January 24, 2020
Manchester United will travel to Prenton Park to face Tranmere Rovers in the fourth round of the Emirates FA Cup on Sunday afternoon. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side will be seeking to come back from back-to-back defeats to Liverpool and Burnley (both 2-0 scorelines) to get back to winning ways. It seems to be one step forward and two steps back for United this season, which is not great for the first season of the major rebuild Solskjaer is trying to do.
United need to get something sorted in order to move forward. This month, which is an important month for the rebuilding of the squad seems to have seen United linked to many players with little happening. The main talking point is the fact that Ed Woodward seems to have hired public relations to better his image, taking the blame off himself with suggestions that he’s seen the Glazers stop him from signing players, which seems unbelievable. This seems to be going from bad to worse, proving the Glazers are the leeches sucking the life, money and history from this once great club.
Here is my predicted starting XI to face Tranmere Rovers in the Emirates FA Cup fourth round at Prenton Park on Sunday afternoon…
Goalkeeper: Sergio Romero
The Argentinian is expected to take over from David De Gea as he has in most of the cup matches so far this season. In the eight appearances he’s had for the club this season he has kept seven clean sheets – two more than De Gea has kept this season. Romero is a decent goalkeeper and probably the best number two goalkeeper in the Premier League. United are lucky to have him and the fact that he is not creating much pressure to become the number one goalkeeper at the Old Trafford club. United could find themselves in a predicament with goalkeepers in the summer with De Gea, Romero and Dean Henderson at the club with the English goalkeeper setting his sights on De Gea’s number one shirt after his top performances this season whilst on loan at Sheffield United.
Defenders: Diogo Dalot, Victor Lindelof, Eric Bailly, Brandon Williams
Solskjaer needs to find a way of getting the best out of the defence this season. Spending more than £130 million in the summer does not seem to have done much for the squad. The season started off well but soon the goals were being leaked left, right, and centre. Aaron Wan-Bissaka probably needs a rest despite being the best defensive player on the pitch against Burnley and also being the player trying to create by going forward, despite it not being his strong point. Harry Maguire has not been the best recently either and has made mistakes. A strong midfield ahead of the defence would make it better but the club does not seem to be doing much to get things moving in signing players this month. Diogo Dalot could come in for Wan-Bissaka, although I fully expect him to start on Sunday. Victor Lindelof could be back after illness stopped him playing against Burnley and Eric Bailly could make his first start of the season. Brandon Williams should keep his place at left-back – as far as I am concerned, there is no competition for him in this position.
Midfield: Fred, Nemanja Matic, Juan Mata
The midfield needs new additions. Paul Pogba and Scott McTominay have missed the last eight matches due to injury, something which is really causing problems in this area. There is little creativity in the midfield which is affecting the number of goals the forward players can score. Many of the players that could play in these positions do not have the quality to play for the club. Andreas Pereira, Jesse Lingard, Angel Gomes and Tahith Chong have all been pretty poor this season. It would, right now, leave Fred, who has played the last ten matches in a row, playing 90 minutes nine times and coming off the bench once and Nemanja Matic, who has played the last eight matches in a row, starting in seven and playing 90 minutes six times, to operate in the central midfield positions. Juan Mata is the attacking midfield player in the best form so far this season, playing in the last four matches in a row, scoring one goal and assisting two more. Mata may be considered a veteran of the game but his footballing brain is one of United’s best attributes right now – that is how far the club has fallen in the past seven years.
Forwards: Mason Greenwood, Anthony Martial, Daniel James
United desperately need reinforcement in the attack after Marcus Rashford was riled out for the foreseeable future. Even with him in the squad, United lack at least one attacking player. However, with a week to go before the transfer window closes, nothing legitimate seems to be happening. Over the last few matches, Anthony Martial has not been playing like a striker, as he’s not a striker. He played better outside of the box, primarily on the left-wing where he’s played much of his football for the club. Mason Greenwood should start in this game, it is possible that he could get something from the game, although that is not guaranteed, even though he has scored nine goals this season. Daniel James should really be rested but there is nothing there to replace him with. He’s getting criticised for all sorts of things but he should not have played this much football in his first season but with a lack of summer signings to strengthen the squad, nothing could be done to get United ready for the season. Something is majorly wrong at Manchester United.
Substitutes: Lee Grant; Phil Jones, Tim Fosu-Mensah; Jesse Lingard, Andreas Pereira, Angel Gomes, Tahith Chong
The bench is an area that should be stocked with players who have something to offer as impact players late in the game. However, that is not the case at this moment in time. There are too many players who do not offer much to the team taking their places on the bench, offering next to nothing if they are brought into the fold. Lee Grant will most likely be the substitute goalkeeper for this match with De Gea rested for the game against Manchester City next week, Phil Jones and Tim Fosu-Mensah could be the defensive-minded players on the bench – Jones did well against Burley despite playing few minutes this season. Jesse Lingard, Andreas Pereira, Angel Gomes and Tahith Chong could be the attack-minded players from the bench, however, all of them have produced little this season, which is worrying.