At the beginning of the season, Manchester United were considered one of the favourites to win the Premier League title with all the high-profile signings. The club brought in big names this summer – Jadon Sancho, Raphael Varane and the biggest of all, Cristiano Ronaldo.
However, United are playing nowhere near their potential, rather it seems that they have slumped into a deep pit and are finding it extremely difficult to crawl back out. In truth, it feels strange and uneasy looking forward to United’s games. The slump has been so hard that the team have collected only one point from a possible 12 in the Premier League.
United’s recent performances have put Ole Gunnar Solskajer under extreme pressure and the 5-0 loss against Liverpool at Old Trafford have burst the patience bubble for fans. The Red Devils are hanging at 7th position on the table with 14 points after 9 games and are 8 points adrift of the top.
There has been so much talk over the managerial position that Ole’s sacking seemed inevitable. Some supporters believe there’s no coming back for the Norwegian even if the team returns home with 3 points from their PL fixture at Tottenham this coming weekend.
Irrespective of Solskjaer’s future, United desperately need the win against Spurs. The problem with Solskjaer this season seems to be his team selection – sticking with underperforming and erroneous players and making ignorant changes in midfield and attacking against different oppositions. This begs the question what is the best starting XI for the team.
Raphael Varane is expected to return for Saturday’s game. Meanwhile, Pogba has been ruled out for the next three games as he was shown a straight red card in the Liverpool game. Taking this into account, let’s find out the best XI Manchester United can put out on the field.
GK: David De Gea
Dean Henderson did take the spot between the sticks many times last campaign, but Ole has put his trust back on David de Gea this season. Barring the last two Premier League games, United had only conceded 7 goals and much of the credit goes to De Gea who put in really good performances. The goals against Leicester and Liverpool were mainly due to defensive errors and not De Gea’s fault. Therefore, I do not see the Spaniard being replaced by any other keeper in this campaign.
LB: Luke Shaw
Despite his errors against Liverpool, Luke Shaw without a doubt has to be the preferred first-choice left-back for the Red Devils. The England international is gifted with pace and precision which has seen him dish out plenty of assists and key passes to his teammates. If the player can rectify his mistakes and manages to stay fit throughout the season, Alex Telles and other players’ only major contribution would be warming up the bench.
CB: Raphael Varane
The former Real Madrid defender made his way to Old Trafford this summer. His injury certainly caused a problem, but he is expected to return against Tottenham. His presence at the back can save the sinking ship and provide the stability and solidarity that United need right now.
CB: Victor Lindelof
Harry Maguire was bought to provide solidarity to the United defence, but it now seems that the Swedish centre-back should be preferred over him and there are plenty of reasons for that conclusion. Lindelof is quicker with his passing, aware of his surroundings and has better technical ability. Moreover, the recent blunders made by Maguire are practically crimes for an £80 million defender. Varane and Lindelof should be forming the defensive partnership at the heart of United’s defence.
RB: Aaron Wan – Bissaka
The 23-year-old full-back has been great most of the time since making the switch to Old Trafford from Crystal Palace. Although AWB lacks attacking prowess, his defensive skills are absolutely top-notch. He has blistering pace, excellent tackling efficiency, sublime dribbling skills, an eye for a pass and is also physically strong and stable. Though he has healthy competition from Diogo Dalot, if I was to pick out United’s best lineup on any day, Wan-Bissaka would be my preferred choice for the right-back role.
CM: Paul Pogba/ Van de Beek
The French International is amongst the big names yet to yield major results for the Red Devils since his arrival at the club, but when he actually turns up for the occasion, only a few players can match his skill and talent. However, until Pogba returns from his suspension, Dutch midfielder Donny van de Beek could shoulder the responsibility quite well. Despite the extremely limited chances, he has shown his capabilities and as a matter of fact, it is perplexing why Fred gets the nod ahead of him every single time.
CM: Scott McTominay (Until A Better Pivot Player Arrives)
Fred should be kept away from the team sheet as we keep fire out of reach for children. Ole needs a single pivot player like Declan Rice to complete his team, but until help arrives, Scott McTominay is the best choice for the role. Moreover, he has proved multiple times why he deserves a first-team place more than Matic, Fred or any other player for the role.
AM: Bruno Fernandes
The Portuguese playmaker should be among the first names on the teamsheet. Bruno Fernandes is the key to all of United’s attacking plays and hands down the most influential player for the team in the last two years. It’s almost impossible for United to line up given his involvement in attacking plays. The Portuguese already has scored 4 goals and 2 assists to his name this season.
LW: Marcus Rashford
Fighting to regain full match fitness, he should the preferred choice for the left-winger role any day of the week. When fit, Ole should look no further than the English forward. Those defence-splitting long balls from Pogba and lunging sprints of Rashford before a calm finish are a sight to behold.
RW: Jadon Sancho
His arrival has assured United of enough firepower on the right-hand side of the attack. Jadon Sancho possesses sublime dribbling skills, his trickery, his pace and the use of feints during one-on-one situations are outstanding, Moreover, playing him on the right-wing brings out his creative best as evident from his time at Dortmund.
ST: Cristiano Ronaldo
Cristiano Ronaldo re-joined Manchester United on deadline day this summer, the homecoming of the Prince. Despite being 36-years of age, he is still a fox in the box. His presence in the dressing room certainly boasts the confidence of young players, bringing the winning mentality.
As per the above starting XI, Manchester United will have a balanced mid-field and attack. Some supporters might oppose the idea of excluding Greenwood from the starting XI as it might hamper his growth. However, the current situation dictates that acquiring points is more important now than a player’s growth.
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