Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has hit back at supporters criticising his persistent selection of midfield duo Scott McTominay and Fred, describing the pairing as 'instrumental' to his side.
Supporters have grown frustrated with the Norwegian's reliance on two holding midfielders, with many questioning the value of Fred in the starting lineup on a regular basis. Those doubts grew in numbers last weekend, after the Red Devils slumped to a shock 1-0 home defeat to Aston Villa.
But Solskjaer was in defiant mood ahead of Man Utd's Champions League clash with Villarreal on Wednesday, insisting that McTominay and Fred work well together in midfield, while suggesting that 'fans will always have opinions'.
"First of all the stats for them two together we have had many good results,” Solskjaer began. "The way we broke up play against Villa, I think they are very instrumental together.
“The energy and desire. I really like to have the two of them. I can trust them to give us what they've got. Fans will always have opinions, it is easy to say who should be playing."
Man Utd supporters were hoping that Solskjaer would take the handbrake off his side - particularly in home matches - following the arrival of defensive maestro Raphael Varane, and the attacking additions of Cristiano Ronaldo and Jadon Sancho.
But the Red Devils boss has persisted with the cautious midfield approach, despite supporters believing that at least Fred is not up to standard to carry the Premier League giants back to their former glories.
The duo started the game against Villa, when Man Utd turned in a typically unconvincing display against their visitors. An 88th minute header from Kortney Hause gave Villa the lead, but Solskjaer's men were gifted the chance to snatch an injury-time equaliser, when the centre-back handled in his own area.
Bruno Fernandes stepped up to take the spot-kick, but blazed his effort high over the crossbar, sinking Man Utd to their first league defeat of the campaign. They play Villarreal at Old Trafford in the Champions League on Wednesday night.