Midfield remains a big problem for Manchester United this season. But ideas for improvement have not run dry just yet.
We saw a little glimpse of the future last Thursday night.
Academy graduates Scott McTominay, Dylan Levitt and James Garner could develop into a successful trio for the first team.
McTominay has shown what is possible. He has shown the talent, work rate, and attitude to become a United success story. He has been badly missed in the last two matches.
Garner and Levitt are cut from the same cloth. Their talent was evident in their first start together against Astana last week.
Add McTominay in alongside them and United could have a three man midfield with a bit of everything. He is an example both players can look up to, learn from, and end up starring alongside.
Andreas Pereira’s midfield chances are running out. He’s an extremely limited player who can’t do some of the basics.
Levitt and Garner make the game look effortless by comparison.
There is a growing case for United to promote one of, if not both of Levitt and Garner as soon as possible.
McTominay has shown great strides this season in developing his attacking game. Putting Garner and Levitt alongside him would give him greater license to get forward.
By the same token, Garner has become a prolific goalscorer at under-23 level this season. He could be the one given freedom to attack with Levitt and McTominay behind him.
This midfield trio would give United some versatility, and it is an experiment which needs to be tried out.
Games against Tottenham and City are not likely for United to make such a bold statement.
Besides, Fred deserves to keep his place and Paul Pogba’s impending return pushes Levitt and Garner back down the pecking order.
Garner, McTominay and Levitt could be United’s midfield of the future.
The midfield of the present that United need is Fred, McTominay and Pogba.
United have not been able to pick that yet this season, with Fred not considered for selection in August, before Pogba suffered his injury.
United’s form this season has been terrible and a lack of depth in midfield has been exposed.
But it is also fair to offer some mitigation, that injuries have prevented United from fielding their best trio.
This would be with McTominay and Fred in the middle, with Paul Pogba furthest forward in an attacking role.
If United had been able to line up like this all season, we would not be sitting down in ninth place.
Pogba’s imminent return offers some hope that United can start climbing up the table over the next couple of months.
Yet we know sooner or later, the Frenchman will get his wish to leave.
When that happens, new signings will be required. They are already.
But McTominay, Levitt and Garner is a trio worth experimenting with to see if they themselves can be the long term answer at Old Trafford.
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