Scott McTominay and Fred's partnership at Manchester United has become an interesting point of debate over the last few months.
While the Old Trafford faithful were overjoyed with the arrivals of Cristiano Ronaldo, Raphael Varane and Jadon Sancho this summer, many supporters bemoaned the failure to acquire a new midfielder.
With Nemanja Matic not getting any younger, there is reason to believe that the Red Devils will soon be without a single player who's favoured position is the deep-lying midfield role.
The 'McFred' dilemma
Besides, it has become pretty clear over the course of 2021 that McTominay and Fred - who have so often been drafted in defensive midfield - are far better suited as box-to-box players.
Nevertheless, in the absence of a player like Declan Rice or Wilfred Ndidi, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has persisted with the 'McFred' partnership across a number of key Premier League games.
And that proved to be particularly frustrating for United fans during the weekend's 1-0 defeat to Aston Villa when Matic and Donny van de Beek had performed so well together earlier in the week.
Solskjaer's JOB under pressure (Football Terrace)
Man Utd's midfield vs Villa
We'd be lying if we said that the 'McFred' combination was in any way the sole reason for Villa's triumph, but there's no denying that it contributed to an incoherency in United's brand of football.
One couldn't help feeling that Fred and McTominay had been thrown under the bus by both being tasked with playing extremely similar roles despite having more to offer further up the pitch.
And the damage of Solskjaer's persistence with 'McFred' during the Villa fiasco has been finely demonstrated by a United fan's viral tweet dissecting a typical moment from the United defeat.
Viral analysis of 'McFred'
Twitter user @Utd_Analytics has attracted more than 1,200 retweets and 5,200 'likes' at the time of writing for analysing an instance where McTominay and Fred held back United's ball progression.
By showing a moment in the first-half where the duo dropped into the defence when Varane was in possession, it highlighted just how much United were forced to rely on long balls - check it out:
As the analysis explained, United managed to get away with it in this instance by way of Aaron Wan-Bissaka switching the ball to Luke Shaw, but the incident remains a symptomatic one.
Not necessarily McTominay and Fred's fault
And it's important to note that the United fan in question doesn't automatically lay the blame at the feet of McTominay and Fred, but also Solskjaer and the board for insufficiently addressing the issue.
"It was pure incompetence by our club not addressing this position," the supporter explained. "Now we've got players trying to learn on the job. Learn on the job at Manchester United you know.
"Won't see that elsewhere. Feel sorry for them, they're both number eights."
And that's the crux of the issue really because although there are legitimate critiques to be lodged against McTominay and Fred, whether or not it's their fault is a different question entirely.News Now - Sport News