Manchester United season review: Midfielders

CARSON, CA - JULY 15: Paul Pogba
CARSON, CA - JULY 15: Paul Pogba /

With the Paul Pogba world record transfer last summer, big things were expected of this unit. Arguably, they were the strongest unit on the team.

Paul Pogba

While it took a little time for him to get acclimated to the Premier League, once he got dialed in he was one of the best players in the Premier League. He developed a chemistry with Zlatan Ibrahimovic on through balls that made them one of the most lethal combinations in the Premier League.

His penchant for long shots on goal has always been evident. His abilities in passing and dribbling were also well on display this season. He’s been through a lot in his young career, being sold by Manchester United and then winning four straight Serie A titles and reaching the Champions League final with Juventus in 2015.

But the best is yet to come. He won’t light up the scoreboard but he’s like a point guard in basketball, setting the table for everyone else about as effectively as anyone in the world.

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Ander Herrera

The guy who figures to be the next captain at Old Trafford had a great year this past year and showed that he can be a team leader. The Spaniard had his best season so far at Old Trafford since coming over from Athletic in Spain after the 2013-14 campaign. He made 27 appearances and has solidified himself as one of the better defensive midfielders in the Premier League. His passing, through balls and tackling are also among his strong suits.

Where Herrera really improved this past season was in intercepting passes. He set a career high with 2.6 per game during Premier League play, which exceeded his total at Zaragosa in the 2010-11 campaign. There have been some rumors about him returning home to play for Barcelona, which may have a lot of cash if Neymar leaves for Paris Saint-Germain. However, I don’t think he’s leaving Old Trafford anytime soon.

Marouane Fellaini

The Belgian has been the subject of constant criticism during his time at United. He certainly has had some bad moments during his time at Old Trafford, but this year he seemed to be a little bit more comfortable in Jose Mourinho’s system.

We know what he is and what he is not. He’s a tall guy that is good on set pieces both offensively and defensively but in the open field just looks like a big traffic cone. He just doesn’t have the speed to match up with a lot of the quicker forwards in the Premier League.

He isn’t a bad player but he just doesn’t seem like he’s in the right league. I think if he were to go to Italy or France that he could be much more effective. As it stands, that likely won’t happen as he was signed to an extension earlier this year. But he was very useful in the Europa League and a handy squad player, but definitely not what he was expected to be coming over from Everton.

Michael Carrick

At 35, his best days are behind him. Still, he’s an intelligent player that brings a lot of leadership and experience to the locker room of a relatively young team. He had a string of starts last season that actually garnered some of United’s best results from this past year.

Next: Season review: Jose Mourinho

His strengths are that he still can hold the line fairly well on defense and does a good job passing the ball. He won’t contribute on the offensive end anymore (he hasn’t scored a goal since 2014-15) but still is a valuable player that can eat minutes both in the Premier League and in international competition. I think he should stay and it was wise to keep him, but like Wayne Rooney I see him gradually being phased out.

Season Grade: A-