Donny van de Beek’s move to Manchester United has not been a success so far.
That’s through no fault of his own. He has scored one goal, provided one assist, and played a key role in United’s dramatic late winner against Brighton.
In the limited chances he has had at United, Van de Beek has done really well, and this just fuels the frustration around him.
Van de Beek has been on the bench for all five of United’s Premier League matches, and against Chelsea at the weekend he was an unused substitute.
It was a missed opportunity because the 0-0 draw was a game which was crying out for an impact player willing to take a gamble, run into the box and create a problem for the opposition.
While the Dutchman was not called upon at Old Trafford, manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer made one tactical call against Chelsea which gives Van de Beek hope.
For the first time in the Premier League this season, United switched to use a diamond formation.
This came in the second half as United chased a goal and brought on Paul Pogba to bolster the midfield.
This made up a United quartet of McTominay, Fred, Pogba, and Fernandes.
It is this shift to a midfield four which presents Van de Beek’s best chance of regular game time.
United’s insistence on a three does not currently suit him at present because of the alternatives in the squad.
Bruno Fernandes is locked into the attacking role and Van de Beek is reliant on an injury or a rest for the Portuguese maestro.
For the two spots behind Fernandes, Solskjaer just trusts United’s other options more, considering the defensive work requires. Van de Beek has not had an opportunity to state his case.
Playing a midfield four suits Van de Beek better because he can showcase both parts of his game and has sufficient support around him.
From a simple numbers perspective, fitting six players into four enhances his chances than fitting them into three positions.
United could rotate the side this week and bring Van de Beek back into the team against RB Leipzig.
He will be fired up to prove a point and succeed at Manchester United. He is signed as a long-term player, rather than a short-term fix.
That’s why looking beyond this upcoming week, Solskjaer’s decision to use a diamond in midfield offers some encouragement to Van de Beek.
United need to find a way to fit Van de Beek and Bruno Fernandes into the same side, and Solskjaer so far has not figured it out.
Changing formation could be the first step towards doing so, and Van de Beek should hold out hope that he will get a run in the side.
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