Erik ten Hag can finally unleash new Manchester United midfield partnership – Daniel Murphy

Erik ten Hag transformed United&aposs fortunes in his first season in charge and that progress was built on the solid foundation of Casemiro and Christian Eriksen. The two new arrivals finally brought the side a long-needed steel to the middle as well as genuinely good passing.

The duo were so good together that it became a problem when one or both were unavailable. The drop in quality was stark. But given both are in their 30s and liable to pick up injuries, it was correctly reasoned they would need back-up to get through the season. More quality in the department was required.

Ten Hag set about recruiting just that in the summer. Mason Mount was pursued over a desperately-needed striker and United caved in to pay above their limit in a 60m deal. Further reinforcement was added in the shape of Sofyan Amrabat on an initial loan.

It appeared to be mission accomplished but it has turned out to be a disaster. Mount has shown flashes but is yet to really demonstrate his class and has already found himself out of the starting XI. Amrabat has been even worse and does not look cut out for the top level.

To compound the issues, Casemiro suffered a steep drop in form before picking up an injury and now Eriksen has been sidelined for a month as well. The Dane&aposs injury is particularly unfortunate as he had just reinstated himself back in the side and was forming a good understanding with Scott McTominay.

Ten Hag had bemoaned the lack of balance in his midfield last week but in the new partnership, he was finally starting to get some. The question now is, how does he find it again with Eriksen out?

McTominay has more than earned his spot in the side. He is pretty much United&aposs only in-form player and has become a real goal threat after his transformation playing for Scottland. But his old frailties remain with a lack of technical ability on the ball and poor positional sense.

McTominay wants and should be getting forward, it&aposs where he&aposs most effective, but that means his partner needs to be a sitter. Someone who can cover him. That&aposs not a job for Mount and while it should be for Amrabat he isn&apost proving capable just yet.