A Midfield Diamond & Front Two Might Be the Answer for Man Utd Getting the Best Out of Their Main Stars

Jun 20, 2020, 3:00 PM GMT+1
Bruno Fernandes, Paul Pogba
Bruno Fernandes and Paul Pogba starred as Manchester United drew with Tottenham | Pool/Getty Images

Three months may have passed since their last competitive fixture, but it was the same old Manchester United at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Friday night - something needs to change.

The Red Devils may have extended their unbeaten run to a promising 12 games, but their 1-1 draw with José Mourinho's side laid bare all the away side's frailties.

Despite the brilliance of Bruno Fernandes in midfield, United were toothless in attack, while the rumblings over David De Gea's future will have only got louder after another high-profile error.

Wideman Dan James continued his struggles against a solid defence, while forward Anthony Martial was anonymous aside from forcing a fine save from Hugo Lloris.

With a packed end to the season in store, perhaps it is time that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer rethinks his attacking set up, in order to best suit the potential strength of a midfield of Paul Pogba and Fernandes.

While Pogba's 30-minute cameo is not enough to convince all of his doubters, it will have shown his importance to a United side that is often lacking in creativity in the final third.

After his arrival into the game, the away side were much improved, with the Frenchman driving past the Spurs defence to draw a penalty as well as delivering a delicious pass to Marcus Rashford late on which the forward failed to capitalise on.

Mason Greenwood, Daniel James
Dan James was ineffective before being replaced by Mason Greenwood in the second half | Pool/Getty Images

Pogba and Fernandes aside, the rest of the attack and midfield looked far from their best, as Solskjaer's continued rigid formation choice was once again undone.

While there have been positives this season, the forward line of Rashford, Martial and James has often been a source of frustration, with the latter two in particular blowing hot and cold.

Unlike, say, a Manchester City or Liverpool, there seems to be little fluidity among that front three, with Martial in particular often left isolated as the two wide men hug the touchlines.

Marcus Rashford
Manchester United failed to secure victory despite dominating the end to the game | Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Perhaps a starting berth for young starlet Mason Greenwood would alleviate this issues, but he himself is seemingly destined for a striking role rather than a place out wide.

With the club in dire need of reinforcement in wide areas - with Jadon Sancho most likely the number one choice - Solskjaer should turn his attention to building a dominant midfield with a front two of Martial and Rashford, before signings can be made this summer.

When the Norwegian first took the caretaker role, his preferred tactics seemed to be a striking partnership of the Frenchman and the Englishman, with Jesse Lingard just behind.

While Lingard might be destined for the exit door, placing Fernandes in that attacking midfield role could provide that creative spark that the side have been missing.

With Fernandes at the head of the diamond, the base should see the club's most dominant holding midfielder get a starting berth - Nemanja Matic.

The remaining two places in midfield should be taken up by Pogba and either Scott McTominay or the much improved Fred.

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While many would see the downside of a lack of out and out width, that diamond midfield would provide enough energy and ability to make up for that, while Luke Shaw and Aaron Wan-Bissaka can offer an attacking outlet from the back.

The presence of a front two rather than a lone striker should offer a chance for more involvement for Martial, who was starved of the ball for much of Friday night's fixture.

As for Rashford, his ability to pull wide at times would also offer the chance to stretch the pitch and allow space for Fernandes in an attacking midfield role through the middle.

While the mouthwatering partnership of Pogba and Fernandes still has a lot to prove, the two men are by far the club's most impressive players who Solskjaer's needs to build his team around - and quickly.