Paul Merson Criticizes Manchester United’s Lack of Fluidity in Midfield
Paul Merson has voiced his concerns over Manchester United’s midfield, suggesting that Bruno Fernandes and Mason Mount appear ‘lost’ on the pitch. Additionally, Merson believes that Sofyan Amrabat’s talents are being ‘wasted’ in the left-back position.
Manchester United’s challenging start to the season continued with a 1-0 defeat to Crystal Palace on Saturday, despite enjoying dominance at Old Trafford. The team struggled to create sufficient goal-scoring opportunities against a resilient Roy Hodgson side.
Amrabat made his full Premier League debut and initially played as a left-back due to the absence of Luke Shaw, Tyrell Malacia, and Sergio Reguillon. However, he conceded a costly free-kick that led to Palace’s winning goal and was eventually shifted to the midfield.
Mount and Fernandes joined him in the midfield, but they were unable to generate the crucial chance needed to equalize against Palace. Merson expressed his disappointment with their performance.
Merson commented, “I feel like when you’re watching Man Utd, it’s like watching Subbuteo. You blow the whistle to kick-off and at half-time, everyone is in exactly the same position as they were when they started the game. There’s no movement.”
He added, “When you manage big football clubs, you’re under pressure, and you’re under more pressure when the neighbors win. If they [Man City] had won today, then it really cranks up… it’s a must for them to get into the top four this season.”
Merson criticized Manchester United’s lack of cohesive play, stating, “You watch Man Utd play, and you just don’t see the pattern of play. It’s like if it comes off, it comes off. You watch Liverpool, Arsenal, Tottenham, Man City play, they have patterns of play. Someone will go in and come back out, but at Man Utd, it’s get the ball out wide and hope that Rashford does something and if he does, we might score a goal.”
Regarding Amrabat’s positional deployment, Merson suggested, “Amrabat was wasted out on the left in the end, he did come into the middle in the end but he should start off there. They need to dominate. It’s too slow at Man Utd, they let teams get into the game, let teams settle, but they’ve got to go for them in the first 20 minutes. There’s nothing like that.”
He concluded by emphasizing the need for improvement in the team’s midfield and tactics, “Disappointing and they didn’t make loads of chances. They were lost for ideas for a lot of the game… It’s a big worry for Man Utd at the moment and another defeat. They’re a million miles off.”
Merson expressed doubt about an immediate turnaround, suggesting that a change in formation might be necessary to address the issues in midfield. He expressed concern over the performance of Mount and Fernandes, describing them as appearing ‘lost’ and not entirely sure of their roles during matches.