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Report: Manchester United have found the ideal cure for their midfield

Man Utd defeated FC Copenhagen 1-0 at Old Trafford in the Champions League thanks to a strong second half performance from Harry Maguire and a crucial penalty save from Andre Onana.

Report: Manchester United have found the ideal cure for their midfield

Report: Manchester United have found the ideal cure for their midfield

One Danish journalist wandered down the stairs of the press box at Old Trafford after a terrible first half and asked if it was always this bad. This season, it seemed like there was only one logical response: “Yes, it was.”

To their credit, Manchester United worked hard and won by grounding it out once more. By a strange goal, they won their third straight and their seventh overall this season. That alone illustrates just how difficult this season has been.

On a night when the team paid a magnificently deserved and poignant homage to Sir Bobby Charlton, it was important that United secured this victory. In addition to honouring Charlton on the pitch, they needed three points to resurrect their own Champions League campaign.

When United got better in the second half, Harry Maguire emerged as the unexpected hero. Granted, things couldn’t have been any worse. Once again, it was Christian Eriksen who made the difference.

Now that the Dane has entered the game at halftime in three straight Old Trafford encounters, he has altered the course of play for the second straight game. Against Sheffield United and FC Copenhagen, United’s performance has significantly improved because to his undeniable skill with the ball and his ability to play penetration passes.

At last, United took control of the match on Saturday when he made his debut at Bramall Lane. On Tuesday, he instantly brought some refinement to a woefully uncoordinated performance. He had a great opportunity to set up Marcus Rashford for an assist, and he did get one when he crossed for Maguire.

United was sorely lacking in the first half Eriksen’s ability to get his foot on the ball and locate passes to move the visitors around. This season, United’s midfield has been a bit of a disaster, but that wasn’t evident against FC Copenhagen when United got off to a poor start and sleptwalked the first 45 minutes of the match.

That was a stark contrast to the beautifully done tributes to Charlton that were heartfelt and elegant before the game. It was classy all around and left a lump in the throat, from the lone piper who followed Erik ten Hag, Alex Stepney, and Dan Gore onto the ground in pin-drop stillness to the flag held aloft in the away end.

Charlton is equated with success in Europe, much like almost all of United’s greatest players, which made the events that followed even more painful for fans. There had been booing at the halftime whistle, and the match had been dreadfully lacklustre.

In an attempt to succeed Casemiro, Sofyan Amrabat blew his own audition. He lacked the composure to really damage the Danes with his passes and was consistently wasteful when in possession. The wide gaps in midfield did not improve matters.

Playing high and frequently lining up alongside Rasmus Hojlund, McTominay had an impression while Amrabat slid deep between the centre-backs. Bruno Fernandes was always chasing possession in an attempt to create something, therefore United was ragged and their possession play was subpar in the first forty-five minutes.

That was before Eriksen entered the game. He altered a game for the second time in four days, and he is growing accustomed to that vigorous halftime warm-up.

He needs to be scheduled to start this weekend’s match against Manchester City. Eriksen hasn’t played this brilliantly since before his ankle injury in January, but with Casemiro returning, he will resume holding duties and Fernandes is a given to start. He was a key component of this team’s success in the first half of the previous campaign, and he appears to be returning to that level.

That may mean Mason Mount staying on the bench and McTominay being benched, but Eriksen deserves a chance to start following his heroics as a substitute.

He turned the tide of this game in United’s favour, even if they had to rely on Andre Onana’s brilliant penalty save to preserve a vital and fitting three points.

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