Roy Keane Blasted Manchester United’s Midfield Duo Fred And Nemanja Matic For Failing To “Do Their Jobs” Against Aston Villa

Ralf Rangnick opted to start the pair at the base of United’s midfield, freeing up Bruno Fernandes, who scored twice to put his side in a commanding position.

But United soon tired in the centre of the park and Villa dragged themselves back into the game through Jacob Ramsey’s goal and an equaliser from inspired substitute Philippe Coutinho.

Speaking after the final whistle, Keane felt it was United’s lack of bite in midfield in the latter stages which allowed Villa back into it.

“United lacked control in midfield, you couldn’t be grudge Villa the draw, but United weren’t at it,” he told Sky Sports.

“The table doesn’t lie, there are still pluses, but there is still a weakness, somebody go down with an injury and break the rhythm of the game. There was aggression from United, [but] they were weak in midfield.”

He elaborated: “In any team, when you’re playing in a team you’re working with different lads who have got different strengths and weaknesses, we know what Bruno’s are, there are parts of the game he needs to improve on.

“But there is other lads in the team, Fred and Matic, to do that [defensive] side of the game but they didn’t do it well enough.

“So I’d be more critical of the other midfielders than Bruno. If he’s so good going forward he’s thinking, ‘lads, I’m doing the business going forward’ but he needs the other lads who are defensively better to do their jobs.

“The two lads in midfield didn’t do that well enough when they were under the crunch when there was lots of pressure in the last 20 minutes. That’s when you’ve got to do it for Man United.”

It’s no real secret that defensive midfield has been an area where United have needed to improve for some time.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s tendency to pair Fred with Scott McTominay in the midfield has been constantly maligned by United fans, while at 33, Matic’s best years are behind him.

Rangnick has few other options in that position at present, though, with Paul Pogba still out injured and expected to leave the club in the summer, while Donny van de Beek has struggled to convince anyone at Old Trafford he is up to the required standard.

It’s no surprise, then, that Rangnick has placed importance on bringing in a new combative midfielder as a priority, ideally before the January transfer window closes.

He has already lined up a £33million deal with former club Red Bull Leipzig for the sale of Amadou Haidara – a box-to-box player who is well-versed in the defensive duties needed of a central midfielder.

Borussia Monchengladbach’s Denis Zakaria is thought to have been put forward as a cheaper option, with his contract expiring in the summer too, and someone who possesses good strength on the ball and an ability to break opposing lines.

Yet United are reluctant to back Rangnick in the transfer market this month, given he will not be at the helm in six months’ time.

At the very least, it could require United to get some clarity on some of the senior pros nearing the exit door before they invest in the playing squad.

This will frustrate Rangnick, who even outlined his biggest concern about the United team prior to witnessing it in action against Villa.

“One of the biggest issues we have is that we lose too many balls in transition when we are in possession, it’s one of the things that worries me most to be honest,” he said before the game.

Ralf Rangnick wants the United board to invest in a new midfielderAfterwards, he conceded: “The plan was to press them in the mid zone area and we did that well in the first thirty minutes Those were the positives in the first part of the game.

“But, when you’re 2-0 you have to defend better. We gave too many balls away at times. We were not compact at times.”

Solskjaer wanted a new defensive midfielder last summer after landing Raphael Varane and Jadon Sancho, only for the club to instead sign Cristiano Ronaldo.

West Ham’s Declan Rice remains the ideal target but it’s difficult to conceive the England international jumping ship from the Hammers to Old Trafford if United do not qualify for the Champions League next season.

But regardless of whether United land Rice or not, it’s clear they must follow Rangnick’s advice and invest in an upgrade on their current options.

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