Manchester United have had a problem with their team's spine for a long time. And now the statistics are proving it too, United's squad is extremely unbalanced and top-heavy due to a lack of significant investment in the defensive midfield position.
The statistic of how often players are dribbled past is further confirmation that the problem will stop them from progressing to the next level.
According to statistics, Fred, United's key defensive midfielder, has been dribbled past more times than any other defensive midfielder from the other top six teams.
So far this season, he's been dribbled past three times every 90 minutes, which is a worrisome statistic given his role as the team's glue.
Fred has no business playing for United in this position. Fred was bought for £47 million (according to BBC Sport) and started his career as an attacking midfielder before being converted to a defensive midfielder, where his many shortcomings are glaringly obvious.
Times dribbled past per 90 of Defensive midfielders of the Premier League's big-six this campaign:
Man Utd – Fred (3)
Arsenal – Thomas Partey (2.5)
Spurs – Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg (1.9)
Liverpool – Fabinho (1.7)
Chelsea – N'Golo Kante (1.1)
Man City – Rodri (0.6)
Credit — WhoScored.com
Even when their totals are added together, the true DMs of Rodri and Fabinho at Manchester City and Liverpool have been dribbled past fewer per 90 minutes.
The player that is most similar to the Brazil International in the list above is Kante, who plays more as a box-to-box player than a pure DM, although both are known to be tigerish ball winners.
All that can be concluded from in this comparison is that one deserves his reputation as one of the best ball-winners in the world, while the other should not be in their club's starting lineup.
United have invested significantly in their squad, including attacking midfielders like Donny van de Beek, who is forced to play out of position when given the opportunity.
Trying to retrofit people into positions to balance the team isn't a long-term answer, and it's one that can't be sustained if the club wants to be successful.
Instead of being stubborn and sticking with a player that doesn't fit the team's needs, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer should identify a player who does and spend huge money on them.
Photo credit: Google Images
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