By G9ija…..

If you’d have asked 100 Manchester United supporters what the club’s biggest need was ahead of the most recent transfer window, you could have guaranteed that 99 of them would have given you the same answer.

United’s need to recruit a defensive-midfielder this summer just gone was blindingly obvious as soon as the shutters came down on the summer window last year, such was the need to improve that area of the team. It was a weakness that plagued the club throughout last season, so much so that it became an obvious issue to even those who don’t support or watch United religiously.

The Reds were regularly beaten up and spat back out in midfield, being overrun and destroyed in most games they played, not least against the likes of Liverpool and Manchester City. Therefore, it was somewhat surprising that United spent much of the summer going after Barcelona’s Frenkie de Jong and not a seasoned destroyer who would have added a degree of aggression and nastiness to their play.

A world-class defensive midfielder in the building and an upturn in results, it can’t be a coincidence, surely? Perhaps not if the Brazilian had actually started any of those four matches.

More than a month after swapping Madrid for Manchester, Casemiro is still awaiting his first league start in United colours, with his only chance from the first whistle coming in the Europa League defeat to Real Sociedad earlier this month. That is because his arrival at Old Trafford has sparked a seriously impressive upturn in performance levels from Scott McTominay, who has formed a well-balanced midfield relationship with Christian Eriksen and Bruno Fernandes.

The United academy graduate, so often a scapegoat for United’s recent failings, has looked like a different animal in recent weeks, particularly in the 3-1 win over Arsenal three weeks ago. He has marshalled the midfield well, kept things neat and tidy and played some key passes en route to the ball being put into the back of the opposition net.

It goes without saying that Casemiro’s big-money arrival at Old Trafford has given McTominay the incentive he needed to raise his overall game. He has been one of United’s best players in recent weeks and there is no reason why he should be automatically dislodged from the team just because Casemiro is waiting in the wings. As Ten Hag has proven in recent weeks, although it’s an old-school football cliché, there is no need to fix something that isn’t broken.

McTominay has justified his inclusion in recent weeks and Casemiro will be forced to wait, although there is a general perception that he will, eventually, dislodge the 25-year-old from the team and become part of Ten Hag’s strongest midfield. But if McTominay continues in his current vein of form, the Brazilian could become more familiar with the Old Trafford bench than the pitch.

And it is not only United who have benefitted from McTominay’s recent form; Scotland have, too. The midfielder has starred for his country over this current international break, playing key roles in their back-to-back Nations League wins over Ukraine (3-0) and the Republic of Ireland (2-1).

Against Ireland, McTominay bossed proceedings in midfield, boasting an 89 per cent passing accuracy, winning seven of his 11 ground duels, producing one key pass and covering just about every blade of grass possible. It was, therefore, somewhat unfortunate that he picked up a yellow card late on, ruling him out of Tuesday’s clash with Ukraine.

Despite that hammer blow, the international break has been one of encouragement for him. He is playing with a smile again and Ten Hag deserves enormous credit for changing the general opinion on the midfielder’s importance.