those factors were there. You can argue towards those traits not being as important, thats fine, but you can't argue, that they weren't there.

Edit: About the rest of your post: What would you say is the most "shining" aspect of Neves? You say he is very good on and off the ball, what is where he excels the most in your opinion?
I think Neves shines most on the ball. Not really sure why your asking - is he not allowed to be good both on and off the ball? Only the players you've cherry-picked are? I'm obviously not going to argue Busquets isn't tall. He's not a physical player at all though, and when you are talking about ball-winning capacity and winning headers against West Ham, he is a poor example or benchmark.

No, a player by extension isn't the holding midfielder if he's the first receiver in midfield. That used to be the case with teams in the past but with the evolution of positional play and it becoming more mainstream, the first receiver isn't necessarily utilised as the holding midfielder and coaches now invert players to come in-field to maintain balance and have allowed players like Joao Neves or even Kokcu to have greater influence on the play in all phases of play. Kokcu at Feyenoord under Arne Slot was utilised the same way where he was the first receiver in the build up phase and was then allowed the creative freedom in all phases of play. The holding midfielder was Mats Wieffer with Lutsharel Geertruida inverting from fullback to maintain the defensive balance in rest defense after Kokcu had vacated his position from a deeper midfield role. Kokcu was heavily relied upon in the build up phase but he wasn't relied upon in rest defense against the opponent's transition which was was normal because he was given a lot of freedom to roam like how Neves is being utilised at Benfica. Also you have to take into consideration that Benfica is among the very best teams in the league where they're going to be dominant in all of phases of play when they play anyone outside of Porto and SCP.

So because a midfielder is the first receiver in the build up phase that doesn't mean he is also part of the rest defense strategy to thwart the opponent's transitions.. Of course everyone will have to play their part, but as I outlined above using Feyenoord as a example, they controlled the central area in midfield with Mats Wieffer playing the disciplined holding role with the fullback taking up Kokcu's position once the ball was progressed through the thirds via the build up phase. Joao Neves is someone who is adept at applying the press and receiving passes between the lines, it would be a waste of his talents to try and utilise him in a way that won't get the best out of him. You buy Neves with a player like Varela or Wieffer which then creates a balance in the midfield and gives the more creative roaming type midfielders like Mainoo and Neves the freedom to play their natural game. And it also gives the coach more options having a holding midfielder which would then allow for players to possibly come in-field with him from the first line to maintain balance and provide a strong platform for the midfield and forwards to thrive.

The EPL for me is far stronger than the Portuguese league, and you will be severely tested in transition if the aim is to play a more expansive game in a higher defensive line.

I think I've said enough on this subject, so unless someone provides something new, I'm going to step-away for now because I don't think there's anything more to say.
Fair enough. I pretty much completely disagree and your descriptions of these players and teams doesn't match what I have observed.
 

In Rainbows

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Personally I think our last ten years of signings are irrefutable evidence that signings at the top end of the market are just not good business or a good footballing strategy for any team not well established at the very top of the game, or at least their league. City, Real, maybe Bayern. We shouldn't be doing them at all. Because no signing is actually ever a sure thing, except in a team which could basically guarantee success even without that signing. At a team in our situation, where theoretically anyone could struggle, they're a terrible idea.
Well, look at who actually fits the profile of a Neves from our past transfers. Pogba and Sancho. Maguire and Anthony did not fit that profile of signings, so they shouldn't be used as examples from our list of expensive transfers. Pogba was actually relatively successful for us in that whenever he was healthy, he was still one of our better players. People didn't like him for his attitude in regards to transferring out of United (via his agent), and assessing his performances relative to his talent and fee. It's like people weighed his performances down by those 2 things, and put others on his level because they were far less talented and didn't cost as much. Make no mistake though, he was still one of our better players.

Sancho you could argue that his mentality is what has let him down. One because he was quite happy to let matches pass him by, and then because of training issue for a week, that led to the meltdown.

I've also thought for a few years that it's become more difficult to make your mark as a teenage attacker. You're expected to produce final 3rd moments and stats. A midfielder, despite it being a position that requires more maturity, doesn't require the maturity to be measured in end product. Technical players just have to showcase their technical talent in the middle of the park, which is hugely valued in the middle of the park. I feel like highly technical players are coming in with more in that department (being tidy) than contributing end product. Part of that could be due to final third decision making being far more of a showcase, which allows for easy to see success or failure. Attackers are being asked to contribute defensively too more than 10 years ago, so you being lazy (when it's not always been a mandatory part of the job) sticks out.

Isn't Neves supposed to be a top professional? Martinez said he was very mature and gained the respect of the locker room in 2 days. Not sure, but that puts it over the top for me. Would be great for our future culture apart from being talented. Mainoo fits that too.
 
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Himannv

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2 6/8s is exactly what we need behind a floating 10 like Bruno. There needs to be a shared responsibility on and off the ball between them.
Our biggest problem last season was how open we were through the middle. Even with a dedicated DM like Casemiro, it was kind of easy to bypass us.

Bruno is at his best when he's closer to goal so he'll gravitate forward whether we have the ball or not so support from him is inconsistent. Mainoo is really a B2B midfielder w2ith more offensive contributions so he's not going to be playing deeper always. If you throw in another player of the same ilk in midfield we'll be getting overrun every now and then like we were this whole season.

What we need in my view is a Rodri or Carrick type who can shield the back 4 but also get on the ball and create. With some support from Mainoo and occasionally Bruno, that'd be the ideal setup I think although it's a bit hard to find players of that ilk.
 

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Not really. There's quite a difference between 1, 2 or even 3 being integrated into a team at once, and putting together almost an entirely new xi, no matter the age of those players. A lot went wrong at Chelsea that can't be solely pointed at the age of the players being integrated into their set-up. We saw it at Forest, too. That simply takes time and a lot of repetition to fix.

Van Gaal showed what can be done with a bunch of malleable youngsters in a single summer when he brought through ours, many of whom who weren't even good footballers, and had them playing a wholly foreign style to what they knew of, as well as integrating them into a side levels up from where they were coming from as professional debutants. So context is important, as well as the brilliance of the coaching.
So say you sign Neves, Archie Gray, maybe a Yoro, to add to Garnacho, Mainoo, Hojlund and Amad. Who's the senior players they build into and learn from? Onana, Shaw, Maguire, Dalot, Martinez, Bruno, Rashford? Nearly all of which have been questioned regarding form, fitness or even worse, some of them their attitude? So you have a bunch or U21 players and a bunch of seniors many don't think are good enough.
 

In Rainbows

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Our biggest problem last season was how open we were through the middle. Even with a dedicated DM like Casemiro, it was kind of easy to bypass us.

Bruno is at his best when he's closer to goal so he'll gravitate forward whether we have the ball or not so support from him is inconsistent. Mainoo is really a B2B midfielder w2ith more offensive contributions so he's not going to be playing deeper always. If you throw in another player of the same ilk in midfield we'll be getting overrun every now and then like we were this whole season.

What we need in my view is a Rodri or Carrick type who can shield the back 4 but also get on the ball and create. With some support from Mainoo and occasionally Bruno, that'd be the ideal setup I think although it's a bit hard to find players of that ilk.
I agree we need that type, but we don't have to necessarily solve that during this transfer window. If the right player isn't available, you just wait another year. When Varane was initially available, Fergie thought he should bring in Phil Jones, and wait for Varane. Real Madrid ended up getting Varane because United felt they should wait as Varane wasn't a priority even if he was their first choice young CB.

Besides, I would argue that there is no priority between those 2 sets of midfielders. Whether we prioritize one or the other, we'll still be missing the other.

So say you sign Neves, Archie Gray, maybe a Yoro, to add to Garnacho, Mainoo, Hojlund and Amad. Who's the senior players they build into and learn from? Onana, Shaw, Maguire, Dalot, Martinez, Bruno, Rashford? Nearly all of which have been questioned regarding form, fitness or even worse, some of them their attitude? So you have a bunch or U21 players and a bunch of seniors many don't think are good enough.
Well you would only worry about the young talent that are more susceptible to being negatively influenced. I don't think you have to worry about Neves or Mainoo.

With those, you're more worried about pressure or rather rest time.

But yes, your point largely stands if you have so many teenagers. But as you stated, you don't trust the older players regardless. So I'm not sure age comes into it, and instead is more about individual personalities. Older players coming in could easily become unprofessional if they're the wrong personality for this dressing room.
 

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So say you sign Neves, Archie Gray, maybe a Yoro, to add to Garnacho, Mainoo, Hojlund and Amad. Who's the senior players they build into and learn from? Onana, Shaw, Maguire, Dalot, Martinez, Bruno, Rashford? Nearly all of which have been questioned regarding form, fitness or even worse, some of them their attitude? So you have a bunch or U21 players and a bunch of seniors many don't think are good enough.
Those are all quality senior players you've just listed and that's not even all of them. No point in considering "what many don't think are good enough" and stuff like that, 99% of fans don't have a clue what they're talking about. There's also 0 evidence that any one of them has had attitude problems.

We're also 99% not getting either of those 3 younger players.
 
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Mcking

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Who is that proper CDM though?
Well, we still have Casemiro. For some reason, Ten Hag decided to play a high attack with a deep defensive line last season, leaving too much gaps in midfield every game. I am not buying the idea that Casemiro is finished, because he simply had way too much to do. The overall structure of the team was terrible. Even if Casemiro is moving, I am sure we could get a decent CDM if we want to move to double 8.

I do not see us moving away from the 4231 though with Bruno to play every game, and with how inflexible Ten Hag has proven himself to be. I am wondering if there is a way we could play four in midfield with Bruno at the tip like Real Madrid have been doing with Bellingham, but it is unlikely again with Ten Hag here. Hopefully we will have a better structure next season regardless of formation, but the double 8 is the formation I fancy the most especially if you have two excellent ball carriers and short passers in Mainoo and potentially, Neves.
 

Rojofiam

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Well, we still have Casemiro. For some reason, Ten Hag decided to play a high attack with a deep defensive line last season, leaving too much gaps in midfield every game. I am not buying the idea that Casemiro is finished, because he simply had way too much to do. The overall structure of the team was terrible. Even if Casemiro is moving, I am sure we could get a decent CDM if we want to move to double 8.

I do not see us moving away from the 4231 though with Bruno to play every game, and with how inflexible Ten Hag has proven himself to be. I am wondering if there is a way we could play four in midfield with Bruno at the tip like Real Madrid have been doing with Bellingham, but it is unlikely again with Ten Hag here. Hopefully we will have a better structure next season regardless of formation, but the double 8 is the formation I fancy the most especially if you have two excellent ball carriers and short passers in Mainoo and potentially, Neves.
Casemiro would very likely perform better if we switched back to the 22/23 season's approach, but it's not like he hasn't shown clear signs of physical decline either. Most of the time this season, the guy couldn't control the ball, as if he was Lukaku, or make simple, short passes.
 

Lash

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Isn't Neves supposed to be a top professional? Martinez said he was very mature and gained the respect of the locker room in 2 days. Not sure, but that puts it over the top for me. Would be great for our future culture apart from being talented. Mainoo fits that too.
Supposedly, yes. Very much so. Bruno has had fantastic things to say about him and he's regularly played above his age groups and never looked like the youngest on the pitch.
 

Fortitude

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So say you sign Neves, Archie Gray, maybe a Yoro, to add to Garnacho, Mainoo, Hojlund and Amad. Who's the senior players they build into and learn from? Onana, Shaw, Maguire, Dalot, Martinez, Bruno, Rashford? Nearly all of which have been questioned regarding form, fitness or even worse, some of them their attitude? So you have a bunch or U21 players and a bunch of seniors many don't think are good enough.
These days, it’s harder to tell who our leaders and mentors actually are; I wouldn’t simply turn round and say it’s age-based nor experience-based, if that experience is of being a middling player or of having a relatively unspectacular career. Of course, off the pitch, or even in terms of how to conduct oneself, youngsters can draw resources from a great number of people around them.

If we are to assume, from what is at the club: Bruno, Martinez, Shaw, Evans* and Casemiro/Eriksen all have it about them to guide. Neves would almost certainly be sponsored by Bruno should he come here, and Dalot is one maturing before our eyes, who will have plenty to impart should he need to.

We don’t have beacons ala Keane, Adams, Vieira, and Scholes etc. but Martinez in particular is highly likely to be taking on this level of leadership and presence around the club as his influence on others is obvious.

What a well oiled machine has is experts, or thereabouts in each position that the rookies learn directly or indirectly from, but we, as a squad are absolutely miles off that, so it’s not a factor in this discussion and we will have to make do until the 1st xi is established enough that understudies and rotation options have something to aspire to usurp, whilst in the interim learning vicariously from.

If it did so happen to come to pass that we do land a number of elite youngsters who go straight into the 1st xi, consider it an Ajax ‘95 or Barca of the last years situation; not unprecedented and certainly not unworkable.
 
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Gabriel Djemba-Bebe

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Our biggest problem last season was how open we were through the middle. Even with a dedicated DM like Casemiro, it was kind of easy to bypass us.

Bruno is at his best when he's closer to goal so he'll gravitate forward whether we have the ball or not so support from him is inconsistent. Mainoo is really a B2B midfielder w2ith more offensive contributions so he's not going to be playing deeper always. If you throw in another player of the same ilk in midfield we'll be getting overrun every now and then like we were this whole season.

What we need in my view is a Rodri or Carrick type who can shield the back 4 but also get on the ball and create. With some support from Mainoo and occasionally Bruno, that'd be the ideal setup I think although it's a bit hard to find players of that ilk.
I thought a lot of that was down to Casemiro being immobile/not giving a feck. Once we started playing Amrabat next to Mainoo, we were less open through the middle as we had a midfielder who was both defensively disciplined and willing to cover more ground. Bruno and Mainoo as 8s in front of a mobile 6 next season can be effective.
 

Bwuk

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I'd be happy for us to move away from the 4-2-3-1 with him in it and adopt the 4-3-1-2 ala Madrid.

Onana
Dalot - XXX - Martinez - Shaw
Neves - XXX - Mainoo
Bruno
Hojlund - Garnacho​
 

romufc

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I thought a lot of that was down to Casemiro being immobile/not giving a feck. Once we started playing Amrabat next to Mainoo, we were less open through the middle as we had a midfielder who was both defensively disciplined and willing to cover more ground. Bruno and Mainoo as 8s in front of a mobile 6 next season can be effective.
I mean we saw Casemiro on numerous occasions diving into tackles up the field when he is the DM, what do people think will happen when he goes sliding in ? I dont think he got the ball on many of them tackles and the player on the ball just ran to our defence.

Sometimes its more about having bodies behind the ball than needing 2 DM's. There were times we played Mainoo as our DM as well.
 

Gabriel Djemba-Bebe

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I mean we saw Casemiro on numerous occasions diving into tackles up the field when he is the DM, what do people think will happen when he goes sliding in ? I dont think he got the ball on many of them tackles and the player on the ball just ran to our defence.

Sometimes its more about having bodies behind the ball than needing 2 DM's. There were times we played Mainoo as our DM as well.
Exactly. People are overestimating how much surgery our midfield needs because of how bad Casemiro made us look last season. A disciplined DM is all we urgently need. Any other midfield signing would be a bonus.
 

RuudTom83

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I'd be happy for us to move away from the 4-2-3-1 with him in it and adopt the 4-3-1-2 ala Madrid.

Onana
Dalot - XXX - Martinez - Shaw
Neves - XXX - Mainoo
Bruno
Hojlund - Garnacho​
It's a different thread...but i was thinking about a similar frontline, it also reduces the need to another CF this summer as you would be picking 2 from Hojlund, Rashford, Garnacho and 1 from Bruno and Amad.