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Manchester United entered this season in a way in which they haven’t since the glory days of Sir Alex Ferguson.
They came into this new campaign with both positivity and, for a change, actual ability to compete for the title with the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Raphael Varane joining the club.
Feeling pumped! ⛓🔥#MUFC | #UCL pic.twitter.com/6Pvw6pcgOK
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) September 28, 2021
Such a statement would insinuate that after only a handful of games, it is all doom and gloom for the Red Devils and the mood of the fans would suggest that too. However, United do sit just a point off the top the table in the league still and there should be no reason for panic.
On the other hand, a defeat in the Champions League on the opening night and the exit from the League Cup on home turf in their first round suggests time for change is clearly needed, and that change simply has to come in the midfield in the form of Donny van de Beek.
The Dutch international, still just 24, was a monumental signing quite out of the blue last summer as all the attention was focused on Jadon Sancho and the recruitment of a defender.
Nevertheless, there is a reason the likes of Barcelona and Bayern Munich wanted him, and United managed to get the deal done in no time.
Van de Beek brings with him an exceptional record in goal contributions and the ability to play anywhere across the midfield; something United have desired since the days of players like Michael Carrick.
In fact, within 175 games for Ajax, van de Beek netted 41 and contributed 34 assists which isn’t too far off the level of the great Bruno Fernandes.
Many of the Dutchman’s games would come in attacking midfielder and most would be played in central midfield.
However, his defensive stability and understanding of the game shone through in abundance as he occupied a more defensive role which may now be Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s last hope at salvaging this underperforming yet phenomenal side.
Paul Pogba’s ability to move over the left side to allow for more creative distribution has been a stroke of genius by United’s coaching staff, while the attacking midfielder position is Fernandes’ and only his.
Now, with Scott McTominay’s poor form and Fred’s continued wayward nature, van de Beek has to get a run out in defensive midfield just as he did for Ajax, because simply put, there are no other valuable options.