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Man Utd have Mason Mount problem that Erik ten Hag has brought about himself

Aug 12, 2023Aug 12, 2023

Manchester United have struggled so far this season, and their core problem appears to lie in midfield. Erik ten Hag acquired the services of Mason Mount earlier this summer from Chelsea, but the England international has somewhat sparked confusion on the pitch and appears to have unbalanced the side.

The Red Devils were far from convincing last weekend when beating Wolves 1-0, and their performance was equally as underwhelming last Saturday when losing 2-0 to Tottenham. Spurs’ midfield duo of Yves Bissouma and Pape Sarr ran the show in north London, with James Maddison being given the licence to roam as a result.

United’s midfield trio of Mount, Casemiro and Bruno Fernandes failed to lay a glove on their opponents and spent 90 minutes chasing their shadows, in a display that will have been a true cause for concern for Ten Hag.

Last season, the Red Devils’ midfield had balance with Casemiro often being partnered by a midfielder that was instructed to occupy a deeper role and primarily focus on retrieving possession and fuelling attacks from deep – such as Fred and Christian Eriksen. However, Mount appears to have been shoe-horned into that position this season and is struggling.

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Given that he only arrived at Old Trafford this summer, the 24-year-old may simply be getting to grips with the new system and attempting to settle in. But the role does not appear to utilise his best attributes and has simply left Casemiro with a two-man job in trying to protect the backline when attempting to fill the vacant space left by his new teammate.

When at his best, Mount has been deployed as a No 10 and has been allowed to get across the pitch to make use of his creativity and his willingness to get on the ball and make things happen. But that is not what is required when playing as a central midfielder in Ten Hag’s system, and he is compromising the team at this stage.

Fernandes’ attacking impact has decreased as a result, with an argument to be had over whether the Portugal international and Mount are capable of playing in a midfield three together given their similar styles and desire to occupy similar spaces.

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We will see if Fernandes thrives once more in Mount's absence in the coming weeks with the ex-Chelsea man set for a spell out injured.

When he returns though, the pair may be better suited to rotating and allowing each other to rest for certain fixtures this season in what will be a congested campaign now that the Red Devils are back in the Champions League.

Time may be able to heal the matter, but United’s desire to sign another midfielder this summer would highlight that Ten Hag is demanding further reinforcements and could suggest that he has already recognised that Mount needs to push forward and be relieved of defensive duties.

It remains to be seen whether an acquisition late in the window changes the shape of the midfield or if the ex-Ajax boss feels that he can mould Mount into the midfielder that his side needs once he's back to full fitness.

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