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Manchester United: Charlie Nicholas critical of Fred and Scott McTominay’s passing ability

Manchester United: Charlie Nicholas critical of Fred and Scott McTominay’s passing ability

Sky Sports pundit Charlie Nicholas has been critical of Manchester United midfield duo Fred and Scott McTominay in his preview of the team’s Europa League clash against Partizan Belgrade this evening.

Ahead of the match in Serbia, Nicholas expressed concerns over the pair’s ability to pass the ball and retain possession, adding that he expects an “awkward night” for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s team and believes that the spoils will be shared in Belgrade.

In previewing the game for Sky Sports, the former Scotland striker said: “Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will want to go to a back four, but their midfield cannot keep the ball. Scott McTominay and Fred are grafting but they cannot pass the ball.

“It is another awkward night for Manchester United, but 1-1 would be a decent result for them and that is saying something.”

When analysing the passing statistics of Fred and McTominay so far this season, perhaps Nicholas is being harsh on the two Manchester United midfielders.

Fred has the fourth-highest passing success rate of United’s squad across their Premier League games in 2019/20, completing 87.2% of his passes in the division. Jesse Lingard, who is the squad’s best performer for that metric, has an 89% completion rate. [via WhoScored]

The Brazilian posted a 91.3% accuracy rate against Liverpool on Sunday, albeit from a paltry total of 23 passes, but in the game at Newcastle earlier this month he completed 88.4% of his 95 passes on an afternoon when only Harry Maguire had a higher number of successful passes.

In the Europa League, his pass completion rate jumps to 91% from 211 passes in total, 137 of those coming against Astana last month when he was by far the most regular distributor of the ball.

McTominay’s Premier League passing completion rate is a comparatively modest 79.8%, although he has averaged far more passes per game in the division (50.7) than Fred. [via WhoScored]

Only four United players have averaged more passes per game in the league than the 22-year-old Scot, who admittedly had a disappointing day possession-wise against Liverpool, with just 23 completed passes out of 36 (63.9% accuracy rate).

The two midfielders could contribute much more from an attacking sense – Fred has had only one goal and two assists in 33 Red Devils appearances, while McTominay has three goals and an assist in 57 first-team games.

However, when looking at their distribution statistics for the season thus far, Nicholas is being a tad disingenuous in saying that the Manchester United duo “cannot pass the ball”.

Manchester United fans, do you think Nicholas is being harsh on Fred and McTominay or is his assessment a fair one? Comment below with your views!

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