United Under the Microscope - Midfielders
The Beating Heart
Out of all the area's United have truly been 'great' in over the decades, the midfield has surely been the most obvious. From tough-tackling leaders in Robson, Keane and Scholes, to flamboyant and magical wingers in Beckham and Cristiano Ronaldo, almost everyone knows about the quality United once possessed.
How far United have fallen, eh?
At the end of the 17/18 campaign, United lost one of their most undervalued legends in Michael Carrick. Most betting markets still predicted the Red Devils to be dining at the top table of the league as the silky midfielder took up a position in Jose Mourinho's coaching staff for the 18/19 campaign, however his impact has sadly been minimal for a team that is badly lacking a.) a genuine creative output from the middle, and b.) a steady, no-nonsense holding middle man.
Nemanja Matic was perhaps the most obvious 'Mourinho man' in the team for the Portuguese manager in his time at the club. His form had tailed off at the end of the 17/18 season and he has bore the brunt of many fan's irritation over the course of this year. His lack of pace and creativity stands as the ultimate contradiction to the values United have for so long stood for and believed in, however his constant selection under Ole Gunnar Solskjær seems to indicate an immediate future at the club.
Widely considered to be the one of the only 'world class' players in the United team, Paul Pogba has had a strange season. In terms of numbers, it has been Pogba's most successful season with 13 goals and 9 assists in the league, a fine return in most circumstances. However, this is a supposed leader we're talking about here. A one time world record signing, who loves to be the centre of attention and lap up the limelight when he's swaggering about with the undeniable talent he has to offer. Sadly for United, Pogba simply has not provided enough to drag United into a better position this season.
It might be harsh, but welcome to the world of being a top class player. Messi, Van Dijk, Aguero, Kompany, Hazard and co. have all dragged their teams into winning positions this season, and Pogba simply has not.
In many ways, a bigger problem for United has been the downward form of important squad players such as Jesse Lingard, who proved so useful for the club in the 17/18 season. Lingard, Herrera, Mata, Fellaini (when he was here) and Fred have all had periods of extremely poor form that have undoubtedly hindered United's progression this season, whereas the midfields in sides such as Liverpool, City, Arsenal and even sides like Wolves and Everton have eclipsed United.
Scott McTominany's form at the end of the season was really the only positive to take from the middle of the field's perspective, and it looks like there is some real potential that United have a gem on their hands with him. It'll be interesting to see the impact Scott can have on the team's shape next season.