Forget the calamity keeper, what Man United need is a proper holding midfielder to challenge the Premier League’s best

Forget the calamity keeper, what Man United need is a proper holding midfielder to challenge the Premier League’s best

  • Andre Onana has received criticism for his performance in goal this season
  • But Man United need a proper holding midfielder to become a force once more
  • Sir Jim Ratcliffe could be Erik ten Hag’s biggest threat – Listen to why on It’s All Kicking Off

Arsenal have Declan Rice. Manchester City have Rodri. Tottenham have Yves Bissouma. Chelsea have Moises Caicedo. Liverpool have Alexis Mac Allister.

Manchester United, meanwhile, have a defensive midfielder who I described as a £70million panic signing last year, for which I was criticised.

Casemiro performed well last campaign. Better than I expected of the Brazilian in his 30s. But he is now injured and when he does feature, he doesn’t look like he’s got the legs to keep up with the demand of this level.

Not like Rice, or Rodri, or the other elite midfield men out there who can control proceedings. The decision to let Casemiro sign a long-term deal is looking more and more foolish because he is not the answer to the lack of protection being provided by the midfield.

Goalkeeper Andre Onana needs all the protection he can get, too, given the way he has been flapping whenever anything flies his way.

Man City are able to rely on Rodri at the base of their midfield

Arsenal can rely on Declan Rice (left), while Man City have Rodri (right) in their midfield

Chelsea can call upon £115m summer signing Moises Caicedo to strengthen their midfield

Chelsea can call upon £115m summer signing Moises Caicedo to strengthen their midfield

Tottenham's midfield enforcer Yves Bissouma has been a revelation under Ange Postecoglou

Tottenham’s midfield enforcer Yves Bissouma has been a revelation under Ange Postecoglou

Casemiro did well last season, but has not made the same impact this term and is now injured

Casemiro did well last season, but has not made the same impact this term and is now injured

Kobbie Mainoo is an excellent prospect but he is only 18. As good as he was in that first Premier League start against Everton last weekend, he needs time to blossom.

Mainoo’s lack of experience may be why Erik ten Hag did not start him at Galatasaray in the Champions League on Wednesday. United led 2-0, then 3-1, but unprotected, they threw it away to draw 3-3.

Bruno Fernandes tried to help out defensively, but he was the one who gave away the two free-kicks which led to goals from Hakim Ziyech.

Mail Sport columnist feels Man United need to bring in a proper holding midfielder

Mail Sport columnist feels Man United need to bring in a proper holding midfielder

Erik ten Hag has not managed to fix his midfield issues all season at Old Trafford

Erik ten Hag has not managed to fix his midfield issues all season at Old Trafford

Kobbie Mainoo (right) is a bright prospect, but it would be wrong too expect too much from him too soon

Kobbie Mainoo (right) is a bright prospect, but it would be wrong too expect too much from him too soon

United need a specialist protector in midfield. Someone who can act as a barrier, particularly when they have a lead. 

They have dropped eight points from winning positions in the Champions League this season, remember. That’s more than any other team among Europe’s elite.

Mainoo may be the right man in time. But it would be asking too much too soon to expect that of him now, week in, week out.

Onana’s struggles will dominate discussions after that horror show in Istanbul. But defensive midfield is a problem which needs addressing sooner rather than later for United — perhaps in the January window if they want to move forwards.

IT’S ALL KICKING OFF! 

It’s All Kicking Off is an exciting new podcast from Mail Sport that promises a different take on Premier League football.

It is available on MailOnline, Mail+, YouTube, Apple Music and Spotify.



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