Premier League

James Garner’s the cure to Man Utd’s midfield ills… his Forest form is proof

James Garner's the cure to Man Utd's midfield ills... his Forest form is proof

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last few years, you’ll know all about Manchester United’s well-documented midfield problems.

The days of Bryan Robson, Paul Ince, Roy Keane and Paul Scholes dominating the centre of the park are a distant memory for United fans.

Since Scholes decided to hang up his boots for the second time in 2013, United have spent hundreds of millions on a variety of different midfielders.

But the likes of Marouane Fellaini, Ander Herrera, Morgan Schneiderlin, Nemanja Matic, Paul Pogba and Bastian Schweinsteiger have all failed to fill the boots of their predecessors.

Fortunately for United, and incoming manager Erik ten Hag, the solution to their midfield problem could be right under their noses.

James Garner came through the academy and made his Premier League debut at the age of 17 in February 2019, coming off the bench in the closing stages of a 3-1 win over Crystal Palace.

“I believe he’s got the chance to have a great future,” Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said after the game. “He knows we believe in him, we’ve got great faith in him as the next Michael Carrick.

“I know he’s young and I know it’s not fair on kids to compare to great players like Michael was, but he’s the same mould, he plays simple passes, plays through the lines.”

But three years on and United still have a Carrick-shaped hole in midfield. 

Garner made just one Premier League appearance over the following 18 months before dropping down to the Championship to join Watford on loan.

While the midfielder struggled to make an impact at Vicarage Road, a mid-season switch to Nottingham Forest proved to be the perfect move.

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READ: Nine loan players who could star in the Premier League next season

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He registered four goals in 20 appearances in the second half of 2020-21 before deciding to return to Forest on a season-long loan deal.

Garner initially struggled to recapture the impressive form from his first…

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