Having no central midfielder is holding United back

(Getty)

In one sense, Manchester United are not short in central midfield. They have 12 players in the first-team squad who have played in that position; even Rio Ferdinand has been tried there in the past. In this case, however, more is emphatically less. The strength of Sir Alex Ferguson’s will is such that United can overcome almost any obstacle to win trophies, yet trying to do so without a central midfield is not particularly advisable.

Michael Carrick is the main constant in United’s midfield. He is an excellent player with outstanding positional sense, still underrated despite so much glaring evidence over the past 10 years. But he is a gentle soul, a passer not a fighter, and his presence has contributed to the troubling recent phenomenon of United being bullied, often on their own patch.

It’s easy to blame Glazernomics for all of this, but while their disgraceful reign has palpably had an enormous impact on the club, Ferguson has spent about £190m over the past five years without buying a single central midfielder. (You might count Phil Jones and Nick Powell, although their original positions were elsewhere.) The replacement for Scholes turned out to be… Scholes. That expenditure has included luxury signings such as Dimitar Berbatov, Bébé and Robin van Persie, a glorious player, but certainly not the most pressing priority this summer. It’s akin to blowing your last pounds on a plasma screen when you can’t afford bread and milk.

It is difficult to understand Ferguson’s reasoning. He clearly has faith in the likes of Cleverley and Fletcher, though there may be a degree of sentiment in the latter. Perhaps he has a blind spot, as Arsène Wenger did with defenders for so long. It’s also true that there hasn’t been a no-brainer signing, as there was when Keane became available in 1993, although Dembélé and Javi Martínez, who joined Bayern Munich from Athletic Bilbao this summer, would surely have significantly improved United’s midfield.

Read the entire article by Rob Smyth on how “Having no dominant central midfielder is holding United back

Also read “World class “water carriers” – The importance of holding midfielders

and an article on Yahya Toure – The Toure Role?

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Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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