An interesting analysis by thedevilsdna.com has revealed that the double midfield pivot of Scott McTominay and Fred represents correct team selection by Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
The analysis starts by claiming that ‘United definitely have issues under Ole which are clearly linked to a lack of structures and processes, which gives rise to a lot of variation and extremities – and within this variation Fred and Scott are Ole’s go-to midfield men thanks to their ability to cope.
‘Players aren’t being helped by the system/tactic. If they perform/cope, it’s not really because of the system, but despite it. United are not laying out clear patterns and processes to make things easier for the players during the game.’
The author then claims that despite the wealth of attacking talent at United, without a system in place the team relies on individual brilliance and to back that up, ‘players who have the best ability to cope are the natural picks.’
Thus, as two players with high stats for defensive actions, pitch covering and intensity, McTominay and Fred are better suited than the likes of Paul Pogba, Donny van de Beek or even Nemanja Matic in the defensive midfield area.
However, the analysis continues to point out that this solution can work for a mid-table side but not for one that has ambitions to win championships.
‘No matter how good Fred and Scott are at ball-winning, a system that forces them into so many defensive actions is probably not a title-winning one anyway.
‘In short, McFred are the best at what they do and deserve to start for that reason, but for United to win titles, no midfielder should probably be doing what they do in the first place.
‘It’s not a complaint against them, it’s a complaint against the tactic under Ole.
‘If the root issues aren’t tackled, no player can perform to his best.’
The article concludes that:
‘They are the best fit for the system United currently play with. But the larger question is whether this is the path for the future – whether repeating this process or even slightly improving on it can get United to really control transitions, dominate midfield, create efficiently, win consistently and lift the trophies the Old Trafford faithfuls have been dreaming of.’
Until that bigger picture is addressed, it would seem that United fans are destined to continue watching ‘McFred‘ start the majority of games, no matter how unpopular the decision might be.