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EFL Championship 2021/22: Is James Garner ready for a Manchester United?

Manchester United’s James Garner has been a hot topic over the last few weeks for his performances in central midfield. However, Garner’s performances have come for Nottingham Forest and not Manchester United. When United are in a desperate need for a midfielder, Manchester United’s academy graduate, is on loan at Nottingham Forest for the second season in a row.

The following visualisation shows where James Garner ranks for some of the key metrics this season when compared with fellow central and defensive midfielders. Players who played at least 500 minutes were considered for this analysis.

James Garner has predominantly played as a defensive midfielder in a 4-2-3-1 for Forest. He has at times also played in an advanced midfielder role. As seen in the visual, Garner has a good eye for a pass and creates chances quite frequently for his teammates as indicated by his percentile rank for Key Passes per 90 minutes and Expected Assists (xA) per 90 minutes. He ranks above average for Interceptions per 90 minutes, laying in the 68th percentile. This can only mean that Garner is always aware and is good positionally to intercept passes. The current midfielders at United have been widely criticised for their progressive passing. If the data is to be believed, Garner seems to rank below average for the same metric. However his good to decent defensive numbers, as indicated by his percentile ranks for Successful Defensive Actions, mean that he deserves a chance at the top level. He also has an eye for a goal and quite frequently loves to get in advanced positions as indicated by his percentile ranks for the attacking metrics.

If Garner could solve United’s problems in midfield is altogether a different question, which can be answered come the summer. But, a second successive spell at Nottingham Forest means he is impressing figure heads at the Championship club. Only a few other players have played more minutes at Forest than Garner. James Garner has stayed consistent and has recently upped his game too. It will be interesting to see what Manchester United decide to do with him for next season, but he surely, finally, deserves to be involved in the set-up of his parent club.