Red Thoughts: Who should replace Marouane Fellaini against Man City?

by Red Debate

This week the Red Thoughts fan group tackles the issue of replacing the injured Fellaini in midfield.  Should it be Carrick? Schneiderlin? Herrera? Blind? Fosu-Mensah?

Think about it as a written podcast, a fans’ forum, a place to debate and discuss. Feel free to join in the discussion in the comments below.

DAN: I’d play Carrick, but it depends on how Jose wants to set up.

RICK: I agree, his experience and defensive positioning will be very good for us. If we were to play Herrera and Pogba I would just worry about us defensively.

REX: For me it would be Herrera. But I could see Blind being pushed up there, with Smalling back into the lineup at CB – that will keep the momentum going. Blind is fantastic at reading the game and has proven he can hold his own. I’d pick him over Carrick. Carrick is OK in games where the midfield is content to sit back, but against City it would be suicidal.

DAN: I’d pick Carrick for his experience, but he and Blind are so similar.
Daley Blind-min
BETS: I don’t think it’s a good time to mess with the back line. Carrick is useless against big teams, and though I love Herrera, we need a tackler. So it’s Schneiderlin for me.

HEMOR: With Pep’s usual tiki taka style, what we need to do is defend well and hit them on the counter. We’ll need a strong and tall CDM for that, so I think it has to be Schneidy. He’s also fast (at least faster than the rest) so that will be a bonus. I know none of our CDMs can read and control the game better than Carrick, but he isn’t strong and neither is Blind, so that might affect us.

BETS: if we’re going for strong and tall, the other option would be Fosu Mensah, but it would be a big gamble. By the way, Fosu Mensah is 6ft 3 and Schneidy is 6ft 1.

HEMOR: He’s way too inexperienced to play his first match of the season against City.

FAB: Judging by City’s game against West Ham, hard work will be needed by our CM pair. Mourinho needs to find Pogba a partner that will give him freedom to go forward. We all watched the Euro final and Pogba playing in a deep role is just not his thing, that’s why someone that could do a defensive job will be needed. As much I’d love to see Herrera play, I don’t think that he is the right one to play alongside Pogba. You all have seen his tackles and interceptions, he gets booked so easily. Since City’s new style is quick and also dangerous, despite his experience, Carrick is slow and that wouldn’t help us, even though our CB pairing is doing well. Schneiderlin could be the right option, as before joining us he had the best stats in the league. Our winning ratio has also been great when he has played. In regard to Timbo, we all love him and I can’t wait for the day that Timothy Fosu-Mensah and Pogba will play together, but starting him in the midfield when you’re playing City is way too dangerous. We have a good chance here to leave City behind us in the league, and using a youngster in this game wouldn’t be the best move to make.
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BETS: Assuming Pogba always starts, if it’s a hard game where we need steel, Mou will probably choose Fellaini or Schneiderlin. If it’s a game where we need vision and creativity, he’ll choose Herrera. Somewhere in between, maybe Blind. And if it’s a maybe easier game, he may blood Fosu Mensah. So I don’t see when Carrick will be the best option? In fact, can somebody please explain to me what he’s good for? He hardly moves at all nowadays, he can’t tackle and he just plays simple passes. I don’t see him shouting and motivating team mates so what is his function exactly?

RICK: Bets, like so many other United fans, you always miss what Carrick does in CM. He just does his job and goes unnoticed. Fergie used to say it a lot. He can tackle, he doesn’t get shoved off the ball … when have you seen someone breeze past Carrick? Never. I really don’t understand how as a United fan, you downplay Carrick’s ability and what he does so easily. You don’t need that much pace either when your positioning to intercept is good. I agree Schneiderlin would be a good choice, but don’t rule out Carrick so easily.

BETS: I’m looking at last season’s stats. Here are some comparisons (bearing in mind that Herrera was playing a more advanced role):

Tackles per game: Carrick 1.5 Schneidy 2.4 Herrera 2.1

Interceptions per game: Carrick 1.6 Schneidy 2.5 Herrera 0.9

Fouls per game: Carrick 0.4 Schneidy 2.7 Herrera 1.0

Times dispossessed per game: Carrick 0.6 Schneidy 0.4 Herrera 1.2

Dribbled past per game: Carrick 0.7 Schneidy 0.8 Herrera 1.3

Key passes per game: Carrick 0.4 Schneidy 0.3 Herrera 0.8

Shots per game: Carrick 0.3 Schneidy 0.4 Herrera 0.9

The other stats (eg blocks, clearances, etc) are all fairly similar to one another). So Carrick comes out best in terms of fouls per game, but he doesn’t foul because he doesn’t bother to tackle! Even Herrera, who was mostly playing as a number 10, put in a lot more tackles. So how is Carrick breaking up play if he’s not tackling and has very few interceptions per game? And you say he doesn’t get shaken off the ball, but the stats say he’s dispossessed 50% more often than Schneidy. You ask “how often have you seen someone breeze past Carrick?” – well the stats say 0.7 times a game, so I will grant you, that’s a good stat, but Schneidy is almost as good at 0.8.
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CARL: Bets, that’s always been my problem with Carrick and why I’d be surprised if Jose goes with him, because Carrick is a possession-hold type of player. He was perfect for an LVG side, as nobody can maintain possession of the ball and pick a positive pass quite as well as Carrick. But given we’re now a Jose side, and he doesn’t worry about dominating possession as much, and as we are going up against a side managed by a man that does, we need someone who can offer us more defensive security and make life more difficult for City trying to pass through us. Therefore it has to be Schneiderlin. Schneiderlin constantly takes shit off half our fanbase for being useless and yet even last season, when his stats had slumped slightly on his previous couple of seasons, they were still up on Carrick’s in nearly every department, as Bets’ stats above show – and even the ones where Carrick was up on him, it was only by a miniscule margin. I also agree, we need a CDM who can give us the best defensive security to allow Pogba to move forward, and again that’s Schneiderlin. Why would we opt for Carrick’s old legs to put in some decent forward passes but who brings little of anything else, including movement, when we have Pogba in there to drive us forward? That’s sort of the whole reason we bought Pogba, no? Choosing Schneiderlin makes way more sense if you ask me.

RICK: Bets, sometimes stats don’t show you the whole picture. I do however agree that Schneiderlin is the best option. I see Carrick’s influence dwindling with age. Last season was Carrick’s worst season I’d say. However, if you look at one simple stat – United’s win percentage when he plays, compared to when he doesn’t – it is astonishing. So even though the other stats might not state it, United’s ability to win games when he plays compared to when he doesn’t tells you a big thing.

CARL: Man United won 52% of their PL games last season with Schneiderlin in the team compared to 29% without.

HEMOR: Bets, Carrick doesn’t tackle a lot because he has a great positional sense and can read the game perfectly. He knows where he needs to be and when. He doesn’t shout because he’s a calm guy and his calmness gives the defenders behind him more confidence. He also has very good passing ability and he can control the pace of the game better than anyone in our midfield. While the stats show Carrick isn’t much better than the rest, in reality he is, because stats don’t always show the full story. Also don’t forget, Carrick is almost 35 years old while the other two are 26.

CARL: Hemor, I don’t think anyone is forgetting Carrick is 35, in fact we’re taking it into consideration as a reason he shouldn’t start. Carrick is a better distributor, sure, but with Pogba now there to bring the ball forward what is the point of Carrick starting? Carrick being a calming influence on our defence is very debatable also. I don’t think Blind needs Carrick there in front of him to settle his game, how Blind has started this season without Carrick there would suggest that’s not true at all. Then there’s Bailly, who has never had the experience of having Carrick in front of him and it’s certainly doing him no harm either. A 35 year old Carrick against City, who love to pack the midfield, sounds like a disaster waiting to happen to me, but we’ll see what Jose does. I’d be very surprised if he thought Carrick was the best option though. Very surprised.

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