Manchester United’s friendly matches on Friday gave the impressive duo of Fred and Scott McTominay a chance to re-connect their midfield partnership, and they seized the opportunity.
The XI in the first friendly game saw Bruno Fernandes and Paul Pogba form a midfield trio along with Nemanja Matic. United lost that one 2-1, although it must be said they had United’s second choice defence behind them.
Fred and Scott McTominay, along with Andreas Pereira, won the second match 3-1, boosted by United’s first choice defence.
While the results mean next to nothing, they certainly will give Ole Gunnar Solskjaer food for thought heading into this Friday’s clash with Tottenham Hotspur.
Work in progress vs synchronised duo
The dream partnership of Bruno Fernandes and Paul Pogba is one which United fans have been waiting for a while to see. That does not mean it will work right away.
Scott McTominay and Fred on the other hand have proven they can win big games together for United, with this midfield duo starring in the win away at City last December, and the preceding home victory against Tottenham.
Does Solskjaer drop an untested partnership right in away at Spurs, no matter how high the upside?
The boss clearly wants to test them out, and Friday’s friendly will have helped. It was important for Pogba especially to get some match sharpness back, in his first appearance since his too-brief December return.
The fixture away at Spurs is an important one, and a difficult game. Should United gamble by putting Pogba and Fernandes in together? And would it actually put them under more pressure?
A mixed combination
United’s plentiful midfield options means a different midfield trio is likely to start away at Spurs, and at home to Sheffield United the following Tuesday.
The first task is to get the opening selection right, and Fred and Scott McTominay will feel they have effectively stated their case for that one, as reliable go-to options.
Pogba’s creativity may be needed more so to break down a resolute Sheffield United side, and that may be the game to put him in for.
It is probable that Nemanja Matic and Bruno Fernandes start against Spurs, leaving one spot up for grabs.
Both Fred and Scott McTominay are viable options to feature, instead of Pogba. They have proved to Solskjaer that he can rely on them all season long. Friday was just another reminder of that.
Fred has made 37 appearances all season for United, with McTominay making 27. Both are fully fit and refreshed too, after a three-month break.
While a diamond may be an interesting option, a midfield trio is more likely, and it could be Matic, McTominay and Fernandes as the safest option on Friday, with Pogba and Fred ready to feature from the bench.
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