There are some things which seem tailor made for each other, two forces that when they meet suddenly become unstoppable. Reeves and Mortimer, Busby and Murphy, Jeremy Clarkson and obscurity, they’re the perfect combination that are destined for success. Right now there’s another possible concoction of footballing delights on the horizon that should whet the appetite of Reds everywhere- United and Timothy Fosu-Mensah.
While the collective fan base is busy creaming their undies at the prospect of Jose Mourinho and his image rights arriving at Old Trafford and carrying United to unimaginable glories, the young man who’s barely featured for the first team could just be key for the Special One’s attempts at success.
It’s easy in a season that has delivered so little in terms of excitement to get carried away by a handful of stellar performances by an almost unknown teenager, but while the likes of Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford have prevented most Reds from chucking their season tickets off the nearest bridge, then jumping off it, Fosu-Mensah could prove to be equally as important as the aforementioned free scoring duo.
Right now, despite United’s poor league form, the team is in relatively good shape. If and it’s a big ‘if’, the Reds can keep hold of David De Gea, then the world’s greatest keeper will be between the Old Trafford sticks, while Cameron Borthwick-Jackson, Luke Shaw, Chris Smalling and Daley Blind can form the nucleus of a strong defensive squad, although naturally there’ll need to be at least one addition, maybe two. Attacking wise, United have the two amazing youngsters who’ve saved not just the fans’ season but also their sanity, throw into the mix, Ander Herrera, Juan Mata and the grossly underrated Jesse Lingard and again it’s a strong base. One or two signings or even Memphis waking from his perpetual stupor and there could be reasons for defences to truly fear United once more, like they used to only a few years ago on a weekly basis.
It’s in midfield that the real question marks arise, as even the most deluded of Reds would struggle to deny United have some serious issues. Bastian Schweinsteiger has played less games than Owen Hargreaves managed in his first few months at the club, Morgan Schneiderlin still suffers from a lack of confidence and consistency, Marouane Fellaini is capable of doing a job but is a target for opposing players and more worryingly referees, Michael Carrick is approaching 40, Wayne Rooney is still getting to grips with the fact he’s not quick, reliable or good enough to be a striker anymore while Chris Eubank Jr is a boxer who doesn’t play for United and so is completely irrelevant to any discussion about the midfield.
United are crying out for a youthful, energetic defensive midfielder who can get hold of the ball and let the likes of Rooney spray passes, or Martial make a darting run. Not only does Fosu-Mensah fit the bill he’s also got the ability to run with the ball, he’s like a slimmer, better version of Anderson with the ball at his feet, one who can play football for more than 17 seconds a week and doesn’t get distracted by the chimes of the ice cream van, or a red light coming on in a nearby flat window.
It may sound foolish to be waxing lyrical about the potential of a teenager to be United’s defensive midfield lynchpin when the handful of first team games we’ve seen him in have mainly been at right back but Fosu-Mensah has played in a midfield role for the academy and it’s obvious his talents are wasted being stuck out at on the right side of defence.
It’s expected that Mourinho will come in and immediately begin signing big money players while United’s youngsters endure a season of League Cup cameos and unwanted loan spells, but that may not necessarily be the case. One of the biggest worries for many Reds and it would seem, certain factions of the Old Trafford hierarchy is that Mourinho wouldn’t be willing to give youth a chance, but this isn’t the Jose of Chelsea. This is the new improved, everything United stand for and want I completely understand Jose Mourinho who’s been well briefed on how the academy at United isn’t just somewhere to keep all the young foreigners in between reserve games.
If Mourinho wants to get the fans on board, save himself around 40 million quid and bring some much needed balance to the force, sorry the midfield then at least giving TFM a chance would be a great start to his reign. Fosu-Mensah doesn’t seem to be the type who needs a few years before he’s ready, he’s not a Lingard type who perhaps needs to come back in his early twenties. The lad’s gifted and if it doesn’t work out for him in midfield immediately, then at the very least he’s got time on his side and experience around him to grow into the role.
Some may think Phil Jones is the answer to United’s midfield problems but then again some people think Elvis lives in a caravan in Dorset. The only player who’s shown the kind of vigour, confidence and talent needed to be a vital cog in United’s midfield is Fosu-Mensah. If Jose wants to prove he’s not just a chequebook manager who treats youngsters like female physios, trusting Timothy in a defensive midfield role could be the start of something truly special.