In the golden era of Manchester United, the Old Trafford club had at least three or four players jostling for a spot especially in the attacking areas.
In 1999, “United won the treble of trophies (the Premier League, FA Cup and UEFA Champions League), the first side in English football to achieve such a feat”, thanks to the firepower of Dwight Yorke, Teddy Sheringham and Ole Gunnar Solsjkaer with the latter renowned for his injury time winner against Bayern Munich in the Champions League final that year.
Today, United boasts of the likes of Marcus Rashford, Bruno Fernandez, Paul Pogba, Anthony Martial, Donny van de Beek, Mason Greenwood and lately Cavani as arrays of talent in attacking end of play.
However, one debate that has dominated football punditry in recent time is how Solsjkaer could get the best out of Paul Pogba and Bruno Fernandes in the same team.
Former Liverpool defender now turned pundit, Jamie Carragher, is one of the advocates of this school of thought.
“I actually admire (Ole Gunnar) Solskjaer for putting Pogba on the bench,” Carragher said on Monday Night Football, as quoted by the Daily Mail.
“I said a few weeks ago after the Crystal Palace game, Fernandes and Pogba is not a midfield that can play together and never will be.”
Meanwhile, the fact that United could not find their rhythm against Crystal Palace, on the opening day of the 2020/21 football season, could be down to other factors such as match fitness not necessarily because Solsjkaer fielded Fernandes and Pogba from the start.
With Ole Gunnar Solsjkaer’s team gradually improving on their fitness, here’s our analysis of how Pogba and Bruno Fernandes could be set up to a devastating effect in the coming weeks of competitive football.
One thing we must acknowledge first is that Pogba and Fernandes are both offensive players with a knack for driving forward and not seating deep to dictate play in the mould of Andrea Pirlo.
Therefore, for both players to start against a top football team, the immediate task is to find the right balance defensively.
So far, Fred and Scott McTominay had combined well in midfield to give the United defense the needed shield in recent games. So, we’re opting for these two in midfield with Harry Maguire and Victor Lindelof starting in the heart of defense in a 4-2-3-1 formation.
With David de Gea retaining his position in between the sticks, Wan-Bissaka occupying the right back slot and Alex Telles slotting-in in the opposite direction in defense, we have a defensive set up capable to hold their own against a top side.
Meanwhile, McTominay and Fred are expected to sit deeper in the middle in order to shield the defense and to give Pogba the license to move freely in the central area of the pitch, switching from defense to attack.
On the other hand, Bruno Fernandez takes the role of a ‘false nine’, starting in attack. He’s entrusted with the role to hold up play up front; to create room for Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial to find their ways into the 18-yard box of the opposition in a swift counter attack.
Martial and Rashford are expected to drop off into the middle when United don’t have the ball as well as accelerating into attacking areas in a quick attack. This tactic also provides Alex Telles the opportunity to run the show on the left side of the pitch.