Paul Scholes and Rio Ferdinand agree that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s overly cautious line-ups are hindering Manchester United’s creativity.
United finally arrested their woeful home form with an unconvincing 1-0 victory over West Brom at Old Trafford on Saturday evening.
Bruno Fernandes’ retaken penalty was enough to seal three points for the underwhelming Reds, who leapfrog Manchester City in the league after their 2-0 defeat to Tottenham.
Despite West Brom ‘keeper and ex-Red Sam Johnstone putting in a man-of-the-match display with some exceptional saves, Solskjaer’s side were still lacking in attacking intensity and invention.
Fernandes, United’s creative fulcrum, unsurprisingly looked the most likely to break the resilient Baggies down but he was lacking in creative support.
And United greats Rio Ferdinand and Paul Scholes believe Solskjaer’s system of using two defensive midfielders in unnecessary against opposition they should be expected to beat.
“I think at home, where you can have a lot of the ball, I don’t think the quality is quite there for the both of them,” Scholes told BT Sport, as quoted by the Metro, on Saturday’s double pivot of Fred and Nemanja Matic.
“Whether it’s Fred and Matic or Fred and Scott McTominay, they’re both good at sitting and controlling games of football, protecting the two centre-halves, which is really why they’re playing.
“‘The problem is we’ve got defenders who, one-on-one, aren’t very good at defending.
“So we need those two sitting players to protect the back four.
“There’s no reason why, at Old Trafford against West Brom, one holding midfielder shouldn’t be enough.”
Ferdinand reiterated Scholes’ claim, suggesting that a weakness in defence is causing Solskjaer to select two holding midfielders.
“That’s the problem when you play the two sitters there, if one or two of them can’t pass then it makes it a bigger problem,” he added.
“If you’ve not got a threat with a 30 or 40-yard pass from deep, teams don’t have to come out.
“When you played against our team with Scholesy, the opposition midfielders had to come out to get Scholesy as he’d hurt them from that distance – then we’d be able to play the forwards in behind.
“The main problem is that the two centre-half players need to be protected, that’s why he’s playing two central midfielders that are holding.”
Solskjaer’s reluctance to start a more attacking line-up at home to struggling West Brom side is perhaps a reflection of the confidence in his current central defensive pairing of Harry Maguire and Victor Lindelof.
Perhaps the addition of an elite defender will allow Solskjaer the freedom to rely on one holding player with more trust in his back four.