Date: 18th January 2011 at 11:00am
Written by:

“Our midfield lacks bite”, “There is little creativity and once Scholes retires it’ll only get worse”, “Why didn’t we sign Van der Vaart/ Sneijder/Ozil?”

I’m sure at one point over the last 6-12 months you will have heard at least one of these comments or a comment very similar. The problem with our midfield has been quite obvious for a while and though good form from Darren Fletcher and Scholes continuing to defy Father Time helped mask it at times, slowly these won’t be things we can fall back on.

Scholes will sadly retire one day, it may be at the end of this season or next but it will happen eventually and whilst Fletcher is a hugely talented player, him playing out of his skin all the time was extremely unlikely. I always thought the ‘Big Game’ tag Fletch has was quite unfair, yes it is obvious he played well in big games, but I feel he was good in the smaller games too, perhaps it was the fact that in big games it is more noticeable when a man stands up to be counted. Now we face a dilemma, Fletcher has hit a rough patch and he isn’t Big Game Fletch neither is he small game Fletch either and he is just one of the problems we are facing in midfield.

The game against Spurs was a real eye opener, we went 4-4-2 (some say 4-4-1-1 but forget that nonsense) and our weakness in the middle of the park was clear for all to see. The pairing of Darren Fletcher and Michael Carrick is yet to win everyone over and yesterday was a prime example of why. Rae M touched on the feeble display from the two yesterday and the fact that Luka Modric, a player more known for what he brings to a game creatively, was able to complete more tackles and interceptions than both. To put it simply Modric had their number both defensively and offensively.

Yesterday wasn’t the first time our midfield has come up second best, on New Year’s day against West Brom we were forced to abandon the 4-4-2 after the mighty West Brom proved too stern a test and whilst we ended up taking the points from that game the fact we were forced to do so, was a damning indictment of the personnel on the field.

Whilst we can expect some creativity and much breaking up of play from Carrick and Fletcher if used as central midfield pairing, can we really expect much in support of attacking play? Whilst their performance against Spurs was disciplined and aided our defensive showing, it did little to help in an attacking sense. As Anderson came on for Nani there was an injection of energy, his running with the ball with always be a threat but with questions over his final ball still yet to be answered he may only be the answer for now until he can show consistency in the final third of the pitch.

It has been oft stated (esp by our reader Jonathan) that a pairing of Carrick and Anderson is a fruitful one and that the two compliment each other so perhaps that is the solution but then what is to become of Fletcher? I still feel he is our best central midfielder bar Scholes but his recent lack of quality whilst on the ball is becoming a worry.

In Carrick, Fletcher and Anderson we have 3 men who each have key components to make a midfield tick but none of the 3 at the moment for me scream of being totally competent individually. We have been blessed in the central midfield department recently and the options of Keane, a younger Scholes and Butt meant we were spoilt for choice thus the problem we face now is magnified times 10.

The obvious option is to just go with a 4-3-3 but I would like to think that as a club as big as ours we have the players to go with either formation but that’s me with rose tinted specs on, our midfield has and will be a problem and the injection of fresh blood maybe what we need. Of course we have to take into account poor form, nobody plays at 100% all the time as well as the fact that Anderson has a long way to go until he is the complete article so perhaps it isn’t all doom and gloom plus when Scholes returns it will alleviate the problem but for how long?


12 responses to “Midfield mayhem: What exactly is wrong in the middle of the park?”

  1. Eric says:

    Sign L.Diarra, and start to use Anderson as a regular starter. A midfield with those 2, combined with Valencia/Nani/Park/Giggs would provide much needed spark and bite. Would be the pice that completes the puzzle

  2. Yashi says:

    I think we were simply very stretched by Spurs. Bale and Lennon were very effective for Spurs and Modric, being the world class that he is, was able to easily nullify Utd’s midfield with Palacios. Nani could barely help, so even Assou Ekoto was making forward runs. And I don’t think Giggs could do anything on the left hand side, he’s much better in the middle these days.

    I think Fletcher is having a dip in form this season. I think both him and Carrick have a future at the club. The thing is that Fergie never expects them to attack, apart from Fletcher maybe who is all over the pitch usually, in a very similar way to Ando, hence why I think Ando and Fletch cannot play together. Any other combination is fine. I think we have to understand that Carrick is our defensive midfielder and as a result, we can’t expect a lot of defence-splitting passes from him, although he does come up with a few. Fletcher and Ando are the guys to charge forward and also help out on the wings from time to time.

    But if we want to bring in a midfielder, it has to be someone who would improve us considerably, not simply someone to provide competition and sit on the bench. I think Modric ticks every boxes for me… I don’t want any young Serbian/Montenegrin player who everyone is raving about purely because his name finishes with an ‘ic’ and is pretty decent on FM. Diarra is pretty good too.

  3. bharath honnegowda says:

    lets have patience.. Anderson is showing some good form of late. i’m sure Anderson, Fletcher & Carrick can solve the puzzle.

  4. R.E.D says:

    Def agree we have 3 player who collectively make strong midfield but at the mo all 3 aren’t individually up to the job but importantly that is at the moment and this could change.

    One thing I have noticed and is a contributing factor to why Fletch doesn’t look the same is that he isn’t playing his destroyer role, rather he seems to imitating (and very badly at that) some sort of creative midfielder. He can do it, the number of assists he racks up shows this but not consistently thus when he is employed to do it rather than just do his normal marauding job and let the creativity come as a by product he doesn’t look as good.

    This is temporary as you said but we have some big games left this season and will need to be at our beat to capture this title.

  5. sihy says:

    i think fletch would be more effective at def mid than cent mid

  6. Don says:

    a Carrick-Fletcher midfield doesn’t work. We should really push for the Carrick-Ando combination, it has been our best combo, bar when Scholesy is in the mix, this season. The only problem, as already mentioned, where does that leave Fletcher. Maybe a 4-3-3 with Rooney on the left up-front since he is not scoring goals anyway, then we can have Carrick-Ando-Fletcher in midfield with Ando being the creative mind out of those three. The downside to this though would be the fact that Berba rarely plays well as a lone striker.

  7. jonathan says:

    It’s too bad Fletcher doesn’t have better ball control because he certainly brings a lot forward. I’d even credit him in that his long-range passing has improved quite a bit.

    I think because he likes to challenge players many feel he’d be a good DM, but I’m not too sure because that position requires the player to have the discipline to remain in a fairly specific area of the pitch – and that is not his style. Fergie could try playing Flech and Ando together (in a 4-4-2) and could prove me wrong by having it work out, but I don’t see it happening.

    A lot of this is hypothetical anyways. Fergie loves to rotate the midfield and use different formations, so I wouldn’t worry about Flecher wasting on the bench.

  8. nani4ever says:

    A keep on saying it but everyone is trying to act blind 4-4-2 is not a viable formation for us against the top opposition, barring scholes and anderson to a much lesser extent our midfield lack creative inspiration. Therefore our best formation is 4-5-1 or 4-4-3 with a lone striker in rooney and I know all u berbatov enthuses/slobbers/lovers are going to upset but if we look at last year this time when we were on a great run it was the result of the great wing play of tony and nani, also rooney’s form with the midfield just holding or keeping things in place, we currently either through a combination of a lack of form, inexperience and great player coming to the end of is career thus making 4-4-2 not viable against top opposition not even westbrom, sunderland and birmingham for that matter.

    • Dani Red Army says:

      yes i agree like sir alex always plays the 4-5-1 positon against strong teams and in the champions

  9. Dani Red Army says:

    I think we need to sign the brazilian superstar Ganso he is very pacy creative and if we pair him up with anderson we would have a good squad for the next season
    here is the ideal formation

    Rooney Berbatov

    Nani Ganso Anderson Valencia

    Evra Vidic (c) Rio Rafael


  10. mick says:

    As said by nani for ever, we should go dor a 4-4-3 system . this would enhance our attacking performance and help us score many goals, although we will be conceding 10 times more :/ and, if some1 gets injured, we will have to try the 1-1-9. will work awesomly