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Bundesliga clubs interested in Fosu-Mensah but Solskjaer will give him a chance

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will give Tim Fosu-Mensah the chance to earn a new long-term contract at Manchester United after it was revealed that Bundesliga clubs retain interested in the Netherlands defender. On Thursday evening in the 2-0 victory over Crystal Palace, the 22-year-old started for the first time since the 2016/17 season standing in for the injured Luke Shaw and Brandon Williams in the left-back position, which is not a favoured position of his.

Fosu-Mensah did well in an irregular position and was not disgraced as many might have though he would be. It would be a shame if he was not able to continue his career at United as the early prospects of the player were good. Solskjaer confirmed that Fosu-Mensah would be given the opportunity to earn a long-term contract with the club, just like teammate Nemanja Matic has this season. The Sun reported the United manager as saying:

“He’s worked hard and delighted for him. I know all about having injuries – knee injuries – and how great it must have felt for him to be out there.

“He lasted a full game and he played as we wanted him to; he defended really well. We knew it would be Townsend and Zaha to play against – tricky players to play against.

“I’ve seen Timothy in training and seen him before with his pace and physicality, and his attributes. We thought he deserved to play this game and he proved that, he showed it.”

This season, Fosu-Mensah had been limited to two appearances at U23 level for United, playing 148 minutes to gain match fitness after a return from injury, which has been his problem at the club. He will be happy with 90 minutes of first team action with a possibility that he could play more, perhaps not at left-back unless needed, but in a more favourable position; right-back, central defence or even as a defensive midfielder. These are the positions that the 22-year-old has played in so far.

After making to rise to United’s first team during Louis van Gaal’s reign at the club, Fosu-Mensah has endured four major injuries; two whilst on loan with Fulham, one of which continued into the current season with the player recovering from surgery. His knee injuries seem to be the dangerous ones, suffering a cruciate ligament injury which required surgery, something he is just getting the better of now, which is why he needs to be given a chance, not just written off by the club.

Fosu-Mensah has a year left on his current contract at United, which is the additional year from his last contract extension, signed in 2016. If the player can keep his fitness, there is no reason why he cannot earn a future at the club as players that offer much less than him seem to have won a career at the club, despite having more time on the injury list than in the starting XI recently. The 22-year-old has a good future ahead of him, hence the interest from Germany, despite no clubs mentioned in The Sun’s report.

Written by John Walker

Looking at Manchester United’s midfield depth for the 2019/20 season

Manchester United’s midfield is somewhat depleted following the departure of Marouane Fellaini in January and Ander Herrera leaving the club as a free agent in the summer. At least that is what the moaning relates to as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer should have strengthened the midfield during the summer transfer window.

However, the Norwegian opted to sign a winger instead, in Daniel James, who arrived for £15 million from Swansea City. It was a summer that saw Paul Pogba state to the media that he wanted a new challenge and one which saw United linked to a number of different midfielders. Bruno Fernandes was linked to the club for the entire summer window.

Some will suggest that United’s midfield is weak and there are no positives should Pogba actually leave before the European window closes, or if he suffers from an injury. However, as an optimist, I see options, not great options but options for players to grow and learn a place in the midfield. However, some will not be happy with this fix.

Defensive midfield depth; a player on the decline or players lacking experience.

Nemanja Matic is the player with experience in the defensive midfield position. But as last season and during pre-season has clearly shown, the Serbian has lost his pace, is slow and on the decline. Based on this, he will not be expected to play a big role at the club this season. There are players under him with less experience.

At this moment in time, Scott McTominay will start ahead of Matic as he has been offering more to the team than Matic can at the minute, possibly for the future too. In rotation, McTominay could be challenged by Andreas Pereira and Tim Fosu-Mensah, once he has recovered from knee surgery. Another option is James Garner.

It might not be something that you would consider great depth but it is still depth nonetheless. McTominay has developed into a decent midfielder and that has not finished for him. Having the likes of Pereira, Fosu-Mensah and Garner, also Matic means there are options there if there needs to be. Solskjaer has a plan and he will follow that plan.

Central midfield depth; Pogba has little competition for a starting central midfield role.

In this position, Paul Pogba is the player that others will need to get past in order to play regularly, at least in the 4-2-3-1 formation with only two midfielders. In another formation, say 4-3-3, a third midfielder would be given the chance to earn their place in the team. However, the 4-2-3-1 formation has been used most often by Solskjaer.

If Pogba was to be injured or was rested keeping in mind bigger matches during the course of the season, the likes of Fred and Andreas Pereira could replace him in the team. Fred could also play as a defensiveminded midfielder but this being his second season, it would be best to see him play this role. Garner too, however, it may be too soon for him.

Pereira has done well, however, I am not sure the centre of midfield is where Pereira should be playing; he played on the right-wing for periods against Chelsea last weekend. The depth here is not the greatest but it will have to do, until January at least when Solskjaer may make a move to strengthen his squad. Failing that, it will be next summer.

The formation above shows the depth of the midfield. There are seven players competing for a central midfield role, of which in the current formation, two will start each match. If the formation changes, there could be a further place available in the team. There is some strengthening needed but that doesn’t just mean buying players.

There are many players in the team that could be used in these positions if the need arises. I am sure Juan Mata could play a central role, as could Angel Gomes. It might not be ideal but it could work. However, with the seven names to fortify these positions, it would take a long injury list to ensure Solskjaer played other players out of their favoured positions.

The depth is there, although it is not as magnificent as it might be. But the way I look at things, the depth of the squad, at least in the striker role was not great in the 2015/16 season and after Anthony Martial injured himself in the warm-up ahead of the Midtjylland match, Marcus Rashford may not have had the impact in which he’s had. Every cloud and all that!

copyright: JW