Solskjaer is copying Ferguson's Manchester United midfield plan but it isn't working

Sir Alex Ferguson is the greatest Manchester United manager of all time. But some of his team selections were still questionable.

Most notably, plenty of United’s midfielders down the years have prompted debate. The likes of Tom Cleverley, Anderson and (on occasions) Darron Gibson frustrated fans with their performances. Yet they all played a role in the Red Devils’ triumphs.

John O’Shea, Phil Neville and (bizarrely) Rafael were all played in the centre of the park with various levels of success. While the less said about Eric Djemba-Djemba and Kleberson, the better.

Even Darren Fletcher, who was integral for United down the years, was slammed by critics who did not see his influence.

Of course there were exceptions – with Bryan Robson, Paul Ince, Roy Keane, Nicky Butt and Paul Scholes all excelling – but United also have a history of weaker midfielders. And now it seems Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is ignoring that area in order to strengthen elsewhere.

Photo by Tom Purslow/Manchester United via Getty Images

This summer’s transfer window was outstanding. But a holding midfielder was high on every fan’s wish-list.

Instead, United are relying on Fred, Nemanja Matic and Scott McTominay, and the weaknesses are already clear to see.

The young scot is likely to be a United player for years to come. But his midfield partners are not what Solskjaer needs.

Options are not good enough

Matic is a few years past his peak while Fred looks out of his depth far too often.

Under Ferguson, these issues may have been easy to ignore. The United legend had a way to turn his weaker teams into more than the sum of their parts. But the same cannot be said for Solskjaer.

United are faltering when they should be flying.

With a forward line the envy of clubs across the globe, and the best first-choice back-four we’ve seen in years, United should be firing on all cylinders. Instead, issues in the centre of the park continue to influence results.

Solskjaer will surely sign a new holding midfielder next summer. The question is, will that be too late?

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Vincent is the Senior Managing Editor of Freshered. He was previously Head of Sixth Form at a secondary school in Kent, where he worked with hundreds of 16 to 19-year-olds over eight years.