Despite the fact that things have been going quite smoothly for Manchester United in the past couple of months with good signings and a strong start to the new season, there are still grey areas, issues and deficiencies that still need to be sorted out in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s team.
The defensive midfield position has always been highlighted in the team, an area which was more or less ignored during the transfer window and Man Utd boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer would have to find an internal solution to the challenge if his team are to stand a major chance of competing with the very best in Europe.
Ole meanwhile is spoilt for choices in attack as the arrival of both Jadon Sancho and Cristiano Ronaldo coupled with the attacking options initially available at Man Utd have created a sort depth any team in the world would wish to have.
With the depth comes a challenge though and that challenge is mainly a manager’s challenge which would be to keep the players in the fringes who might not get regular playing time happy and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer would have to brace himself for such challenge.
One player who doesn’t seem happy is 24 year old midfielder Donny Van De Beek. The Dutchman has struggled for game time ever since he joined Man Utd last summer as he made just 19 domestic appearances of which only 4 were starts in the 2020/21 season and the former Ajax man is still yet to make a single appearance for Man Utd this season.
It doesn’t seem like things would get better for Van De Beek any time soon as he’d have to battle for the attacking midfield positions with Bruno Fernandes, Paul Pogba, and Jesse Lingard who are all in top form at the moment. Furthermore, the return of Cristiano Ronaldo has further stacked the central striking position and the flanks for Man Utd and as such none of the aforementioned attacking midfielders are likely to play on the flanks this season in order to give starting opportunities to Van De Beek. Little wonder the Dutchman’s agent referred to Ronaldo’s signing as “bad news”
The player in a recent interview with FIVE has expressed his dissatisfaction about not playing. Apparently, he feels he’s not gotten enough opportunities to show his best.
“You can train hard everyday, but in the end you need game time to show your best shape. If you play once a month you cannot show your best.”
There might just be a solution though. A solution that probably hasn’t been considered by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. And that is playing Van De Beek a lot more deeper.
Man Utd fans in recent times have expressed their dissatisfactions with the performances of their defensive midfielders with Brazilian midfielder Fred most especially being criticized as he has struggled to impressed a lot of times. Well, Fred isn’t even a natural defensive midfielder.
As mentioned earlier, Man Utd’s failure to strengthen their defensive midfield position during the transfer window highlights a major weakness which opponents could exploit. However, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer seems to already have an in-house solution in Donny Van De Beek. Judging from the records, the Dutch midfielder has incredible versatility and according to him, he can play in both attacking and defensive midfield positions as he started his career playing in a much deeper role than he presently plays in.
“When I was 16, I was really a number 6. Then I get a new coach at Ajax, when I was 17 and he said “Donny you can make a lot of goals but I want you higher up the pitch.” So I changed my style and got more offensive.
In the same interview, Donny Van De Beek expressed his willingness to play in a deeper role as he expressed that he’s got the ability to play in all midfield positions.
“Yes, yes. I like to play at 8 or 6, it’s fine. They know me because in Ajax I was playing number 10 a lot – but yeah, I can also play as a number 8 or 6.”
Well, this clearly looks like a solution served to Ole on a plate and if the Donny Van De Beek experiment at DM works, it would not only give the player enough playing time but it will also provide Man Utd a better long term solution to the deficiency in that position.
Would the Man Utd boss give it a try?