Erik ten Hag already has the answer to Manchester United’s midfield dilemma

Erik ten Hag is keen to strengthen his new club’s midfield department this summer. Manchester United have been linked with a number of players including Declan Rice and Frenkie de Jong to name just a few.

It remains to be seen who the Red Devils will target, but they may have an internal solution worth considering. James Garner has spent the year on loan at Nottingham Forest but in the coming weeks he will return to Carrington.

The United youth squad achieved promotion to the Premier League on Sunday after playing 90 minutes. Is it good enough for Ten Hag to consider next season?

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Now 21, the United loanee gained valuable experience at the City Ground this season. He was an ever-present figure for Forest, starting 36 of their 46 championship games.

Steve Cooper used several different formations, from 4-2-3-1 to 3-4-3, although as the season progressed he eventually settled on 3-4-1-2 as his preferred option.

Regardless of the system, Forest largely persisted with a midfield pairing in midfield, with Garner regularly filling one of those two spots, scoring four goals and registering eight assists.

Most of his assists came from dead ball situations. Cooper capitalized on Garner’s ability to shoot from set pieces, and the young Englishman took control of most of Forest’s chances from corners and free kicks.

His influence on the Forest game would not have been as prominent if set pieces were not part of his purview, which is not ideal considering the dynamic at Old Trafford, with Cristiano Ronaldo, Bruno Fernandes, Alex Telles and Luke Shaw typically ruling those. situations

Garner’s delivery technique is also present in open play. In fact, it was his cross that resulted in Forest beating Huddersfield in Sunday’s play-off final. He created such danger with his whipped pass that an opposing defender couldn’t help but clear the ball into his own net.

Garner has proven to be an industrious and hard-working talent at Nottingham. His willingness to aggressively win the ball back is a setback at times. His attitude seems excellent and his commitment to the cause is undeniable, although it remains questionable whether his level is high enough for United.

Ten Hag will have aspirations to dominate European football for years to come. The Dutchman will demand fluid attacking football and, despite Garner’s potential and Championship promise, it is reasonable to suggest that he would be little more than a Manchester squad player at best.

He could probably do a job as a substitute or as an option to be deployed in domestic cup games, but in the Premier League and Champions League, United’s standards have been set by the likes of Paul Scholes, Roy Keane and Michael Carrick. .

Garner has a solid career ahead of him, but if he wants to continue to thrive, his teammates will have to find ways to mask his limitations while enhancing his set-piece prowess. Whether that should happen at a new club is still up for debate.

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