Our midfield: do we have the right balance and if not what type of player(s) should we be looking for?

simplyared

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IMV we only have Bruno in the attacking midfield role who is delivering on a regular basis. Pogba has the ability no doubt to hold a key position. Whether that’s going to happen is, on the other hand, a different story. Matic can still do a job for us as DM but the signs of age are starting to creep in. Fred as much as he gives everything in every game, for me lacks important qualities to be a top performer. MacT has the attributes and potential to take on the roll as DM so I’m not too worried in that department. VDB we haven’t really seen what he brings to the table yet, but looking at his game time so far it does send out a wave of uncertainty.

So if you believe our midfield is where it should be then fine. If not which type of player(s) do you believe we need to strengthen that so important department and would Pogba be part of it?

Myself I’d be reckoning with the further development of McT because I believe he can be that good. Bruno goes without saying of course. I don’t believe Pogba as an option so he’s out for me. So for me we need a top class B2B more than anything.

It’s not going to happen but you can dream: Kevin de Bruyne would be my ideal player!

DM MacT
CM VDB
B2B De Bruyne
AM Bruno

Any other more feasible options to improve our midfield?
 

Ali Dia

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Anyone who’s watched Matic over the last few seasons surely knew that we got very very lucky with him at the end of last season. After the covid layoff he was fresh and the pace was slower and he became part of Oles preferred midfield again. By the end of the season he was back to his slow and predictable play and only really capable of playing one fixture a week. I couldn’t believe we signed him to a 3 year deal which never really happened with over 30s players before at United apart from Rooney and look how that turned out. He had one foot out the door before covid and now he’s back on the fringes but sitting on a 3 year deal. We simply should have upgraded. Our competition would have. As he’s our only DM it’s more really questionable recruitment and contract business from the club. Yes he’s an ok squad player but we can and should do a lot better and it’s been clear for years now. Our most pressing position after RW

Fred picks himself at this stage. Our most important player in the engine room.

Pogba: out and rightfully so. hopefully he can deliver a few good performances in rotation and off the bench in the meantime to keep his price up and put him in the shop window.

McT: Good squad player. Wont ever let you down for effort. He’s always good for a 6.5-7.5/10 game but I don’t think he’ll ever be a DM running the game

VDB: looks technically good. Not afraid of a tackle. He seems to need to play in Fred or Bruno’s position though.

It’s DM we a crying out for. Fred McT Donny and pogba can all play box to box but I don’t trust any of them at the base protecting the defence, breaking up attacks and spreading play fast.

Neves or Rice are the obvious choices left in the PL but surely there is value to be had in the smaller leagues. Partey would have been a super signing for a fair price. He’s a beast. I think you could play Donny and Bruno ahead of him in a league game
 
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Freak

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We just need a deep lying playmaker who is also good in his defensive work (i.e like a Carrick or a younger Matic). We have enough good attack minded and box to box midfielders.
 

Remember the geese

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I can see us moving towards a midfield that contains both Fernandes and Van de Beek. For this to work, I think we need a holding midfield player who is solid defensively, with a good range of passing. A Matic replacement/Michael Carrick type. City have had Fernandinho over the years and Liverpool have Fabinho. Fred and Mctominay are different types of players and have a place here, but aren't suitable for this role. Looking in-house, we have Garner and Galbraith who can possibly transition into this role, though I assume we will enter the market for this player. Who he is though, I have no idea.
 

Bilbo

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Pretty much

We currently have to play two players to the job of one effective DM.
There isn't a DM alive that could replicate what both Fred & McT do for us by himself. That isn't how we are going to integrate Donny in as a number 6. We'll have to make adjustments elsewhere, most likely by moving the defensive line up a few yards, which carries its own risks.

Matic is starting to look like an old man again though unfortunately, but I'm still hopeful that McTominay will continue to improve and that may mean that we won't need to look at a specialist DM so urgently.
 

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There isn't a DM alive that could replicate what both Fred & McT do for us by himself. That isn't how we are going to integrate Donny in as a number 6. We'll have to make adjustments elsewhere, most likely by moving the defensive line up a few yards, which carries its own risks.

Matic is starting to look like an old man again though unfortunately, but I'm still hopeful that McTominay will continue to improve and that may mean that we won't need to look at a specialist DM so urgently.
Well true, they are two men - but there are DM's who could do say 0.75 of it (if we're saying they're both 0.5's) ... if that makes sense?
 

Teja

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DM specialist, I've been wanting one for years. That would then give us more options on how we can line up tactically.
We just need a deep lying playmaker who is also good in his defensive work (i.e like a Carrick or a younger Matic). We have enough good attack minded and box to box midfielders.
/thread

It's painfully obvious what our midfield needs.
Have to disagree there, even when we have a proper DM (Matic) we ask him to play as an #8 as a part of the double pivot, press up high etc. Giving Ole an out and out DM would be terrible. A high energy CM who is also somewhat press resistant would be great. Not that we can get him, but Kante would be perfect for us right now.
 

#07

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What we've lost:


How we've replaced it:

 

RedSky

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Have to disagree there, even when we have a proper DM (Matic) we ask him to play as an #8 as a part of the double pivot, press up high etc. Giving Ole an out and out DM would be terrible. A high energy CM who is also somewhat press resistant would be great. Not that we can get him, but Kante would be perfect for us right now.
Matic doesn't have the pace to be considered a proper DM. He's a useful player to be able to settle a team down (like yesterday) as he's good with the ball and doesn't make dumb mistakes. But he is no way a DM specialist and not really suited to the modern high intensity pressing game.
 

Withnail

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Have to disagree there, even when we have a proper DM (Matic) we ask him to play as an #8 as a part of the double pivot, press up high etc. Giving Ole an out and out DM would be terrible. A high energy CM who is also somewhat press resistant would be great. Not that we can get him, but Kante would be perfect for us right now.
Matic is old and slow and can't be trusted back there on his own.

If we had a young mobile DM who could also pass a bit, we could play a 433.
 

Ekeke

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If we had a great pairing of CBs at the back it wouldnt matter.

We could play VDB and Pogba together, be great on the ball and in attack and just do a bit of defending to help the great CBs who dont need a lot of help.

But we didnt sign a top CB in the summer. Our current defensive pairing is okay, if we give them lots of protection. And that means we cant play with a luxury midfield mostly concerned with when we have the ball. So we pretty much require a McTominay, Fred or Matic to give a bit more protection and none of those are great DMs either. So we're still that bit vulnerable.

We could get an Ndidi or Casemiro and protect our okay CB pairing, or we could get a great CB who doesnt need so much help and be able to play our best ball playing midfielders in most of our matches. That was the case before the summer and its the case now too
 

Bubz27

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Someone who can dictate from deeper. Recycle possession, keep it moving forward and quickly. A Carrick type who's more press-resistant than he was. I loved Carrick but he could be pressed and pressured. Maybe a more reliable and consistent midfield partner would've helped him.
 

Bilbo

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Well true, they are two men - but there are DM's who could do say 0.75 of it (if we're saying they're both 0.5's) ... if that makes sense?
Yeah I'm with you. If we look at what Fred and McTominay bring us now from a defensive aspect, its actually very good. They get about the pitch, they are positionally aware but most importantly they have chemistry together. What they lack most is for want of a better word playmaking ability - both are capable of passing through the lines but they don't do it enough. Those two players are strong DM's in my eyes though. The big question we'll hopefully have answered in the next few weeks is whether we can integrate Donny into one of those two positions.
 

Lee565

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I think the balance is there, I would like to see tuanzebe played as the defensive midfielder, he ticks the boxes in ways fred and matic in that role don't in terms of his speed, mobility, strength, aerial presence etc.., he's decent on the ball as well and defensively he is good. Ole himself said he can play in midfield and you see past and present of defenders playing effectively in the defensive midfield position like ledley king, marquinhos, o'shea, phil neville etc...
 

romufc

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If we had a great pairing of CBs at the back it wouldnt matter.

We could play VDB and Pogba together, be great on the ball and in attack and just do a bit of defending to help the great CBs who dont need a lot of help.

But we didnt sign a top CB in the summer. Our current defensive pairing is okay, if we give them lots of protection. And that means we cant play with a luxury midfield mostly concerned with when we have the ball. So we pretty much require a McTominay, Fred or Matic to give a bit more protection and none of those are great DMs either. So we're still that bit vulnerable.

We could get an Ndidi or Casemiro and protect our okay CB pairing, or we could get a great CB who doesnt need so much help and be able to play our best ball playing midfielders in most of our matches. That was the case before the summer and its the case now too
Because both our CB's have no pace. We have to drop deep to protect them leaving alot of space to play infront of them.

If we have a quick CB we could play a higher line and suffocate teams alot more.
 

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Have to agree with Mark Goldbridge on that McFred is one person who occupies two positions on the field and still lacks passing. We MUST invest in a DM who can be a McFred (plus passing). He and Sancho would cost tons of money but it will be worth every penny.
 

jamesjimmybyrondean

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Bruno is the constant whatever the opposition. It's finding the double pivot behind him that's the problem. Mctominay and Fred should be the first choice against tough teams but they shouldn't be paired together against lower sides as they don't offer creativity to break down low blocks. But any other double pivot options without Mctominay and Fred will leave us vulnerable in defense and easy to bypass.

Scott Fred
Bruno VdB Martial
Cavani
I think we should try this as the front four are excellent in link up play which can open up low blocks
 

#07

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Lovely video of Carrick. Thanks for sharing.
No worries.

If we could find one defensive midfielder who can pass through the lines like Carrick it would revolutionise our team. We've got plenty of endeavour in that position. Once they win it though they can't do much with it. Last night I saw so many times when Telles was flying forward, Rashford was on the run, or Bruno was floating in front of the opposition back four and I was waiting for someone to ping it over the top or through like Carrick used to...

...just didn't happen.

Carrick used to win the ball and then move it. We have nobody who comes close to him. We have specialists, either all work or all silk, but no real all rounders.
 

bosnian_red

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Our front 3 isn't balanced in terms of suiting each other, our fullbacks aren't balanced in terms of suiting the wingers, our midfield isn't balance to suit each other.
  • If we want Wan Bissaka at right back, we need more creative player on the right who will hold more width. More creative than scorer.
  • Telles left back with Martial/Rashford ahead is fine for balance
  • Rashford/Martial/Greenwood as a front 3 is 3 goalscorers, none being creators. Martial likes to drop deep, rashford likes to be on the ball, only Greenwood is a poacher type who can live without the ball at his feet (and Cavani now). Needs one of those 3 to create though, or if not, the fullbacks to give natural creative width like that. Sancho makes sense here.
  • Midfield, Bruno and Pogba are basically #10's, who are at their best with the main creative role. Can go 433 or 4231, but both together leaves the team unbalanced. Van de Beek can partner either as a more reserved role, but probably needs a more defensive holding mid/stronger defensively than Fred is. Matic when he was younger would be nice. Or a Keane...
  • Center backs up until now haven't proven to really be good enough individually or as a group. Hard to say conclusively for any of them, but if Maguire is the main, then he needs a fast partner who is comfortable on the ball and commanding like Upamecano.
Ideally if we're building a team we need to plug these gaps:
De Gea/Henderson
Wan Bissaka - Maguire - ???? - Telles
????
Bruno/Pogba - Van de Beek
??? - Greenwood/Cavani - Rashford/Martial
We'll see Rashford on the right of the front 3 for a bit now I think, but the balance would be better balanced with what we have as on the right I think he more naturally takes on a creative/wide role while also being a threat off the ball with his runs. Otherwise on the left he comes in, martial drops into the same space and Greenwood comes in on the same space too. Doesn't work.
 

OleBoiii

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Our midfield is good on paper, but it's not very balanced. Every player apart from Bruno(and probably VDB, but it's early days still) seems to have at least one glaring weakness.

Matic:
Old and slow. A good option off the bench because of his experience.

McTominay:
Not a good passer. This is the only thing holding him back, but it's also the most important skill of a midfielder.

Pogba:
Inconsistent and poor defensively. Should probably play AM, but Bruno is miles ahead. We also have VDB ready to step up.

Fred:
Our best midfielder after Bruno(and possibly VDB). He's a bit sloppy, though. I don't feel too comfortable with him as our DM, as he loses possession a little too often for my taste.

__________________________________

Conclusion:
Sell Pogba, buy DM for 50-60 million.

-- New DM --
Fred - Bruno

VDB starts instead of Fred against teams that park the bus.
 

Strelok

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If only. Would be the ideal midfielder.
He's probably the best mid in the world now.

Joking aside. Well Bruno has to play. I'd buy Rice to play as a 6. Then buy Ward Prowse to play as a 8.

Sorry I really like Fred and McT but I don't rate both very high.
 

romufc

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He's probably the best mid in the world now.

Joking aside. Well Bruno has to play. I'd buy Rice to play as a 6. Then buy Ward Prowse to play as a 8.

Sorry I really like Fred and McT but I don't rate both very high.
Yeah, he is. Absolute beast.

I like Rice but I do not see him as an enforcer. If we do buy a CDM like Rice, I would rather see us buy a fast CB which means in home games we can play DOnny and Bruno.
 

jamesjimmybyrondean

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What DMs can we get? Rice Neves and Ndidi will cost a fortune. Zakaria remains to be seen how he performs after he returns.
 

romufc

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What DMs can we get? Rice Neves and Ndidi will cost a fortune. Zakaria remains to be seen how he performs after he returns.
Anyone from the prem will be £60m plus

Most of us know we need a DM, I hope our scouts are looking our for DM's across Europe.
 

Strelok

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Yeah, he is. Absolute beast.

I like Rice but I do not see him as an enforcer. If we do buy a CDM like Rice, I would rather see us buy a fast CB which means in home games we can play DOnny and Bruno.
May I ask why you do not see him as an enforcer?

Anyone from the prem will be £60m plus

Most of us know we need a DM, I hope our scouts are looking our for DM's across Europe.
Well even Fred cost us £50m. Good DM these days are very rare and every top club need at least a good one. Unless we do another Bruno we'll have to pay I think.
 

romufc

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May I ask why you do not see him as an enforcer?


Well even Fred cost us £50m. Good DM these days are very rare and every top club need at least a good one. Unless we do another Bruno we'll have to pay I think.
Maybe I haven't watched enough of him, from what I have seen he is a good player but I would want my DM to be quick at putting fires out, don't let the CB's exposed. I just feel he lacks that aggression.

He may well develop into that type of player, I haven't seen him do what someone like Fabinho, Fernandinho does.

Its like Rodri, I am sure a few on here would have him in the team because he is very good on the ball but off the ball he is very slow, I saw Harry Kane out pace him.
 

jamesjimmybyrondean

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May I ask why you do not see him as an enforcer?


Well even Fred cost us £50m. Good DM these days are very rare and every top club need at least a good one. Unless we do another Bruno we'll have to pay I think.
This is why I think we should have gotten Partey. Any top proven DM we are getting is going to cost a fortune and he was available for 45m. Not linked with a single DM with the little we spent last window. The Matic 3 year deal is also a joke
 

NB891

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Kimmich would be perfect for us, but absolutely no chance he leaves Bayern. We need someone who can dictate the play, take the pressure off the CB's and just sit there and spray passes, putting a foot in etc. As many of you have said, Carrick would be ideal. However, I think Neves would be a good fit. He's gettable, needs a move and has the profile of player that can help us build more from deep. Should be a priority of ours between now and next season, saw last night how much we needed one.
 

Strelok

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Maybe I haven't watched enough of him, from what I have seen he is a good player but I would want my DM to be quick at putting fires out, don't let the CB's exposed. I just feel he lacks that aggression.

He may well develop into that type of player, I haven't seen him do what someone like Fabinho, Fernandinho does.

Its like Rodri, I am sure a few on here would have him in the team because he is very good on the ball but off the ball he is very slow, I saw Harry Kane out pace him.
I see. Of course he can't do what Fabinho and Fernandinho does, he's only 21.

Tbh I only watched him a few matches but I'm of the opinion that he's already one of the best DM in the league atm. Despite his age. And he'll be a really really good one in one or two years. When he reaches his peak.

He's very strong but quick enough. Strong tackle. Good anticipation and he read the game really well. Good positioning. So he made quite a number of good interceptions. He's a quite decent passer as well.

And I heard he can play as a CB as well. Imo he'd be a pretty good CB.

This is why I think we should have gotten Partey. Any top proven DM we are getting is going to cost a fortune and he was available for 45m. Not linked with a single DM with the little we spent last window. The Matic 3 year deal is also a joke
Well what could you expect from Ed and his highschool mate? We should thank feck that we were able to do transfers I think.
 

automaticflare

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Center Back is a problem. We can't play high because we are too slow. As long as we have that, we need a DM who will play behind the ball for 95% of games.
 

Ekeke

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Because both our CB's have no pace. We have to drop deep to protect them leaving alot of space to play infront of them.

If we have a quick CB we could play a higher line and suffocate teams alot more.
Its not just pace imo, but quality too. Lindelof with pace would still be too weak for us to play without a proper DM against a decent team
 

Walters_19_MuFc

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Whilst Ole is here, the 4231 is here to stay and I'm glad because I feel it's a formation that is the most balanced.

Regards our midfield, I would categorize our midfielders into the following:

Fred - Ball winner - Presses the ball superbly well and loves to get around the pitch. Unfortunately, when played as the deepest midfielder, it means he can leave gaps in behind.

Matic - Anchor man/Deep lying playmaker - More often than not, he'll hold his position as the deepest midfielder. Reads the game relatively well and will normally be the midfielder to drop in between the defence and start play. Unfortunately, he now struggles with the intensity of most games.

McTominay - Ball winner - Like Fred, when tasked with pressing and winning the ball, McTominay does a fantastic job. Whilst the two are getting better on the ball, they haven't got the ability to control games and are much suited to getting 'stuck in', rather than being 'elegant'.

Pogba - Regista - When on form, Pogba is our best passer, in my opinion, especially long-range passing. For most of Ole's tenure, Pogba has played deep in a 4231, where he has been tasked with getting on the ball and feeding the front four. Pogba can play passes most could only dream of but I find, more often than not, he is looking for the killer pass, instead of knowing when to play short, switch play, one-touch, etc.

The other day against France I said he had a good game because he did the simple but effective things. Kept the game flowing and allowed the front four to attack.

On paper, Pogba, partnered with any of the above midfielders should work because he should be that player to control the game for us but unfortunately, it hasn't gone to plan. He just feels the need to take unnecessary risks at times or try something special (maybe he's trying to justify his price). That, and defensively, we don't always look secure with Pogba playing deep. Same can be said about Van de Beek, who we saw featuring deep against Istanbul on home and away. Not solely his fault for us looking so open but I can obviously see why Ole has now opted for the tried and trusted Fred and McTominay, especially in the 'tougher' games.

What player should we be looking at?

I've always liked the look of playing a ball winner/box to box players with a deep-lying playmaker in a double pivot.

I look at some of the successful teams in the past that have played a 4231 and they have gone with a similar format.

For example,

Ajax 18/19 - De Jong (Deep-lying playmaker) - Schone (Ball winner/box to box)

Bayern Munich 19/20 - Kimmich (Deep-lying playmaker) - Goretzka (box to box)

Dortmund 14/15 - Gundogan (Deep-lying playmaker) - Bender (ball winner/box to box)

Those are just a few examples but it does seem to work well and has a nice balance to it.

Now, when I look at the current midfielders we have, in Fred and McTominay, we have two relatively good ball-winning, combative midfielders. What the lack, however, is someone who can sit deep, control the game, and allow them to use their dynamism to press up the pitch.

I don't really know who could come in and fulfill that role for us but that is the type of midfielder I feel we need.

I was desperate for us to sign Thiago when it became known he wanted to leave Bayern but unfortunately, it didn't happen.

I have always been a fan of Fabian Ruiz of Napoli. Someone who has a good passing range, comfortable on the ball, and has the ability to dictate games.

Either way, going forward, I'd like us to set up like:


Bruno/Van de Beek
DLP - Fred/McTominay