Manchester United Football Club have an absolute gem of a footballer in Bruno Fernandes. That much is obvious. However, what midfield partners have been the best for our Portuguese Magnifico?
In the early-goings of Fernandes’ time in Manchester, it looked like he was bonding brilliantly with Paul Pogba. The partnership was cutting through defences almost at will, with Nemanja Matic sat in the back mopping up the dirty work.
Over time, though, things have changed. Pogba feels like he’s developing old habits again. More recently, the Frenchman has found himself completely out of the team, sitting on the bench and utilised as an impact player.
After all, having Fernandes and Pogba in the team together, two players who prefer to do the damage up the other end of the pitch as opposed to the defensive game, leaves your back line rather exposed…
That’s not to say Fernandes doesn’t track back. In fact, he does, far more than everyone would like as it often leaves him out of position. Pogba, on the other hand, is far less effective in that deeper position. His tackling ability is often non-existent, too…
Anyway, Sky Sports News’ Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher had their say on the subject last night during Monday Night Football. It’s fair to say both made excellent points during the fantastic debate. However, what was interesting was the stats behind it all.
The Premier League stats, per 90 minutes, show that the midfield combination which is proving best for Fernandes doesn’t actually include Pogba. Or Matic either, for that matter…
In fact, our Portuguese Magnifico thrives far better with Fred and Scott McTominay in-behind him. This could well explain why Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has tended to utilise these players together, as opposed to throwing Donny van de Beek right into the mix.
Check out the graphic, via Sky Sports here:
This is now a United side with Bruno Fernandes as their main man. With that in mind, it does make sense to play to his strengths.
It’s not like these stats are particularly close, either. Fernandes has double the amount of shots, completes almost double the number of dribbles and creates double the number of chances when used alongside Fred and McTominay. He also plays five more passes into the opposing box per game when utilised in this trio.
Don’t get me wrong, I love Pogba, though recently, he’s gone completely off the boil, while continuing to flirt with Real Madrid. Why should he continue to be rewarded with regular starts if he’s not showing his true talents?
Personally, I still think Van de Beek has a role to play. I see him as a direct upgrade on Fred, who can blow hot and cold. In the end, though, the proof is in the pudding.
United have to stick with this front three, which has performed brilliantly in some massive games I may add, until they prove otherwise to us…