I believe it would be wrong to accuse United of lacking depth in the midfield, as I am sure Chelsea and others would be delighted to have the options of players like Fletcher, Anderson and to a lesser extent Carrick in their squads to give them a little more variety and options. But the issue is the quality.
All too often this season the team has simply been overrun in midfield and bar twenty minutes it was the same again on Sunday. Ignoring the fact that Fletcher didn’t start a game where you would expect him to at least add some energy and bite, it has become all too common a theme.
Whilst many have chosen to lay the blame on Gibson when we have performed badly this season, and I wouldn’t necessarily disagree with them (seeing as he is limited across his game), it should be noted it isn’t his fault he is getting picked. It is also not as if the names mentioned above have become rubbish overnight, they are still quality footballers but they require a little stardust next to them (something Scholes can’t do with the regularity of old).
We now need to bring in at least one quality midfielder, preferably box to box and all action. I know people called for Ozil in the summer and others will talk and talk about how we missed VDV, but as I have argued before I don’t believe they are the type of player we need. Too attack minded and would require us to change formation, unless they fancied slotting in on the left or were only used in a five man midfield away from home. But that is the past, they are gone.
There was one thing that has been overlooked is analysis of why there wasn’t any spending in the summer. I for one think it may have had a fair bit to do with Hargreaves and Anderson. Both men were coming back from long term injuries and I would guess that SAF did not want to demoralise either player with the purchase of an all action midfielder. Little was he to know that Hargreaves would relapse and Ando would struggle again with injuries and fitness issues. When considered in that light it makes sense, what didn’t was allowing Cleverly out on loan but that is another discussion.
Where it truly gets frustrating is in January when surely we could have picked up a midfielder to add bite and drive to the midfield, even if it was a stop gap loan. After the last week it becomes clear how needed this is. I think where January becomes complicated is with the performances of Pogba, Tuncliffe and Morrison in the reserves this year. All highly thought of, all have been playing well, and all 17/18, and banging on the door to play. But we know they won’t feature (much this season) however we can’t let them down by not giving them a chance, would new signings jeopardise this?
The press now have us down to buy Rodwell, Henderson, Ashley Young, and Modric. I can’t see that happening, none of them really bring what we need to the team. Surely a De Rossi (huge gamble) or a Defour (another gamble) are more suited?
This pic from @BeardedGenius sums it up for me:
All I do know is the last time I felt like this was in 2005/06 season when we were crying out for a new midfielder, except back then Chelsea were rather good and Arsenal had a little bottle. This time we might still just sneak home with a winner’s medal.
That summer we bought Michael Carrick and despite some initial doubts by most fans we all know what the next few seasons brought, here’s hoping.