Rio Ferdinand thinks Kobbie Mainoo’s performance at Everton on Sunday shows he is ready to start ahead of Sofyan Amrabat for Manchester United.
Mainoo starred on his first Premier League start against the Toffees, proving himself to be the midfield player Erik ten Hag has been missing for much of this season.
The 18-year-old got 72 minutes at Goodison Park and Ten Hag will surely be considering starting him at Galatasaray in the Champions League on Wednesday evening.
The performance was arguably better than any of Amrabat’s since he joined the Red Devils on loan on deadline day and former United defender Ferdinand believes Mainoo has done enough to leapfrog the Moroccon in Ten Hag’s midfield pecking order.
“I don’t know how they gave the Man of the Match [award] elsewhere,” Ferdinand said on his podcast.
“18 years old, especially centre midfield, very rarely do you see a composed performance like that.
“Away from home it’s crash, bang, wallop at Everton at Goodison [Park] under the circumstances they went there.
“The way he was dropping in between the centre-backs, not even getting it and bopping it one or two touch, he was getting it, taking touches, drifting by people or away from people, away from the challenge and the press, and then releasing it…
“That’s what these centre-backs and goalkeeper have been waiting for – someone who can alleviate that pressure and beat that press.
“I thought about it the other day, 18-year-olds coming into the first team in the Premier League who gave performances like that… [Cesc] Fabregas? I’m not saying he [Mainoo] is as good as these guys, there have been more explosive but I’m talking about composure.
“This was a crazy performance.”
When asked if Mainoo now starts ahead of Amrabat, Ferdinand replied: “At the moment, yeah.
“Fundamentals, he [Mainoo] does the fundamentals well. But listen, it’s one game, let’s not go too overboard, we need to see this consistently.”
Bruno Fernandes was high in praise of Mainoo after his performance against Everton and he has called on his teammates to “step up” as he did when the Red Devils face Galatasaray in Turkey.
Beyond the difficulties presented by the host team and fans, Ten Hag’s side will also be without the suspended Marcus Rashford and a string of a first-team players on Wednesday.
“The other ones have to step (up),” Fernandes said. “They have to step like Kobbie did.
“Everyone else that gets the chance, they have to make a big step and make a statement to be in the squad.”
Fernandes added: “You know that Galatasaray away is going to be great, is going to be an amazing atmosphere.
“I think, me as a player I love playing (in these) kind of stadiums because it’s a big boost for you.
“I know it’s going to come against you, but it has to be a big boost playing in stadiums with a crowd like that.
“We’re pretty sure that our away fans will really give us something too.”