reefeat to Leicester City in the FA Cup quarterfinals it might not be the disaster that many claim to be Manchester United, although the manner of the defeat made it clear that the club won’t be able to fight for top honors until they get a good midfielder.
We talk a lot about 2004 Arsenal team that went through an entire Premier League season unbeaten, there was of course the quality of Thierry Henry and Patrick Vieira, yet it was the presence of Gilberto silva that made all the difference.
Signed for a meager five million euros in the summer of 2002, Silva would become the perfect foil for Patrick Vieira, sitting just deeper than the Frenchman, sweeping away any danger before he can even reach the Gunners back line.
Manchester United don’t currently have those kinds of players, and if you look at their last two European Cup successes, they have it.
In 1999, it was Roy Keane and in 2008 it was Owen Hargreaves, and neither player has been properly substituted as the 2021/22 season approaches.
United have a plethora of midfielders who don’t quite fit the role
Paul pogba is not disciplined enough for the role, and this limits his creative talent, while Fred and Scott McTominay do not have the technical ability to receive the ball in difficult positions and move it over shorter distances.
Manchester United’s defense can be extremely porous, and it will continue to be so Harry Maguire and Victor Lindelof are chosen to play together.
Neither is lucky enough to have a good pace and is often under incredible pressure.
A holding midfielder would relieve such pressure on the couple perfectly, preventing much danger from hitting them.
Just imagine Yuri Tielemans‘Sunday’s goal, the way he went through a static United midfielder before placing a shot in the bottom corner of the net, do you really think a player in Gilberto Silva’s mold would have let him go that far without dispute?
Wilfred Ndidi is the model
Ironically, on the other side of the pitch there was perhaps the perfect candidate to take on such a role at Old Trafford … Wilfred Ndidi.
The Nigerian is so wonderfully gifted and is criminally undervalued by those outside Leicester City which is why no one has tested the Foxes’ resolve in the market at this point.
His defensive prowess is clear, he’s confident in challenges, but it’s his positional discipline that catches the eye.
The former Genk midfielder is rarely out of position, he locks the center of the field and at the same time is talented enough to keep the ball moving.
At Leicester he’s lucky in the sense that possession isn’t a priority, and he can shoot the ball forward at will, but he’s more than capable of being part of a team that wants to dominate in this way.
Credentials for the new recruiting setup will be tested this summer
Manchester City had Fernandinho, Liverpool had Fabinho, Real Madrid had Casemiro and Barcelona had Sergio Busquets, however, in recent years United believe they have learned better and dismissed the need for such a protective presence in the midfield.
Until that arrogance is lifted, United will continue to struggle in the face of offensive pressure and results like the 3-1 loss to Leicester City will continue, not to mention the defensive aberration in Turkey that ultimately cost the team in the Champions League.
It is impossible to dispute for the two important trophies, the Premier League and Champions League, without an elite midfielder, and while much of United’s summer will be spent chasing a player capable of playing on the right wing, the aforementioned area should be their priority.