The McFred midfield duo

bugmat

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We were okay in the first-half against Leicester, but fell part in the second half. Also, the attacking players put in a proper shift in today, something that won't happen in every game. Despite all that, they got passed easily and we conceded 2 goals. There was no midfield control, lets get that right.
So it was the two CMs fault that 1. Maguire & Shaw don't know how to cut out a cross or spring an offside trap and 2. that shaw, lindelof & maguire can't contest a header? OK. Fred alone made more cut-outs & clearances in our box than either CB second half.

The real issue is that they shouldn't be a duo - we should be playing 3 man midfields.
 

bugmat

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Doesn't matter who was in midfield, you can't play 4 2 4 and expect any sort of domination.

Bruno dropping deeper in the 2nd half was the difference
This is exactly it. People keep blaming what is our best two man midfield..rather than realising the structure of a two man midfield is our problem. We need 3 players in our midfield (as most top teams do the past half a decade or more).
 

city-puma

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We played the majority of the 2nd half without the McFred duo so how about we discuss who terms we being played on in the 1st half.

I knew this would happen. McTom start a game we eventually win & despite the fact the duo aren’t responsible for the win they’re given credit by default of starting the game. The duo were broken up with the score at 1-2, momentum had swung but for the majority of the 66 minutes they were on the pitch together we were the lesser side.
Are you serious?! I think you have completely lost any reasoning and analytic ability. Please rewatch the two goals we conceded. The first was a messed up on left (Lindelof and Shaw) and Lindelof should take the most blame. The second was from the set piece.
Buddy, you need to at least be reasonable, don’t you?
 

bosnian_red

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But Leicester are better coached. . .
They definitely are... a lot of the time, superior player quality will make the difference in the end, but a well coached team can really make a poorly coached team look like amateurs, which happens with us.
 

NZT-One

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I was at both games. McFred were easily as open as the Leicester game. Only difference is Leicester are a far better team. We were completely open in both matches.
I think that is at least debatable. Atalanta is certainly more known for their offensive hunger than Leicester is. And looking at the whoscored data for both games, McFred combined had 10 tackles and interception, while Pogba and Matic combined had 5 (2+2 from Matic by the way). Plus as many have said, we contained Atalanta relatively well plus had both of them joining attacks plus securing defense. When I talk about McFred providing a better base, I don't mean their defensive prowess which isn't great (but still the best of all combinations tried so far) but because they provide the best balance for the team because their movement means they will be able to be outlets for their teammates.
 

cyril C

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McFred may not be, and certainly not IMO, the best MF in the world/EPL, but they are the best combo that we can play, against good side. They provide the most stable platform for the rest of the team to shine.

I read criticism on CR that he only on average press 4.x times a game, come on, what do you expect from a 36 years old? We can afford to be more flexible against weaker side, but on important games, play 2 of Matic, Fred, McTom, rest CR if necessary and don't get bully by the press/fan, pick Bruno whenever you can, then the rest by form.
 

Flytan

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McTominay is having a really bad season. McFred is already mediocre/cowardly/bad but McTominay is having a horrible season so it's compounding it. I don't know if he has lingering injury issues or what
 

ThemanGiggsy

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Few things. I do think after player alright tonight. Yes, McT runs a lot, but certainly his inability to play a decent pass and control the ball in midfield is his main drawback. Seems almost too obvious to try VDB and Fred.

also agree with whoever said the difference was Bruno dropping back and helping. Another reason why it could also be effective to have matic/Fred/DVB/McT sitting behind Logan and Bruno in a 3 and not shoehorn Bruno in a false9 almos. We have too much attacking talent to play pogba on the wing.

Does anyone remember if we have tried Fred and DVB together?
 

suheilsworld

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McT looks way off pace this season and needs to be benched for a while. Would love to see a Pogba Fred midfield with Bruno at 10 and Greenwood, Ronaldo and Rashford up top.
We used it against Wolves and hasn’t been tried again.
 

Escobar

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McTominay is having a really bad season. McFred is already mediocre/cowardly/bad but McTominay is having a horrible season so it's compounding it. I don't know if he has lingering injury issues or what
Yet Ole keeps playing him. This will be a major reason why he just wont make it
 

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I think that is at least debatable. Atalanta is certainly more known for their offensive hunger than Leicester is. And looking at the whoscored data for both games, McFred combined had 10 tackles and interception, while Pogba and Matic combined had 5 (2+2 from Matic by the way). Plus as many have said, we contained Atalanta relatively well plus had both of them joining attacks plus securing defense. When I talk about McFred providing a better base, I don't mean their defensive prowess which isn't great (but still the best of all combinations tried so far) but because they provide the best balance for the team because their movement means they will be able to be outlets for their teammates.
Fred maybe. McTominay? He is absolutely atrocious at moving into space and making himself available to receive the ball. It's why he constantly gets on the ball over 20% less than any of our other midfielders. Even in this game he constantly ran away from the position we needed him to be in to give ourselves a midfield option.
 

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McT is the problem. Not Fred. Remove McT and we play something at least. With him, we don't play at all
Despite all the shit he gets, Fred showed how incredibly important he is to us. Hes the only one who adds some bite to our midfield and he quite often wins the ball in good positions, casuing dangerous turnovers

I dont know what it is with McTomminay this season, but the game just seems to pass him by without him getting involved, and thats a big fecking problem for a midfielder.

Was it vs Leichester or Everton where he had less touches and passes then Ronaldo? Thats abysmal
 

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That isn't true in my eyes. Last weekend showed how empty a midfield can look with Pogba in it. He especially is extremely effected by the occasion and the opponent. He can be brilliant and he can be abysmal. He certainly is the most talented midfielder we have, but he probably is also the one who (averages) the least commitment, urgency, drive. You know what you get with McFred, you never know, what you might get with Pogba. He has all the tools for brilliant moments but in midfield, it is way more important to increase your baseline performance, than to increase you peak performance. That lessons was taught us by Scholes and Carrick, who usually weren't brilliant in any game, but they kept us ticking without any fuss, without mistakes. In theory, an actual 3-man-midfield (without a nominal 10) with McFred and Pogba/Donny might be very worth a try but we won't see that as long as we don't find another role for Bruno. And as long as we want to field an attack consisting of three strikers plus Bruno, we have to balance that.

For all the criticism which certainly isn't coming out of nowhere, I think, it needs to be noted, that McFred is by far the most functional one. But we have to make it work just like any other team has to find a solution to some numerical situations. We didn't have any kind of control in midfield in any game in the last 2 years. It isn't what we are trying to do. There is no point in waiting for our players to display that.
Nail on head.

Pogba have had some truly phenomenal midfield performances, but his average baseline performance leaves a lot to be desired and tend to makes us incredibly imbalanced and top heavy if we play our regular formation
 

kouroux

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Nail on head.

Pogba have had some truly phenomenal midfield performances, but his average baseline performance leaves a lot to be desired and tend to makes us incredibly imbalanced and top heavy if we play our regular formation
I don't think I've read a better description of the situation. I still like Pogba and I'm a sucker for moments of magic on the pitch though
 

AFC NimbleThumb

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Are you serious?! I think you have completely lost any reasoning and analytic ability. Please rewatch the two goals we conceded. The first was a messed up on left (Lindelof and Shaw) and Lindelof should take the most blame. The second was from the set piece.
Buddy, you need to at least be reasonable, don’t you?
I’ve watched the goals lad.

Lindelof wonders, as his known to do - I’ve given up on this guy. Which means one of the ‘defensively aware’ midfield need to drop in. McT does this & Palasic ghosts in behind him for McT to only react when it’s far too late.

Lindelof shouldn’t be out a Left Back. Shaw should close the crosser. Maguire should drop further to try to be in line with the cross. Fred as usual has attempted & failed a tackle meaning he’s out of position to actually help & McT when covering for Lindelof needs to be far more aware of Passaic.

If you think McT does the job of a defensively astute covering midfielder then you’re lost. He gets run off time & again.

As for the second goal, there was a poster in here remarking how well he defends set pieces. That too, is a lie.
 

justsomebloke

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I’ve watched the goals lad.

Lindelof wonders, as his known to do - I’ve given up on this guy. Which means one of the ‘defensively aware’ midfield need to drop in. McT does this & Palasic ghosts in behind him for McT to only react when it’s far too late.

Lindelof shouldn’t be out a Left Back. Shaw should close the crosser. Maguire should drop further to try to be in line with the cross. Fred as usual has attempted & failed a tackle meaning he’s out of position to actually help & McT when covering for Lindelof needs to be far more aware of Passaic.

If you think McT does the job of a defensively astute covering midfielder then you’re lost. He gets run off time & again.

As for the second goal, there was a poster in here remarking how well he defends set pieces. That too, is a lie.
I agree that goal is primarily on McT. He's picked up Palasic, and then loses him. You can argue Maguire should be further in to cut out the cross too, but there's only one Atalanta player in there who can get to it, and that's McT's guy.
 

justsomebloke

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I think that is at least debatable. Atalanta is certainly more known for their offensive hunger than Leicester is. And looking at the whoscored data for both games, McFred combined had 10 tackles and interception, while Pogba and Matic combined had 5 (2+2 from Matic by the way). Plus as many have said, we contained Atalanta relatively well plus had both of them joining attacks plus securing defense. When I talk about McFred providing a better base, I don't mean their defensive prowess which isn't great (but still the best of all combinations tried so far) but because they provide the best balance for the team because their movement means they will be able to be outlets for their teammates.
I agree with you that our midfield looked better than the one we fielded against Leicester (although that is not saying much). Notably, for the first time in a while we didn't get burned on the counter very much. However, I don't agree that we contained Atalanta even relatively well. They had far too easy a time of it playing their way upfield, in the absence of not just any form of systematic high press, but even of rudimentary pressure on the ball carrier, including deep in our own half. We just dropped deep, kept shape and hoped for the best.
 

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Thought they were both really bad in the first half - not helped by the fact that Bruno was basically playing up front with Ronaldo sure - but on the ball, they weren't showing for the ball enough, and when they were on the ball, the quality generally wasn't good.

Was it just me or did they barely pass to each other? Usually you'd see midfielders knock the ball between each other quite a lot, but it felt like they hardly played to one another.

Second half was a lot better from Fred, but less so from McT who was rightfully subbed.
 

Ixion

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I don't mind either player to be honest, I don't think they're world beaters but they're both decent squad players. The formation leaves them exposed time and time again so they get overwhelmed, played through etc. Bruno barely drops back to help, Greenwood never offers anything defensively, Rashford wasn't doing much etc. You need to defend as a team which we decided to do only after going in front. Unless we do that from the start against a side like Liverpool we'll get smashed.
 

laughtersassassin

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Last night was yet another game that shows the thought that McFred are Easily our best Midfield is false.

They are just as flawed as any other Midfield we put out.

Was not surprised to see the comeback. Atalanta remind me of Leeds in that they are so open it suits how we play.

McTominay biggest flaw seems to be how little he gets on th ball in most games. Bad trait for a Midfielder.
 
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Did we even play that badly first half? We were more attacking and should have scored 3 or 4 while limiting Atalanta to very little.
Anyone criticising McFred is mental imo, the forwards finally had some sort of base to play off of and we had honest to God support high up the field
I agree. To me our 4-2-4 shape (that caysed the first goal), a defensive error and profligacy killed us first half. It had nothing to do with mc-fred
 

tomaldinho1

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Fred despite his issues is key to our frantic, unstructured style. McT just simply isn’t good enough consistently.
 

Ixion

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The problem is neither are good enough as DM to be exposed by all our front players. They can't shield the back 4 entirely alone.
 

Josh 76

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I agree. To me our 4-2-4 shape (that caysed the first goal), a defensive error and profligacy killed us first half. It had nothing to do with mc-fred
It was the space between Mcfred and the forward players that was the issue. Atalanta looked dangerous with all that space.

I’ve said it many times, the team needs to be more compact. If that means the defence and MCfred pushing up a couple of yards or the forwards dropping back a little more and help out when we don’t have the ball. This is the major issue.
 

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What was obvious in the match was when Cavani came on, the Atalanta defence were shook, they didn't know how to deal with Ronaldo and Cavani together, it left Maguire free to clatter one in after a clever flick from Cavani.

Could we have a system where Ronaldo and Cavani are together? It sounds good as you have the workhorse in Cavani who also has world class movement and Ronaldo who simply must be dealt with.

Problem is the midfield, what is the best combo to go with?
 

NZT-One

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McT looks way off pace this season and needs to be benched for a while. Would love to see a Pogba Fred midfield with Bruno at 10 and Greenwood, Ronaldo and Rashford up top.
We used it against Wolves and hasn’t been tried again.
This could work if you a) make sure that Bruno doesn't get sucked upfield again and b) one of either Greenwood or Rashford lowers himself to put in a defensive shift (probably alternating). Otherwise, it is risky. Certainly too top heavy for the bigger games coming up, especially Liverpool where I hope we will make use of the gameplan we deployed against City in the last league victory.

From memory we played it against one of the weaker European teams we faced last season, and they actually looked fairly good. VDB's best game up to that point if I remember correctly, although he's had a couple of better ones since then.
Yeah you are right, we played with Donny and Fred against Young Boys Bern until AWBs red card. They were somewhat alright, not really shining but were fine. I agree, we should try this combination more often, especially Fred and Donny are moving quite a lot and they are trying to make the play fast, which might suit is pretty well. Both are missing really good sense of positioning though, rest of the team need to adjust to that.

Fred maybe. McTominay? He is absolutely atrocious at moving into space and making himself available to receive the ball. It's why he constantly gets on the ball over 20% less than any of our other midfielders. Even in this game he constantly ran away from the position we needed him to be in to give ourselves a midfield option.
I get where you are coming from. I don't think McTom is really fit, don't like the look of him in the last weeks and I totally agree on the issues you listed. I still think, that he suits some games more than Pogba does because I'd say McTom usually isn't known for doing something mad. He is calmly doing his stuff, not great but also not shit. Don't want to picture that as something awesome, but it has its value, just like Pogbas brilliant moments have a value as well. It is all a question how the team is setup alltogether and from what I think to understand from our way of playing, I am sure McFred suits us the best. We are trying to release the ball to the strikers as soon as possible, Bruno can do that, there is no need(in most games) to have Pogba in there for that as well. It is more important to be able to defend better as soon as the ball returns which it will quite often when you tend to make use of some many risky passes.

I agree with you that our midfield looked better than the one we fielded against Leicester (although that is not saying much). Notably, for the first time in a while we didn't get burned on the counter very much. However, I don't agree that we contained Atalanta even relatively well. They had far too easy a time of it playing their way upfield, in the absence of not just any form of systematic high press, but even of rudimentary pressure on the ball carrier, including deep in our own half. We just dropped deep, kept shape and hoped for the best.
I would sign up on that description no problem. Only thing is, we shouldn't expect a "real" organized form of pressing to appear out of thin air all of a sudden. I agree with you, we should look to implement something like it but this probably is a pretty difficult thing to implement, especially during the season, especially during a though run of fixtures. Unfortunately, it looks like we didn't make use of the relatively easy start for stuff like that.
All in all, I agree, we should try to look in some basic patters of pressing for the occasional use but a real system shouldn't be expected, in the sense we shouldn't be angry to not see it. I mean, where should it appear from all of a sudden. Our offensive players are greatly suited for it as well, without Varane we have no outlook to having a higher line, all that factors in in pressing not being a smart choice to employ for us. At least right now. (To a point where I would even start asking Bruno to stop his running as long as he is the only one doing it. Of course it looks great for him, nice bit of fan service, but without some sort of plan to be used within the whole group it is nothing but a waste of energy in my eyes)


What was obvious in the match was when Cavani came on, the Atalanta defence were shook, they didn't know how to deal with Ronaldo and Cavani together, it left Maguire free to clatter one in after a clever flick from Cavani.

Could we have a system where Ronaldo and Cavani are together? It sounds good as you have the workhorse in Cavani who also has world class movement and Ronaldo who simply must be dealt with.

Problem is the midfield, what is the best combo to go with?
I'd also like to see that but unfortunately, I don't really see a way to have them play like that with Bruno. No realistic way I mean. I'd definitely try some sort 4-2-2-2 or even some sort of 3-4-1-2 . It could work, issue is that we have to many strikers playing wing positions and not enough, say, wingback types. It is difficult to provide some balance with that, which might be one of the main reasons for this years struggles.
 
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It was the space between Mcfred and the forward players that was the issue. Atalanta looked dangerous with all that space.

I’ve said it many times, the team needs to be more compact. If that means the defence and MCfred pushing up a couple of yards or the forwards dropping back a little more and help out when we don’t have the ball. This is the major issue.
This time I believe it's the front 4 that were staying too far upfield without the ball first half. Leaving the back 4 and 2 deepest midfielders to defend against Atalanta's entire outfield force.
 

markhughes

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Honestly at this point I would just pack the midfield and try to gain some kind of defensive solidity in the team while trying to hit teams on the break, especially now Rashford is back at it. We cannot hope to get a result against any half decent team without first gaining some control in midfield, park the bus if we have too.
 

SuperiorXI

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I'd also like to see that but unfortunately, I don't really see a way to have them play like that with Bruno. No realistic way I mean. I'd definitely try some sort 4-2-2-2 or even some sort of 3-4-1-2 . It could work, issue is that we have to many strikers playing wing positions and not enough, say, wingback types. It is difficult to provide some balance with that, which might be one of the main reasons for this years struggles.
A three at the back system could work?

------------------------DDG
-----Varane-----Maguire-----Shaw
AWB----------Pogba-----Fred--------Rashford
----------------------Bruno
---------------Ronaldo---Cavani

Rashford would need to track back more and AWB would have to replicate his second-half form from last night consistently. Also, Bruno would need to drop deeper so we can have control in the midfield with Fred and Pogba.
 

Steven-UK

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Let's face it, neither player would get anywhere near any other top team. Fred is as good as he is bad (although has excellent passion and is very lively, something many other players with more ability should take note of). McTominay is simply average, and shouldn't be anywhere near a Manchester United shirt.
 

justsomebloke

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I would sign up on that description no problem. Only thing is, we shouldn't expect a "real" organized form of pressing to appear out of thin air all of a sudden. I agree with you, we should look to implement something like it but this probably is a pretty difficult thing to implement, especially during the season, especially during a though run of fixtures. Unfortunately, it looks like we didn't make use of the relatively easy start for stuff like that.
All in all, I agree, we should try to look in some basic patters of pressing for the occasional use but a real system shouldn't be expected, in the sense we shouldn't be angry to not see it. I mean, where should it appear from all of a sudden. Our offensive players are greatly suited for it as well, without Varane we have no outlook to having a higher line, all that factors in in pressing not being a smart choice to employ for us. At least right now. (To a point where I would even start asking Bruno to stop his running as long as he is the only one doing it. Of course it looks great for him, nice bit of fan service, but without some sort of plan to be used within the whole group it is nothing but a waste of energy in my eyes)
No, but I'm not even really talking about an organized system of pressing. You can perfectly well play defensively relying primarily on compact shape instead of pressing, and we have done just that in the past, but even then (or perhaps especially then), conventional wisdom dictates there needs to be pressure on the opposing player carrying the ball. Otherwise it becomes much too easy to break down a team defending in that way. You give away exactly what the opposition needs in order to deal with a compact, balanced posture, which is time on the ball to make the right pass at the right time.
 

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I get where you are coming from. I don't think McTom is really fit, don't like the look of him in the last weeks and I totally agree on the issues you listed. I still think, that he suits some games more than Pogba does because I'd say McTom usually isn't known for doing something mad. He is calmly doing his stuff, not great but also not shit. Don't want to picture that as something awesome, but it has its value, just like Pogbas brilliant moments have a value as well. It is all a question how the team is setup alltogether and from what I think to understand from our way of playing, I am sure McFred suits us the best. We are trying to release the ball to the strikers as soon as possible, Bruno can do that, there is no need(in most games) to have Pogba in there for that as well. It is more important to be able to defend better as soon as the ball returns which it will quite often when you tend to make use of some many risky passes.
As much as Scott's lack of the most important aspects of being a midfielder does annoy me, I do agree that he's still generally the best option. That in itself shows how big of a problem it is. Pogba and Matic bring their own huge issues, and the set-up of our team (the front four not helping much) means we've got no choice but to go with the one who is a bit more solid defensively. As for VDB...well, he's generally been poor but I do have to say that for the first time I do think he's being hard done by as he has shown signs of starting to get to grips with the expectations lately.
 

CloneMC16

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Our midfield always gets blamed, but there are serious issues with how much space there is between them and the forward players. It doesn't matter who plays in midfield. The way we set up is not right. We defended better in the 2nd half when the whole team actually got their shit together and defended and worked as a unit. Even Ronaldo put a shift in and was helping at the back. This isn't me saying Ronaldo has been a problem. We've had the same defensive issues before he signed. The whole team worked harder in the 2nd half.

Paul Scholes talking on BT last night is the first time I've heard any pundit talk about how hard it is for our midfield to defend. There is far too much space to cover. He said Fred and McTominay have to constantly defend the flanks and that leaves the centre of the pitch open. We need the forwards to track back and help the rest of the team.

We still have major issues defending set pieces as well. I don't know what this new coach is doing. We're just as shit at defending them as were we last season.
 

NZT-One

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A three at the back system could work?

------------------------DDG
-----Varane-----Maguire-----Shaw
AWB----------Pogba-----Fred--------Rashford
----------------------Bruno
---------------Ronaldo---Cavani

Rashford would need to track back more and AWB would have to replicate his second-half form from last night consistently. Also, Bruno would need to drop deeper so we can have control in the midfield with Fred and Pogba.
Yeah I think, it could work. I think, yours could work, question would be, if Rashford could be motivated to play a more reserved role (keeping an eye on defense). Think, it would probably pan out to a more somewhat blurred 4-2-3-1 most of the time. I think, My take would be something like that:

Keeper
Lindelof Varane Maguire
Dalot Fred Donny/Pog Shaw/Telles
Bruno
Cavani Ronaldo

It would be pretty adjustable to the opponent or the actual game because with change in personnel, you could change the style preference of the team as well. If you want to go artillery when trying to force a goal, bring Pogba even further forward to go for headers together with Cavani and Ronaldo. If you want to counter against a better team, switch bring Rashford or Greenwood in and add Matic or McTom to the midfield. But no matter what the formation is, the most relevant matter is how we play as a team, how do we make sure, there is enough intensity throughout the game, how can we achieve being compact, how patient are we with the ball, how strictly do we want to enforce certain positions/ how much do we encourage free style.

I kind of like the look of it but also it would be a bit sad to see our attacking talent on the bench which is probably the main argument against such experiments. But even in our current formation, we have to find some sort of balance because being too top heavy emphasizes the missing strength in midfield.
 

NZT-One

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Berlin
No, but I'm not even really talking about an organized system of pressing. You can perfectly well play defensively relying primarily on compact shape instead of pressing, and we have done just that in the past, but even then (or perhaps especially then), conventional wisdom dictates there needs to be pressure on the opposing player carrying the ball. Otherwise it becomes much too easy to break down a team defending in that way. You give away exactly what the opposition needs in order to deal with a compact, balanced posture, which is time on the ball to make the right pass at the right time.
Yeah makes sense. That is definitely something we have to work on, because, exactly how I understand your point, I also don't see that the team as a whole has some sort of overarching plan for it. I.e. Bruno engages very early on, while the midfield lurks on the halfway line and the defense is trying to go even further back to make themselves more to difficult to run in behind. All three must be aligned. But actually my feeling is that Ole expects his players to figure stuff like that out of their own. Maybe he expects all the others to hunt players down like Bruno as well - we don't know.