Former Manchester United midfielder Paul Scholes has urged current manager and former teammate Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to adopt a more aggressive mentality to help Cristiano Ronaldo in attack. Scholes has stated that an overdue change to the midfield will help United unleash their more exciting attacking players to make up for lost time in the Premier League title race this season.
United started the season in fine fettle with a 5-1 victory over Leeds United, then drawing 1-1 to Southampton before beating Wolverhampton Wanderers 1-0, all before the first International break of the season. After that, they beat Newcastle United 4-1 and beat West Ham United 2-1 before falling foul to a 1-0 defeat to Aston Villa and a 1-1 draw with Everton, all in the Premier League.
Solskjaer has continued, at least when possible, to play Scott McTominay and Fred as the defensive-minded pairing in the centre of the midfield, which leads many to frustration, primarily because of Fred. Scholes has stated that he has no doubts over McTominay’s quality but was concerned to the lack of balance in the midfield. This is something that we have all been thinking over the past few months.
Scholes feels that Solskjaer should look at what Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola would do, installing McTominay as the sole holding midfielder in the starting XI, who could obviously rotate with Nemanja Matic, and playing a more attacking lineup in matches. Scholes spoke about McTominay and his ideas for United on the Webby and O’Neill YouTube channel, saying:
“I think he’s got everything, he’s athletic, he can get around the pitch, he’s got great ability as well. He’s capable of sitting in that position.”
Scholes believes that this change wold benefit the attacking players, such as Ronaldo, who will be leading United’s attack, Bruno Fernandes, who largely plays in the central attacking midfield role, Jadon Sancho, who should be playing on the right-wing and Marcus Rashford, who will be back on the left-wing when he returns from injury. The likes of Mason Greenwood, Edinson Cavani and Anthony Martial will benefit also. Scholes continued by saying:
“That’s the difference between United and I think Liverpool and City – they are much more aggressive, more attack-minded,” added the 46-year-old.
“You think of City going away to Chelsea, they play one holding midfield player and almost play six or seven forward players – that’s the difference in mentality.
“I think if Ole can get that right with that balance in the team… going forward I don’t think is a problem. Going forward we’ve got so many exciting players with Cristiano coming.”
It would see that Scholes has thought about this and has been suitably convinced that the team could work well with just one holding midfielder, based on their defensive performances so far this season. United have conceded six goals in seven matches which has mostly been strengthened by Raphael Varane’s arrival at the club this summer, strengthening the defence, which was much needed. Scholes concluded by saying:
“Defensively we look great, everything’s there. It just seems to be getting that one person in the middle of the pitch right, that balance of the team. But once he (Solskjaer) gets that, I think we’ll be alright.”
United will face Leicester City at the King Power Stadium on Saturday afternoon in the Premier League, which could see Solskjaer’s team strengthened with the return of Harry Maguire, who received a calf injury in the defeat to Aston Villa. That said, Varane came off in the Nations League final against Spain on Sunday, which France won 2-1, which could see him as a doubt for the clash with the team that bottled the Champions League in two consecutive seasons. Victor Lindelof, Eric Bailly or even Phil Jones could step in if either were not fit enough to play this weekend.
Written by John Walker