Manchester United have dominated most of their pre-season games so far, and conceded just one goal in the five matches played.
This is not something to boast about though, nor is it a sign our defence has suddenly become the greatest thing since sliced pan. It’s largely as a result of playing all sorts of teams – lacking in fitness and trying to give everyone game time, but that’s not to say this pre-season hasn’t given fans any reason to be optimistic because it has.
One of the biggest issues I had watching United towards the end of last season was how we lacked organisation and leadership. Nobody to pull others side, give orders or even take a hit for the team.
However, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer should bite the bullet when the competitive season kicks-off. It comes down to who will be his preferred two in the deep double pivot?
Nemanja Matic, Scott McTominay, Fred, and Andreas Pereira will be the three battling it out in there – while Paul Pogba obviously takes one of the two pivot roles.
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Some might argue Pogba should be further forward in an advanced position, but if the pre-season tour has showed us anything about Solskjaer’s tactics for the coming season, it’s that he wants the Frenchman on the right side to operate closely with Aaron Wan-Bissaka flying up the wing.
For me, McTominay should be the one to partner Pogba in the pivot, he is looking like our most improved player from the pre-season tour and Matic looked like a player past his best last season, with the same level of form carried into the friendlies this summer.
McTominay has tons of defensive ability, energy, way more mobility than Matic, and it looks like he’s been building on an understanding with Pogba through the middle.
Does he have the discipline to play that role week in week out, in a side that is trying to press high up the pitch with intensity? I don’t know – but I certainly don’t think Matic has the legs for that anymore.
Then there’s Fred who cost the club a fortune last year before going on to offer very little. I’m not convinced he will turn things around this season before he makes the same mistakes on the pitch time and time again. He constantly runs into traffic and loses the balls, though I’ve no doubt Solskjaer will give him opportunities. Possibly kept for the Europa League.
Andreas Pereira has been talked up by Solskjaer this summer but his performances on the pitch don’t warrant suggestions that he could be the answer to our midfield problems. This may sound harsh, but he hasn’t even played 5 good games for United yet and was there all last season.
Matic is obviously the experienced one who knows what it takes to win the Premier League, but there’s a growing fear his best days are behind him. At one stage, he was without question one of the best midfielders in England, but United have a bubbling prospect in McTominay and he deserves his crack at the whip.
I feel in this system Solskjaer is trying to implement – 4-2-3-1 – you can’t afford to have a double pivot consisting of a player who is too slow along with the mobility of a baby elephant.
Which is why I can see McTominay edging his way into the starting line-up this season, paired mostly with Pogba and hopefully Bruno Fernandes in an advanced position.