Published On: Sun, Sep 19th, 2021

Manchester United are still hampered by £52m problem despite dramatic West Ham win | Football | Sport

Well that was typical Manchester United, the Manchester United of old. Not playing particularly well but still finding a way to dig out three points in the face of adversity. Yet if we cast aside an unforgettable finish to proceedings and the overriding feeling of relief after United secure all three points, there is still one clear hindrance limiting Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side

The United boss still has his fair share of minor problems to iron out before they truly reach their full potential as a side but the inclusion of Fred remains a hugely restricting factor in their quest for major honours.

Fred’s skillset remains incredibly limited and in games like today, it shows.

He remains tidy on the ball, albeit he’s rarely easy on the eye but you’ll never see Fred split the defence in two with a long raking pass.

Instead, he’s very much a side-to-side, progressive distributor of the ball and while every team needs a player who keeps things simple, Fred does not offer anything different to his partner McTominay.

The Scot loves to assert his presence and energy on proceedings, while Fred thrives in combat and attempting to rat out the opposition as they look to break on the counter-attack.

Yet he is far from a master of his craft. He is no Fabinho, N’Golo Kante or Wilfred Ndidi while even a player of Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg’s mould represents a better option than Fred.

Declan Rice offered United another timely reminder today that they can do far better than Fred, a player Solskjaer continues to persist with.

It’s clear the Norwegian likes to operate with two box-to-box midfielders as opposed to one holding player but that is often where there the game is won and lost.

Despite what was described as an incredible summer, United are still lacking balance and order in the middle of the park.

He may have improved but Fred’s unpredictability and lack of quality on the ball is often why United’s games look chaotic at times, particularly on the road. Southampton was another perfect example of that.

United are still crying out for that one midfield general, who can stamp their authority on the game and drive the team forward.

It’s the player that we all thought Paul Pogba would be on his return to Old Trafford but for one reason or another, it just hasn’t been that way.

When you strip down United to their very core, they have everything you need within a team to win the title, bar that elite central midfield player.

That is why it remains baffling that Solskjaer did not push hard for another midfielder this summer.

It could even be argued that the acquisition of one would have served a bigger purpose than the addition of Jadon Sancho, who is yet to show his best in United colours.

Solskjaer is now stacked with a number of high-quality options in attack but in midfield, United are still way behind the rest of their title rivals.

Fred would not start for any of the so-called ‘Big Six’ and there are question marks as to whether he would start for many other Premier League clubs either.

He remains a £52million problem for United and until he is upgraded, the same old problems will continue to surface for Solskjaer.

They were unable to gain any kind of advantage in midfield today and that has also been the case in matches against Southampton and Wolves this season.

Sadly, with all due respect to Fred, he remains the common dominator and the simple fact of the matter is, he is not good enough for Manchester United.

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