Man Utd legend Paul Scholes described Christian Eriksen as the “perfect example” of what he looks for in a midfielder after solving a problem created by two players.
Erik ten Hag’s primary midfield target this summer was Frenkie de Jong. However, when the Dutch maestro refused to leave Barcelona, Manchester United changed course and moved quickly to sign Casemiro.
The Brazilian is still bedding in at Old Trafford, though the player who has benefitted the most from De Jong staying in Spain is Christian Eriksen.
The classy Dane – who has recently been compared to Scholes – was snapped up on a free and has been instrumental in helping United to win four on the spin in the league.
He’s operated primarily alongside Scott McTominay in the double pivot role. While the Scot does the dirty work, Eriksen pulls the strings and has helped United click into gear going forward.
Central midfield was an area that came in for fervent criticism in recent times. The much maligned pairing of McTominay and Fred frustrated many a fan and pundit alike.
Scholes was one such figure to have seen enough of the duo, taking to social media after the 4-0 defeat to Brighton to blast the players.
‘McFred’ too lax in possession – Scholes
He wrote on Twitter: “Thoughts for the week: it’s all about body shape when receiving the ball, too many times facing their own goal and can only play one way.
“Get on the ‘half-turn’ for f*** sake and bring your forward more talented players into the game’. Have a great week everyone.”
He later zeroed in on Fred and McTominay specifically, adding (via the Mirror): “With Fred and McTominay, he [Ten Hag] is going to have to play just one of them [going forward] but even one of them is probably too many.
“Fred gives the ball away all the time and McTominay’s trying to run with the ball constantly and then gives it away.
“Pass it to your best players! It’s not that difficult. It’s criminal on a day like today.”
Scholes lauds Eriksen
However, Eriksen’s arrival has broken up the partnership. While McTominay is starting alongside him at present, the common consensus is Casemiro will take over eventually.
Speaking on Gary Neville’s Overlap YouTube channel, Scholes was asked what qualities he looks for in a midfielder.
After naming the main trait, he labelled Eriksen a “perfect” example of an intelligent operator.
“Intelligence, clever players with a brain,” said Scholes. “[Eriksen] is a perfect example of a player who plays with intelligence.
“He’s a clever player, he knows where he is on the pitch and knows where others are on the pitch.”
What is holding Fred and McTominay back?
Outlining further what it is specifically that lets Fred and McTominay down, Scholes continued: “Maybe I was a bit harsh on Scott and Fred. But they were just back to goal all the time.
“Forward players facing their goal, it’s a waste of time. You should be on the half-turn, so I can still see you [the player passing], but I can see my forward as well.
“Playing round the corner, you saw Casemiro do it, Eriksen does it all the time.
“The goal they scored, Eriksen received it on the half-turn, passed it forward to Fernandes, who was on the half-turn, and they scored. Small things annoy me, but if you’re playing for Manchester United you should be capable of that.
“You’d expect that wouldn’t you?”