Saturday 22 September 2018

Is this how Manchester United will line up this season? How Pogba, Fred and Martial fit into the same side

Paul Pogba
Paul Pogba

Jack de Menezes

Manchester United may have disappointed their fans in the transfer window, but they still have a remarkably strong squad for Jose Mourinho to select from and when whittled down to the starting XI, have one of the most impressive line-ups in the Premier League.

In fact, United have an attacking force to die for. From Alexis Sanchez to Romelu Lukaku and the young rising talents of Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial, they have just about everything you could demand from a front line.

Their midfield is hardly a problem area either, with Paul Pogba and new addition Fred available to Mourinho and the likes of Ander Herrera and Marouane Fellaini in reserve.

But it's at the back where Mourinho has been most concerned during the summer, and having failed to bring in any of his top transfer targets, United go into the new season looking relatively similar to how they ended up.

With that in mind, and the summer transfers taken into account, how will United line up this season? Have a look at their strongest XI in the gallery below.

United kick-off the season on Friday night as they take on Leicester City at Old Trafford.

Goalkeeper: David De Gea

The undisputed No 1 at Old Trafford, and also had claims last season to being the best goalkeeper in the world. Will want to put a difficult World Cup campaign in which he made a high-profile blunder against Portugal and made just one save in four matches, but his talent is unquestioned and Sergio Romero and Lee Grant have little-to-no chance of ousting him.

Right-back: Antonio Valencia

United signed Diogo Dalot in the summer with a long-term view to this position, but the simple matter is that Valencia is trusted by Mourinho and once he returns to full fitness, he's likely to make a return to the first-team.

Centre-back: Phil Jones

Very much United's problem position at the moment. United conceded just 28 goals last season – one more than Manchester City – but Jones was found out once again when he came up against Eden Hazard in the FA Cup final and if United are to be serious about winning trophies, they need to find a long-term solution.

Centre-back: Eric Bailly

United's most dependable centre-back when fit, but his injury problems have caused concern for Mourinho during his two years at Old Trafford. The Ivory Coast international is still relatively young at 24, but while he is unlikely to be replaced he is having to cope with an enormous level of pressure for his age.

P5.martial3.jpg
Tottenham's Dele Alli battles for the ball with Manchester United's Eric Bailly. Photo: Andrew Yates/Reuters

Left-back: Ashley Young

It's hard to see how Luke Shaw is going to permanently oust Young, or prove to Mourinho that he does have a long-term future at the club. Young's late return after World Cup duty might just offer a glimmer of hope, but expect Young to be back in the first team before too long.

Midfield: Fred

The star summer signing that, it's hoped, will solve United's midfield problems and finally free up Paul Pogba to be the player we all know he can be. At £52m, Fred comes with a big risk if the move doesn't work out, but early signs from pre-season suggest that he's finding his feet quickly at Old Trafford.

Midfield: Paul Pogba

What will happen with Pogba this season? The £89m man could yet prove to be the world beater that he was billed to be, but the question of whether Mourinho is stunting his growth needs to be answered in the near-future. Talk of a possible exit in the summer was never a realistic option, but it should nonetheless be alarming enough to show United that they need to find a way for the star player and manager to get on, or decide which one to get rid of.

Attacking midfielder: Jesse Lingard

One of the players who last season put his foot forward and proved a point to Mourinho, earning himself a place in his starting XI in the process. Lingard has also become an important part of the England set-up, and it could be another year to remember for the fan favourite.

Attacking midfielder (right): Alexis Sanchez

Almost the forgotten man at United given the fuss around Pogba and Romelu Lukaku, but Sanchez is probably United's biggest match-winner if he can finally get up and running at Old Trafford. Last season was a disruptive one for the Chilean, having nearly joined Manchester City before eventually going to United in January, but now it's time for him to deliver the goods.

Attacking midfielder (left): Anthony Martial

Mourinho may favour Marcus Rashford, but Martial has more match-winning moments in his locker and it would be good to see what he can produce with a solid run of appearances under his belt. This definitely feels like a make-or-break season for Martial if he is to forge a career with United.

Striker: Romelu Lukaku

The Belgian is key to United's hopes of success this season – and many seasons down the line – and after a strong start to his United career last season, hopefully he can really kick on and produce the type of form that will put him up with the Harry Kanes and Mohamed Salahs of the league.

Independent News Service

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