If anybody needed a reminder of Manchester United’s need for midfielders, today’s game against Aston Villa will serve the purpose.
Meanwhile, Fred struggled to make himself available for passes from United’s central defensive pairing as he was often caught behind Villa’s three narrow attackers.
That forced the Red Devils to rely on their fullbacks to progress the ball, with only Bruno Fernandes able to contribute from midfield in an attacking sense.
It was a strategy that did lead to two well-worked goals, even if the second had more than a little fortune in ending up in the back of the net.
However, Erik ten Hag has spoken often about the importance of having “multiple weapons” on the pitch, with an emphasis on maintaining an air of unpredictability in attack.
That was noticeably absent in today.
The new boss was seemingly forced to moved from his favoured 4-2-3-1 to a 4-3-3 by Scott McTominay’s injury troubles.
And that switch caused problems in building up from the back and limited the Red Devils’ efficiency when pressing.
But perhaps the most damning evidence of United need to reinforce their midfield came in the second half.
While James Garner was a welcome return after his injury, he could do little to stop Aston Villa taking charge of the ball in the second half.
And it would be unfair to lay much blame at his door, with an unlikely midfield configuration baffling supporters.
He had a fairly familiar performance in the unfamiliar role, as Villa were relentless in pushing for an equaliser, which they eventually found with the last touch of the ball.
While Charlie Savage and Zidane Iqbal have enjoyed a successful preseason thus far, should they be deemed unready for Premier League football this season as expected, United just don’t have the numbers in midfield before any discussions over quality can even take place.
Perhaps Frenkie de Jong can expect a basket of muffins in the next couple of days?