United coaches reportedly working with McTominay on anchoring midfield solo

Before the start of the season, a report emerged claiming Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was planning to shift to a 4-3-3 formation.

That has happened on a couple of occasions – against Wolves and Villarreal – but the 4-2-3-1 has remained the preferred system.

Perhaps that has been influenced by Scott McTominay’s injury.

He played in the opening game of the season against Leeds, before missing the draw at Southampton and undergoing groin surgery.

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He was hurried back for the clash with West Ham last month, but still looks short of full fitness.

At his best, McTominay has the athleticism to anchor United’s midfield solo.

And the Athletic report that United coaches Kieran McKenna and Michael Carrick are working on that with him.

The Scotland international is apparently working on his positional discipline and passing to really master the lone holding midfield role.

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Those are two areas where Carrick excelled during his time at United, doing a lot of work which often went unheralded.

If United had a holding player who could play that role on their own, it would free up Bruno Fernandes and Paul Pogba to influence games from central areas in a 4-3-3.

That said, McTominay has often looked at his best when bombing forward himself.

But there is a clear need at United for a dependable, athletic, solid holding player and McTominay needs to make that role his own this season before United dip into the transfer market next summer to get one.

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Sam Preston is an NCTJ gold standard news and sports journalist who studied with the Press Association. He also has a 2:1 law with French law degree from the University of Birmingham, which included a year studying at Bordeaux Montaigne University. He is an FA Level 1 football coach who appeared on the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire show in 2018 and has also written digital football content and match-day programme pieces for Colchester United, Mansfield Town and Stockport County.