Injuries and poor form have forced Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag to constantly reshuffle his deck and that has not allowed players the momentum to build on.
Most often this season, the team has looked lost, almost like they have not played together and it has been most evident in midfield where the Dutchman still does not know his strongest combination.
Casemiro’s underwhelming campaign thus far has been a major source of consternation for the former Ajax coach while zeroing in on his ideal midfield partner has also proven to be a tough ask.
The season started with the Brazilian midfield general being accompanied by new £55 million signing Mason Mount but the combination lacked balance with the former Chelsea man playing way too advanced, thus leaving a lot of gaps for the opposition to exploit.
Mount has struggled to get integrated
The England international’s versatility means he can play all across the midfield and his relentless pressing and passing attributes were on show when he was played further forward against Crystal Palace in the EFL Cup.
But when playing in a more withdrawn role, Mount’s lack of physicality and his tendency to drift into advanced areas has hindered the team and has led to a lack of balance.
His underwhelming start to his United career was followed by an injury-enforced absence and while he has shown glimpses of his talent since coming back, the 24-year-old is struggling for game time.
The Champions League winner is yet to record a goal or assist in the Premier League or Champions League and has started only four times in the league and once in Europe.
As per journalist Steve Bates, who writes in Givemesport, there is a genuine concern at the club regarding what the future holds for Mount, with many even comparing his situation with that of Donny van de Beek.
The Dutch midfielder had arrived as a world-beater but former boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer just could not find the right role for him and now the midfielder is desperately trying to end his Old Trafford nightmare.
“Erik ten Hag’s mind will no doubt be whirring with a handful of dilemmas during the international break. And it’s odds on that high on that list is Mason Mount.
“Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, manager when the Dutch midfielder signed from Ajax, never successfully integrated van de Beek into the team, struggling to find the right position for the Netherlands international.
Can ETH solve Mount puzzle?
“And it’s clear Ten Hag has also yet to solve the puzzle of where to play Mount with Bruno Fernandes, Casemiro, Christian Eriksen and Scott McTominay all in the team ahead of him. Yet another example of why United’s transfer policy often appears flawed.”
The comparison seems apt as both are versatile stars, too versatile, in fact, for their own good and cannot shine in one specified role especially due to the presence of players who are better suited to a certain role.
Mount cannot play as a defensive midfielder and he does not possess the same passing attributes as Christian Eriksen. As the attacking midfielder, Bruno Fernandes remains ahead of the Englishman. Same went for Donny.
It will be interesting to see how Ten Hag goes on to solve this dilemma. Once Sir Jim Ratcliffe arrives, he will take a good look into United’s flawed transfer policy and such deals might not happen with such alarming regularity under the INEOS chairman.