Exclusive: Savage questions desire of Man Utd players; identifies one ‘huge worry’

Bruno Fernandes and Casemiro Man Utd Credit: Alamy
Bruno Fernandes and Casemiro Man Utd Credit: Alamy

Robbie Savage has criticised the lack of desire from Man Utd players to track runners and defend following their defeat to Brighton, while describing the midfield as a “huge worry.”

The former Wales international, who started his career with the Red Devils but did not make a senior appearance, feels summer signing Sofyan Amrabat could play a “huge part” when available to feature.

Man Utd suffered a disappointing 3-1 loss to Brighton at Old Trafford on Saturday, leaving them 13th in the Premier League on just six points after five matches.

The Red Devils, who finished third last season, have also lost to Tottenham and Arsenal, as well as unconvincingly beating Wolves and Nottingham Forest at home, in a worrying start to the campaign.

The ineffectiveness of Utd’s midfield has drawn particular criticism, with a quartet of Casemiro, Scott McTominay, Bruno Fernandes and Christian Eriksen starting against the Seagulls – where the hosts were overrun in the middle of the park.

Defensive midfielder Sofyan Amrabat, a Morocco international signed from Fiorentina in the summer transfer window, is yet to play due to injury.

READ MORE: Man Utd: Neville questions ‘panic’ buy as Amrabat comes in to solve ‘massive’ Ten Hag ‘problem’

Speaking exclusively to Football365 on behalf of Planet Sport Bet, Savage discussed Scott McTominay’s return to the side and Man Utd’s change of shape in midfield after their defeat to Brighton. 

“Well at the weekend, obviously Scott McTominay came into the side. I think his performances for Scotland, inevitably, and his work on the training ground, pushing himself,” said Savage.

“Knowing Scott McTominay, his work ethic, I know he’s a huge influence around Manchester United – in the changing room and in training. I think he dictates the tempo. So I think he’s got his opportunity. I think he’s the top scorer in Europe in the [Euros] qualification campaign, so I think he’s earned his opportunity.

“Ten Hag went to a diamond in midfield at the weekend to try and nullify Brighton, but Brighton played through them. That would be a huge worry. Amrabat, you know, when’s he gonna be available for selection? I think he can play a huge part.  I think Casemiro has been isolated.”

The Welshman then lamented the lack of defensive intensity from The Red Devils’ midfield players and argued the club’s greatest midfielders were never guilty of this.

“But the thing which I watched at the weekend against Brighton was the desire to track runners from midfield. That would be a huge worry. It’s okay when you have the ball,” continued Savage.

“Even the best Manchester United midfielders – I’m talking about [Ryan] Giggs, [Roy] Keane, [Paul] Scholes and [David] Beckham – Beckham used to sprint towards his own goal. He could create stuff on the right hand side for Manchester United when they played the 4-4-2.

“His work ethic, Scholes’ work ethic, Keane, and Giggsy, they all used to run as fast as they could. Not just towards the opposition goal, but towards their own goal. And I’m not seeing that kind of desire at this minute in time from a Manchester United midfield to defend their goal, and therefore they’re getting beat.

“That’s not just the midfielders’ fault, there’s a responsibility on the whole team. At the minute, watching Manchester United performances, they haven’t got the balance right. They need to massively improve. Will Amrabat solve those problems? Time will tell. But it’s a huge worry.”

Man Utd face Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich in their first Champions League group stage game at the Allianz Arena on Wednesday.

READ MORE: Kane will have ‘bit between his teeth’ for Bayern Munich in Man Utd clash, believes club legend

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