Manchester United’s second half performance against Chelsea yesterday highlighted a couple of weaknesses or inconsistencies in the middle of the team which simply have to change ahead of the next campaign.
There’s not been too much wrong with United this season but there are areas which need work and areas which need a subtle change, some of which the manager can engineer and some of which are down to the players.
United need to add a little bit of depth to their midfield for two major reasons. Firstly, the side needs cover for more than just one injury and secondly, the loss of experience from Paul Scholes needs to be compensated for.
This is something that Sir Alex Ferguson will be aware of and in the same way he acted to sign Robin Van Persie last summer, don’t be surprised to see him add one or two players in the midfield this summer.
United don’t need any more wide players because they have several. What they need from one or two of those wingers is consistency.
Nani, Antonio Valencia and Ashley Young have not showed any spells of consistency this season when they get into the first team. Each time Ferguson has to change one of them, it affects the rest of the team because they are all very different players.
Those players should be very worried because the form of Wilfried Zaha is so good at the moment, Ferguson may consider throwing him in at the deep end when the Premier League starts next season.
Shinji Kagawa is currently the only David Silva or Xavi type player that United have in their midfield. The big signing Ferguson has to make this summer is that blockbuster playmaker, who will sit behind the striker or strikers and pull all of the strings.
United have solid midfield players but they don’t have that sort of player who can thread the ball through the back four, especially when Kagawa is being forced to play out of position.
Ferguson has to get the balance right between protecting and using his young players. They are young which means they won’t play well all the time but they have to be consistently used because that’s the only way they are going to get better.
Basic skills in the midfield also have to be worked on very hard; general possession, ball retention and fluency of attacks.
If the second half against Chelsea told us anything it’s that United give the ball away too easily and need more fluency in terms of building pressure over the opposition, pinning them inside their own half.
Fortunately for United, they have the best boss to make these basic and simple changes and the finances available, providing they don't blow their entire transfer budget on Ronaldo.
United fans, what do you think the midfield needs?
image: © Nasmac