As Manchester United continue their dazzling start to the domestic season, one aching niggle still resides at the heart of the league leaders: midfield. With Paul Scholes retiring to the Old Trafford coaching roster and Owen Hargreaves’ shifting his allegiances to the noisiest of neighbours next door, questions still remain regarding United’s relative strength in depth in the middle.
It must be said that neither of the two names dropped above have been first team regulars for some time, but in losing the seasoned safety net of Paul Scholes and his latter day, ‘problem solver’ cameos, along with the never-ending reservoir of perpetual hope that Hargreaves might find redemption and match fitness any day now, Manchester United have scooped away the overgrowth to reveal a threadbare patch beneath. Besides the emergence and re-emergence of Tom Cleverley and Anderson, respectively, the other midfield options appear thin on the ground. Fletcher is still fighting for form and fitness, Carrick has become a conservative, tactical sub, Gibson is nowhere to be seen and Giggs, whilst still retaining the qualities and ability required, is now a rare but welcome commodity rather than the dependable resource needed in an injury crisis.
With Tom Cleverley out injured, now could be the time for another of United’s current prospects to take their chance against the old enemy, Leeds United tomorrow night in the League Cup. The provisional squad list for the away trip to West Yorkshire features a number of potential debutants and reserve players in Lindegaard, Amos, Owen, Macheda, Diouf, Will Keane, Matt James, Reece Brown, Michael Keane, Tom Thorpe and Zeki Fryers, but the one name that stands out is Paul Pogba.
Pogba has looked fantastic at youth and reserve levels, carving a reputation for his on-the-ball composure, intelligent plays, tenacity and a knack for scoring long-range screamers; everything required on the way to becoming a proper box-to-box midfielder. And whilst expectations and hype can be a terrible thing, Pogba always appears the picture of calmness, emanating a composure, confidence and focus that will hopefully see him to allying his undoubtable ability with hard, grafted application at the highest of levels.
On 20th September 2011 Paul Pogba should make his first team debut for Manchester United at Elland Road. With the potential for a match day bench stocked up with yet more of United’s latest crop, name making glory could become contagious over the Pennines. Let’s not forget the problems Leeds caused United two seasons ago when they won their FA Cup 3rd round match up at Old Trafford thanks to a Jermaine Beckford goal, and the Whites will be well up for puncturing United’s early season momentum with another knockout victory.
What do you think of the potential debutants and how will they fare against Leeds United in the cup tomorrow?