Man United’s looming Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard tactical problem & how the manager might solve it

Paul Pogba & Bruno Fernandes

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is yet to name a Manchester United XI with the club’s two-star midfielders, Paul Pogba and Bruno Fernandes, in the same team.

Pogba is Man United’s £89 million record signing, while the Red Devils spent £67.7 million on Fernandes in January.

This season, mainly due to ankle problems, Pogba has been reduced to only 7 Premier League appearances.

However, the French World Cup winner is poised to be available when the Premier League restarts on June 17.

Accordingly, Man United fans have begun seeing Pogba and Fernandes together at training in recent days.


Paul Pogba

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND – AUGUST 11: Paul Pogba of Manchester United at full time of the Premier League match between Manchester United and Chelsea FC at Old Trafford on August 11, 2019 in Manchester, United Kingdom. (Photo by Matthew Ashton – AMA/Getty Images)

The relationship between Paul Pogba & Bruno Fernandes

In the Times on Monday, reporter Paul Hirst dropped the following anecdote about Pogba and Fernandes’s relationship:

The initial signs are good. The two players have been getting along well this week according to those who have watched their progress at Carrington.

Some aspects of their personalities are very different — Pogba drove a Rolls-Royce to training last week while Fernandes’s car of choice is a Mini — but they both have a competitive streak that unites them and makes them respect each other.


Bruno Fernandes

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND – MARCH 08: Bruno Fernandes of Manchester United gestures during the Premier League match between Manchester United and Manchester City at Old Trafford on March 8, 2020 in Manchester, United Kingdom. (Photo by Daniel Chesterton/Offside/Offside via Getty Images)

Man United’s looming Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard tactical problem

So how will Man United line up when they have Pogba and Fernandes both available?

The Times have spoken to United legend Bryan Robson on this issue, and Robson believes that Pogba is likely to have to adopt a more defensive side to his game to dovetail with Bruno in the XI:

It’s like when people used to say [Steven] Gerrard and [Frank] Lampard couldn’t play together because they were similar but I think they could have done.

Lampard was always going to be an attacking player, and Gerrard had it in his locker to defend and read the game well.

He could play that sitting role, and Paul has got the ability to do it too, but what he has got to do is to take on more responsibility on the defensive side of the game if Ole is going to ask him to play that role.


MANCHESTER, ENGLAND – JANUARY 22: Manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer of Manchester United walks off at half time during the Premier League match between Manchester United and Burnley FC at Old Trafford on January 22, 2020 in Manchester, United Kingdom. (Photo by Matthew Peters/Manchester United via Getty Images)

Two possible Man United XIs

When Pogba and Fernandes are both available, Solskjaer appears to have two main tactical options: 4-2-3-1 or 4-3-3.

Regardless of which system Solskjaer picks, Pogba is likely to have to play a more defensive role while Fernandes plays further upfield.

Manchester United possible 4-3-3 team

Manchester United possible 4-3-3 team

 

Manchester United possible 4-2-3-1 team

Manchester United possible 4-2-3-1 team

 

Man United could have bought Bruno Fernandes for much cheaper

A classic ‘what if’ story…

Sporting Lisbon president Frederico Varandas has recently crowed that the Lions would have been forced to sell Bruno Fernandes for a far lower amount had the club held onto the midfielder until this summer.

Varandas was speaking with respect to how the Covid-19 pandemic has impacted football. He said:

The crisis caused by Covid-19 harms the European football industry in general.

But, of all countries, Portugal is the most affected because 50 per cent of revenues come from the sale of players.

Fernandes was sold for £68m in January.

Today, what would he be worth? Maybe £17m? £27m? Nobody knows.

 

Also see: Manchesters United & City, Chelsea, Wolves will be granted UK travel quarantine exception.

UEFA consider ‘final four’ format to close Champions League & Europa League which may impact Man City, Man United & Wolves.


This article was edited by Ben Green.