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Manchester United need to strengthen the midfield, n​o​t the defence, says Nemanja Vidic

Former Manchester United captain, Nemanja Vidic has spoken about the problems his former club currently have ahead of what will be an important summer for the Old Trafford club. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer replaced Jose Mourinho early in December, which was something that was needed at the club as things had become stagnant. Since Solskjaer has led the club, further problems are now in view.

United undoubtedly need strengthening in the summer. Since Sir Alex Ferguson retired, the club has spent upwards of £700 million, the majority of that being wasted. Those times need to end and United need to find themselves looking to solve problems with more logic rather than the optimist approach in hoping that big money signings solved the problems the club had faced. Most did not solve anything.

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Under Mourinho’s tenure, last summer he wanted to sign a competent central defender, with Toby Alderweireld linked to the club, along with Harry Maguire and Jerome Boateng. United has many defenders al the club, which is Vidic’s point but lack quality in the midfield. Vidic, speaking to Stadium Astro which was reported by the Manchester Evening News, said:

“Of course, I would like to see him there. But I think the club has to have a priority.

“What I see is, if you want to be in the Champions League next season and challenge for the Premier League, you have to strengthen the midfield.

“You need that depth in the midfield area. In defence, they already have five players, so they can rotate, and it seems like they’re doing well.”

United was hit quite hard with the injuries sustained in midfield last month which left Nemanja Matic, Ander Herrera, Juan Mata, and Jesse Lingard on the sidelines. This allowed the likes of Fred, Andreas Pereira, Scott McTominay, James Garner, Tahith Chong and Angel Gomes with opportunities, which was good to see. Pereira, Fred and McTominay all stood firm though but many would like to see better depth in the squad.

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The three first-choice central midfielders this season has been Paul Pogba, Matic and Herrera, then in an attacking sense, Jesse Lingard on the right and Anthony Martial on the left, with Marcus Rashford and Alexis Sanchez stepping in from time to time. I think what Vidic is saying is that when Pogba and Herrera, even Matic to a point, are not playing, there does not seem to be much quality right now.

However, that is not a slight on the likes of Pereira, Fred, and McTominay. If you look back to the past, you will see that Sir Alex Ferguson had many options in all positions, which allowed him to rotate his team often, keeping players fresh. Right now, that rotation is not happening as the quality is not quite there, but it could be. United are not creating or scoring many goals. In the last two matches, they have scored once.

If the midfield was strengthened and the team were able to play to those strengths, chance and goal creation would increase and the forwards would be able to find the much-needed goals the clubs needs to reach its goals. Right now though, Solskjaer can only rejig his squad for each match, not actually make any changes to the squad. If he is tasked with the permanent position of manager at United, perhaps he can rebuild it.

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I’m not fully confident that United’s defence is as good as Vidic has made out. Eric Bailly has been rash, which has left him playing a bit part role, under both Mourinho and Solskjaer and it seems unlikely to change anytime soon. Chris Smalling has played well, but also poorly. Victor Lindelof has risen to the challenge but needs a solid partner. Phil Jones has been on the sidelines again as has Marcos Rojo.

It would be fair to say that both the defence and the midfield needed to be strengthened, as does the attack. United need a competent right-winger so the team can play with width. Also, a striker that could come off the bench and bag a goal or two, someone like Solskjaer. It seems that there are many problems to solve which will depend on the board, who like many governments, do not spend in the right way to achieve success.

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