The building blocks of any solid/successful team in football is the midfield. It’s basic. When you look at all the great teams over the years, the midfield has been the spring to their success. Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona and Vicente Del Bosque’s Spain are perfect illustrations to the point being made here. In Spain’s National Team you have Xabi Alonso, Xavi, Iniesta, Busquets etc providing the base and structure. At Barca, It’s Xavi-Busquets-Iniesta and even recently, In Juup Heynckes’ treble winning Bayern Munich side, there was a double pivot of Javi Martinez & Schweinsteiger to provide solidity and rigidness,
At Manchester United it’s a different case. When you look at Manchester United’s midfield the only one who may enter any other European team’s midfield is Michael Carrick. Tom Cleverley is a decent squad player to have, nothing more than that. Since the injury he suffered at the start of the 2011/12 season away at Bolton, Tom Cleverley has shockingly declined. Then there’s Anderson. KFC’s best customer. Inconsistency and Lack of match fitness are the words normally associated with the Brazilian. Since he signed for Manchester United in the summer of 2007 for an astounding €30,000,000, Anderson hasn’t managed a single consistent season. ‘The new Ronaldinho’ (his nickname in Portugal) in his 8 years at United has only managed 173 appearances. That’s roughly 21/22 games a season. For a player who cost €30M that’s absolutely ludicrous. With Paul Scholes’ recent retirement, Darren Fletcher’s condition and lack of signings, specifically central midfielders, United don’t look convincing. An enforcer/holding midfielder is badly needed in the team. Since Roy Keane departed the club, the closest United have had to an enforcer is Darren Fletcher – who has suffered invariably with illness. Tom Cleverley and Carrick aren’t known for their defensive duties. On the ball, Michael Carrick is one of the best players in England, without it, not quite sure. He is more of a regista/deep-lying playmaker than a holding midfielder, Cleverley himself also isn’t a holding midfielder, more of a box-to-box than an enforcer.
In the game against Liverpool today, Liverpool’s Coutinho drove right through the United midfield straight into the danger zone unopposed. With no defensive midfielder in the team, it won’t be surprising to see teams split the midfield open this season.
Then there’s the inability to create chances. There was an occasion in today’s game where United strung about 10-15 passes in their own third of the pitch, while 1-0 down with about 5-10 minutes to go. With no midfielder taking up the creative duty in the absence of United’s flair players, Manchester United don’t look threatening. That’s two games without scoring now. When you look at the great Barcelona side, the likes of Xavi/Fabregas/Iniesta can win a game with a match splitting pass, United in the absence of Rooney/Kagawa don’t have that kind of creative midfielder. Carrick and Cleverley have both created only 2 chances so far this season. Although United’s opening fixtures have been against tough opposition, I feel they should be doing better, especially in midfield.
A midfield signing tomorrow is a must for the Red Devils.