Paul Pogba position change could solve Manchester United's biggest problem
Sept. 09, 2019
Man Utd have struggled for creativity this season but they might already have a solution in their starting line up.
The international break has brought with it a time for reflection, and for Manchester United it has offered a much needed escape from a Premier League season which is already beginning to spiral out of control.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side implemented a fine counter-attacking display on the opening day against Chelsea but in the following three matches they have again struggled for consistency.
United's tepid attacking displays have been nothing new under the Norwegian and even in pre-season they struggled to breakdown the likes of Perth Glory and Leeds United despite winning both games.
Instead they have had to rely on their own counter-attacking abilities and pick off sides on the break when the opportunities arise. It is a tactic which has given them great success in games against big opponents, but it is one which simply won't as effectively against sides who adopt a pragmatic approach.
Ironically this tactic might very well suit United when they face Leicester at the weekend, but reality checks will likely come in the following matches against defensive sides Astana, West Ham and Rochdale.
Solskjaer has settled on a 4-2-3-1 formation which utilises one advanced option in midfield and it seems like every possible player has been touted for the role. Jesse Lingard is preferred there by the manager, while Andreas Pereira was decent against Chelsea and Juan Mata is another viable alternative.
Many supporters have called for Angel Gomes to be deployed in the role and there is a case for Scott McTominay to play further forward if required. However, it is Paul Pogba who should perhaps be considered to spearhead the attacking line.
United's failure to break sides down has stemmed from a lack of creativity in the centre of midfield, and in particular their inability to carve open defences with considered passing play. Even from his deeper midfield role Pogba has proven he has what it takes to orchestrate from higher up the field.
In fact, Pogba has created 11 chances from open play in the Premier League this season, only Kevin De Bruyne (13) has created more. The French midfielder has been sloppy in possession at times too, but by moving him higher up the pitch his errors would be less likely to lead to goals at the other end.
Not only would moving the most creative player forward surely create more of an attacking threat, but by doing so it would offer opportunity for other midfielders to get a chance behind him.
Pogba's role as an attacking midfielder would allow McTominay to partner Fred in games played on the front foot, while James Garner and Dylan Levitt could be promoted to defensive roles when the pressure is off.
Over the next month United's attacking creativity will be put to even tougher tests, but Solskjaer might already possess the player who can revitalise their entire approach and unlock their true potential upfront.
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