What is Manchester United's Best Lineup Ahead of Their FA Cup and Europa League Chase?

Solskjaer beginning to form his own side

It has been a season of inconsistency at Old Trafford as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is close to completing his first full season in the job.

The disappointing form came in the autumn when the Red Devils went on a run of just one win from a run of six matches with the one win coming after they needed penalties to beat Rochdale in the third round of the Carabao Cup. Many fans were calling for a change of management. However, Chief Executive, Ed Woodward persevered with the United legend. The form picked up but, at Christmas, United were still way off the pace in eighth place after 18 games and level on points with Newcastle.

Fast forward to today and United are in the mix for challenging for Champions League qualification. The year 2020 has been kind to them and have not lost a game following their 2-0 home defeat to Burnley in January, unbeaten in the last 13 matches in all competitions. It now appears that Solskjaer has found the formula and has a firm idea of what his best starting XI is.

Defence still needs work and plenty of time

RB: Aaron Wan-Bissaka

A young and rapid full back, Aaron Wan-Bissaka was signed for £50million from Crystal Palace last year after he impressed in his first season of regular first team football at Selhurst Park in the 2018/19 season.

The defender has settled in well at Old Trafford and has never looked out of place in a United shirt. In this campaign, he has proved that he is good enough for the highest level so he has made the right back position his own as he will look ahead to cementing his place in the team in the years to come.

CB: Eric Bailly

This is a tough one. I was sure that Harry Maguire would make up half of the partnership in central defence, it was just a case of who would accompany him. I have chosen Eric Bailly ahead of Swedish international, Victor Lindelof.
One of Bailly's biggest flaws in his game is that he is very injury prone hence he misses out on game time during a season and this campaign has been no exception. However, every time I see Lindelof and I am never convinced by his defensive ability where as Bailly, whenever he does play, orchestrates a good defensive back line.

CB: Harry Maguire

The world's most expensive defender after making the move from Leicester for around £80million, in the deepest of ironies, it appears that Maguire will be finishing below his previous employers this season.
It might have taken a little bit of time for the England international to settle in and prove his ability on a big stage considering the pressure of the price tag. However, the defender seems to have found his feet and has managed to prove the doubters wrong with solid performances in the midst of this excellent run of form that the Red Devils are enjoying at the moment.

LB: Luke Shaw

A player that seemed to lose a lot of confidence under the regime of the previous manager, Jose Mourinho, Luke Shaw appears much more in his element as a player under Solskjaer.

One thing that Shaw will have to keep his eye on is the resurgence of positional rival, Brandon Williams as the youngster has been given a sizeable amount of first team experience this season.
Although Williams has a couple of years at least before he has a shout of competing to be one of the first names on the team sheet, Shaw has to be mindful and be motivated by the healthy competition he has had this season.

The midfield has the potential for greatness

CDM: Fred

Whilst McTominay is deserving of a permanent spot for a variety of reasons, Fred's form in 2020 can't be overlooked right now and gets him in the midfield. A player that failed to give me a good impression under the management of Mourinho last season. However, the Brazilian international has been much better this time around and is starting to show that his £52m move from Shakhtar Donetsk was good value for money.

The 27-year-old has been an excellent asset to the team this season and one talent that he does have on the pitch is his ability to turn defence into in the blink of an eye; something his two tricky midfield colleagues can't do, making him vital to United's lineup.

CM: Bruno Fernandes

Another new signing at Old Trafford and the Portuguese international, signed from Sporting Lisbon has given a very good first impression of himself to the fans.
Despite only 11 appearances for the club so far, he has managed to score four goals and also become the main penalty taker in the absence of Marcus Rashford. It might be early days in his United career thus far but fans will be looking forward to the contributions he can make in the future as he could well become a key player for the club next season.

CM: Paul Pogba

Pogba, at times, has come across like he is more interested in social media and dabbing than trying to help his team to victory. Although he rarely plays as an attacking midfielder, his best performances at the club have come when he has had the freedom to roam freely as an attacking threat from midfield.

The Frenchman may be more accomplished in the role of defensive midfield but that would mean, in this team, McTominay and/or Fred would have to be sacrificed and I think that move would reduce the quality of the team. The World Cup winner has been absent for much of this season and the match against Tottenham was his first game of the calendar year after being absent from a foot injury.

Pogba has shown that he does have quality, he just needs to get rid of the inconsistency. Because of that flaw, the club might deem it worth it to sell him in the summer, pick up a sizeable cheque and try and bring in someone like the young superstar, Donny van de Beek from Ajax.

Young Attacking Lineup edging towards the elite

LW: Marcus Rashford

A hero off the pitch and, oftentimes, a hero on it. Rashford has proven in the four years since he burst onto the scene at Old Trafford in 2016 that he is a clinical goalscorer and has bagged an impressive 19 goals from 33 matches this season.

Better still, Rashford is still at the young age of 22, an important age in a player's career where they tend to showcase much improvement to their game compared to previous years. Compared to his time playing under, Mourinho, the England international has seemed much happier under Solskjaer's leadership and has found his touch again under the Norwegian manager.

Rashford is a versatile player and has shown that he can play on either wing or upfront. For a winger, his crossing requires some improvement but he possesses great pace and, when playing on the left wing in the past, he does a good job when he is able to cut inside onto his stronger right foot.

ST: Anthony Martial

Similar to Rashford, Martial is also a versatile player that is a natural upfront or on the left wing.
In United's last match against Sheffield United, he bagged himself an excellent hat-trick. Following the departures of Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez (on loan), Martial has been making the most of the opportunities presented to him now that some of the competition for his place in the team have moved away.

Another big factor in Martial's recent success is the January signing of Bruno Fernandes. The two players have been on the same wavelength and the great chemistry between them seems to be paying dividends as Martial has now scored six goals in Fernandes' seven league appearances for the club.

RW: Mason Greenwood

Mason Greenwood has become one of the brightest young talents in world football and, in truth, perhaps it's only Erling Haaland of Borussia Dortmund that surpasses him as the best goalscoring teenager around.

After 14 goals in his breakout season, Greenwood has put himself ahead of Daniel James and Juan Mata on United's right wing. Those who will know of his ridiculous record - where he netted 34 goals from 34 U18 games - understand that this is no surprise.

The Englishman is still 18 until October and will no doubt be an elite goalscorer for United for years, perhaps a decade, to come. Greenwood's only concern will be if United target another right winger in the next window, such as Jadon Sancho. In truth, this wouldn't affect the youth star drastically, in the sense he can play anywhere on the front line and is clearly the main man moving forward, alongside Rashford.

It can be argued that Solskjaer doesn't need to sign Sancho with Greenwood already making this position his own. However, the Norwegian seems stuck on playing him as a centre forward, rather than a winger.

By Rob Spereall


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