This is an article that was published on Manchester United Supporter Club Malta’s quarterly magazine; The Echoes.
Now that the season has started and United have started of very well, we can can have a look at the many formations that we tried out during pre-season. If anything the first few matches taught us that Mourinho already knows his best team this year. Something that he didn’t have last year! In my opinion here’s how we’ll line up in games more often than not this year.
Goalkeeper: David De Gea
David De Gea is arguably the greatest goalkeeper in the world at the moment. No one is taking his position away from him. The goalkeeper has been rumored with a move away to Real Madrid but once again United held onto their prized asset. De Gea seems hungry to win the league!
Right Back: Antonio Valencia
Mourinho admired Valencia this season and hailed him as “the best right-back in the world”. With Matteo Darmian not knowing where his best position is, the Ecuadorian defender has even less competition at the right-back position. Look for Valencia to take hold of the right-back position from day one. Honourable mention to Ashley Young, that kid can certainly put a shift or two every now and again.
Center Back: Eric Bailly
Jose Mourinho’s first signing proved to be a worthy one. The Ivorian was a brute in the back and nobody outmuscled the big center back. He had a slight battle with injuries but overall, Bailly was the best defender for United last season.
Center Back: Phil Jones
Jones has been with United for a few years however he has always had a start/stop type of campaign. If he manages to remain fit, there’s little doubting that Jones can turn out to be a top, top player.
Left Back: Daley Blind
Matteo Darmian is consistant, however he lacks the technical ability that Blind have and that leaves a gap for Daley Blind to come in. Jose Mourinho isn’t Luke Shaw’s biggest fan, so the manager may look to the Dutchman for his reliability.
Central Midfielder: Nemanja Matic
From the very first game he played in United’s red, Matic looked like he belonged in this team all along. His consistency, his passing, his vision. These are all skills that sets him apart form his opponents. He’s a top midfielder and as Mourinho said, he’s a Mourinho player.
Central Midfielder: Paul Pogba
The most expensive player in the world (until PSG beat it twice over) did not live up to his fee last season and will look to show off his world class abilities this season. The Frenchman has already started off on a flyer and is one of the best midfielders in the world and will get a chance to showcase it throughout the season.
Left Wing: Marcus Rashford
The young Three Lions star took over for Zlatan Ibrahimovic at the center forward position when he went down with an injury last season. He filled that role quite well but may be forced to play out wide if he is to cement a starting role at United. I’m sure he wouldn’t worry to much since he’s very well skilled at cutting in from the left all the time.
Right Wing: Henrikh Mkhitaryan
Henrikh Mkhitaryan The Armenian winger had a slow start to life at United but really came into form as the season went on. Mkhitaryan flourished in the Europa League last campaign and will have to bring that form into the Premier League this season. In the first few games he certainly did that already! Mourinho is a fan of his and the winger will have to produce on the goal front to keep the manager’s faith.
Attacking Midfielder: Juan Mata
Mata is always the least celebrated player among United’s stars. He’s consistent and always deliver an excellent shift. He has a keen eye for goal and will definitely try and chip in with at least 10 goals this year. With Marcus and Henrikh on each side Mata will definitely flourish a bit more this year.
Forward: Romelu Lukaku
Big Romelu will definitely be the main man this year at Old Trafford. Purchased for over 90 million he will have to prove himself to be a top finisher across all the major competitions. This season so far he managed to start off very decently and has already started to pay back part of the sum. Watch out from some constant finishing from Lukaku!
Others that will be very important throughout the year;
The season is long and injuries are investable. He’s a list of players that will definitely play a central role across all major competitions:
Michael Carrick – The captain will definitely play a smaller part this year, but I’m sure that when he’s called upon to do a job, he will be consistent and he will perform well.
Mouranne Fellaini – Mourinho loves Fellaini. His passion and his commitment are commendable and the unsung hero can give you plan Z when you really need a goal. I’m sure we’ll see him quite often.
Anthony Martial – It was a close call between him and Rashford, however I’m sure we’ll see Martial as often as we’ll see Rashford this year. They will end up sharing the games between them.
Ander Herrera – Arguably the best player last season. Herrera will find it more difficult to get games this year however he will definitely play. They will be games when we need a more solid midfield and he will play instead of Mata so that Herrera and Matic can guard the midfield while Pogba does the damage. Other games Herrera will play instead of any of the midfielders to give others a bit of a rest. Herrera can also be that midfielder that comes on at 2-0 to kill off the game and strengthen the midfield.
Victor Lindelof – The new signing will take some getting used to, however he will come good very shortly. Mourinho treated Mkhitaryan this way this year however after a while he came through and flourished. I’m sure that Lindelof will be just the same!
Zlatan Ibrahimovic – The big man is back at United. This time wearing Rooney’s vacated number 10. Zlatan is a beast and no matter what, he will return in full fitness and strength very soon and he will give Lukaku a run for his money. Expect Zlatan to be our best new player from January onwards.