Scott McTominay is wowing a pundit at Man Utd this year and the Scot has handed Erik ten Hag a selection dilemma that will result in a major omission against Man City.
McTominay forms one half of one of the most criticized midfield formations in Premier League history. His tandem with Fred, often nicknamed “McFred” derisively, was the target for scorn from fans and pundits alike.
The arrival of Brazilian superstar Casemiro in the summer should end Fred and McTominay’s partnership once and for all.
The pairing was interrupted, but not by Casemiro.
Instead, it was Christian Eriksen who was tasked with pulling the strings alongside McTominay. The redesigned engine room was a revelation.
McTominay is a one-man wrecking crew and having a calming and stylish influence like Eriksen at his side seems to do wonders for his game.
Ten Hag generally employs a 4-2-3-1 formation, with three attackers playing behind a single forward.
Jadon Sancho has made the left wing role his own, while Antony is likely to operate on the right.
A Surprise might have sprung in this position, after Paul Merson. However, United will want to retain as much threat as possible.
Bruno Fernandes should remain central in the No 10 role and that also means Ten Hag can have the Portuguese playmaker in the same eleven as Eriksen.
However, writing in his column for the BBCexpert Danny Murphy believes a change may be underway.
Eriksen or Fernandes to make room?
Murphy suggested Ten Hag will be tempted to start Casemiro against City, possibly in favor of one of his creative players.
In this scenario, Casemiro would play alongside McTominay and Eriksen would be out. Either that, or Eriksen would move up to 10th and Fernandes would be the fall type.
Murphy stressed Ten Hag are in a tough spot having committed £70m to buy Casemiro. If the ex-Real Madrid superstar doesn’t start in the big games – and they don’t get bigger than the Manchester derby – then why was he signed?
Alternatively, Ten Hag would stick with those who have served him well in his four-game winning streak in the league.
However, that would see Casemiro released back to a bench spot and he should thrive on the big occasions.
“Manchester United’s midfield has played a huge role in Erik ten Hag’s team’s recent resurgence. But it’s absolutely critical that he gets that area right at Etihad Stadium on Sunday,” Murphy wrote.
“Ten Hag has to decide whether to keep both Christian Eriksen and Bruno Fernandes in against Manchester City, or choose a more defensive formation and play with two real savers this time.
“With a player as good as Casemiro waiting in the wings for his first league start there must be a temptation to pair him up with Scott McTominay to give his defense extra protection.
“But if Ten Hag does that and leaves out one of his more creative players, then if Manchester United loses, he is asked why he switched a winning team and didn’t try again.”
McTominay a man on a mission
Ten Hag’s problem is welcome. In fact, it’s far better to have too many viable options than too few.
Regardless, the dilemma only arose thanks to McTominay’s great form. Murphy has been very impressed with his performance as a Scotland international this season.
He continued: “People will say why bring Casemiro in and not use him in a game like this?
“United’s dilemma was caused in part by Scott McTominay’s brilliant form, in addition to the performances of Eriksen and Fernandes.
“McTominay has sat lower alongside Eriksen in a defensive role. He’s done so well that he’s left Casemiro out of the team since signing from Real Madrid in August.
“We already knew McTominay had the athleticism and energy for the position. But what has really impressed me lately is the discipline he has shown as well.
“In the games I watched, the amount of balls he cleared in his own box was phenomenal.
“He’s great at spotting danger and coming back to help his centre-backs.
“He’s really gotten better, it’s like he took on the role. But I don’t think he can do it alone against a team as good as City.”
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