Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has been warned that Bruno Fernandes and Paul Pogba should not be used in the same Manchester United midfield.
The Red Devils earned their first win of the fledgling Premier League campaign on Saturday, with Fernandes converting a 100th minute penalty in a dramatic 3-2 victory over Brighton.
But the game at The Amex, once again highlighted United’s deficiencies at the back, with the Seagulls peppering David de Gea’s goal for much of the afternoon.
In total, Brighton hit the woodwork five times, as well as scoring twice, including what looked like a last-gasp equaliser.
And pundit Danny Murphy has suggested that playing both Fernandes and Pogba leaves United lacking in defensive areas, after conceding five times in their opening two league games.
“Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has a big decision to make because Manchester United will continue to ship goals if he keeps on naming Paul Pogba and Bruno Fernandes in the same line-up,” he said in his Mail Sport column.
“Excellent creative players as they are, neither is good enough defensively to play together in a three-man midfield.
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“That is certainly the case against any of the Big Six and on Saturday they were repeatedly caught out against Brighton.
“It is not laziness on Bruno or Pogba’s part,” Murphy added. “It is just an aspect of their game that defensively they are reactive rather than proactive. They just do not spot or sense danger quickly enough. By the time they realise they need to get back, it is too late.”
Despite scoring in the opening day defeat to Crystal Palace, summer signing Donny van de Beek had to settle for a place on the bench against Brighton.
And Murphy believes Solskjaer will need to put the former Ajax man in from the start in order to address the team’s problems at the back.
“I think it is significant that United have signed Donny van de Beek from Ajax. He has got more energy and is more of a genuine box-to-box player than Pogba or Bruno.
“I think once he is fully integrated into the United set-up, he starts with a more orthodox holding midfield player and that leaves one spot left for the two glamour players, unless you are up against a weaker team at Old Trafford without much attacking threat.
“Over the past few months, I have to say Bruno has been more influential in an attacking sense than Pogba, so I do not know where that leaves the Frenchman, who has been substituted just over an hour into both United’s Premier League games.”
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