Manchester United have started their Premier League campaign winning four points in the two opening rounds. After a very convincing 5-1 win against Leeds United, the Red Devils went to Southampton and came back with a 1-1 draw. In those 180 minutes of football, we have seen United score six goals, but still not win both times. We have seen three different players being used in central midfield, but we still have not seen Donny van de Beek as part of the team on the pitch. The Dutch midfielder is still very much far away from having the role in the team many have expected of him once he joined the club from Ajax back in 2020.
During the last season, Van de Beek’s first at the club, he was an unused substitute on total of 18 occasions in the league and with the new season started, that number comes to 20. He made just 19 appearances in the league last season, but to make matters even worse, those 19 appearances brought him mere 511 minutes on the pitch. That is not good enough for someone who was an important part of an Ajax side which almost ended playing in the Champions League final. So what happens with him now that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer did not opt for him against Southampton either? Where is his place in this team?
Man United Have Many Unique Players
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer knows this very well by now, but it still matters – Man United have many unique players with their favoured roles not working ideally when put together. For example, Bruno Fernandes is a classic number 10 and that is the only place on the pitch he will occupy in United’s team. Paul Pogba is a mixture of a central midfielder and left winger, a player which naturally gravitates toward that flank, but also likes to get inside, as he is not an actual winger type of player. Add in Donny van de Beek, an intelligent passer and runner without the ball, which likes to be a roaming central midfielder, with licence to attack from deeper areas and you get a mixture that is not easy to bring ideal structure on the pitch.
Right now, it is not possible for United to play anything other than a 4-2-3-1, since Bruno is the player running things from behind the striker. That leaves Van de Beek with only two spots where he can play and Solskjaer is obviously not trusting the Dutchman enough to give him a restricted, more defensive role. Also, using Van de Beek in such a way would have limited his natural qualities.
So What Happens Next?
There have been rumours around the media that Van de Beek was not Solskjaer’s signing, but that does not make sense, since the manager has the veto on all dealings. Van de Beek is also reportedly ready to dig deep and work really hard, wishing to stay at Old Trafford and prove himself. That is very commendable, but it does not seem like the player himself will get huge amounts of playing time anytime soon, as long as United keep playing a 4-2-3-1 with Bruno and Pogba on the pitch and in this form. Maybe there comes a place for him if those two are out of the picture due to injuries, but that is not something to rely on. Seeing Solskjaer changing this system is probably not going to happen while his best players are all healthy and the feeling is Van de Beek will have to stay very patient for a longer while.