It is safe to say that Manchester United aren't exactly having a vintage season under Davids Moyes and there have been many theories as to why that is so, other than simply saying the former Everton boss is not Sir Alex Ferguson. One idea is that the lack of a settled starting XI could be to blame.
Injuries are always a problem for any Premier League manager and Moyes has had is fair share at Old Trafford, but there is the sense that he is not sure about what his best team is once he has all his stars fit. Well, what is Manchester United's best starting XI? Below is an analysis of where the problems lie and the possible solutions:
After doubt, in previous seasons, over whether David de Gea could perform in the big games, he has virtually guaranteed a starting spot as Manchester United’s number one for many years to come. He has been United’s most regular player this season; playing every minute of the Premier League so far in 2013/2014.
The centre of defence is where most top teams nail down a solid partnership for a long period of time. For example, Arsenal’s Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker have arguably been two of the best central defenders this season. Manchester United have not done this.
Phil Jones, Chris Smalling, Jonny Evans, Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic have all had runs lasting at least five games on the bounce this season. With Vidic departing for Inter Milan on a free contract come the summer and Ferdinand not getting any younger, David Moyes should put his trust in Phil Jones (age 22) and Chris Smalling (age 24). These two playing consistently means they will both gain vital experience of Premier League football, week in, week out.
With Patrice Evra playing a part in all but one of Manchester United’s Premier League games, he is incontestably part of their strongest team. However, there have been rumours linking him to a move away from Old Trafford, such as to Inter Milan, where he could join Nemanja Vidic. Evra has arguably been one of the best left-backs in the world of his generation, but players such as Luke Shaw and Fabio Coentrao have been linked to a potential move to Old Trafford.
Right-back Rafael has only played six full games in the Premier League this season. Up to this stage, he has played around half of the minutes he played last season. Regular injuries haven’t helped his playing time, but remains Manchester United’s best in this position. Phil Jones and Chris Smalling have both been pushed out to right-back, showing United need to strengthen in that particular position.
Twelve different midfield players have all taken part in the Manchester United team this season. The ever-reliable Michael Carrick has played the most minutes in the team and remains Manchester United’s best and most consistent central-defensive midfielder. Nevertheless, it’s Carrick’s partner in this position where Manchester United lack consistency; Tom Cleverley, Marouane Fellaini, Ryan Giggs and Darren Fletcher have all occupied this spot, but United clearly need to reinforce this particular position come next season.
It is thought that David Moyes is interested in Ilkay Gundogan and William Carvalho, who can both execute their talent in this position perfectly. However, United still need to see the season out and the best man to do this in central midfield is Marouane Fellaini. His powerful stature brings about an ideal partnership with Michael Carrick; as Fellaini can attack, entering the box, while Carrick has adapted into a sitting midfielder, winning the tackles and loose balls, allowing his team to attack.
With Adnan Januzaj, Juan Mata, Antonio Valencia, Shinji Kagawa, Ashley Young and Nani all being used out wide for Manchester United this season, they are certainly not weak in the attacking midfield area.
However, it’s a familiar story as many of these players have been rumoured to be leaving. This will give the opportunity for David Moyes to bring in more attacking flair in the summer, being linked towards names such as Toni Kroos, who has put in some spectacular performances for Bayern Munich this season.
The arrival of Spanish star Juan Mata has added extra exuberance to their attack. Young-star Adnan Januzaj has also provided a creative mind this season, and has been important to the Red Devils this season, supplying both goals and assists. These two are unquestionably United’s best in this position.
There has been a lot of talk about the attacking quartet of Juan Mata, Adnan Januzaj, Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie. These four should be leading the line for the Red Devils as you can almost guarantee goals to be scored.
Van Persie has come out this week and denied any rumours of him not being happy at United, showing his willingness in his team. He has obviously not seen the goal-scoring form that he had last season recently, but remains one of the deadliest strikers in the league when on-form.
Danny Welbeck provides a resourceful back-up for the forward position; scoring nine goals in the 18 Premier League games he has participated in; eight goals better than he managed in the whole of last season.
On other hand, it’s becoming increasingly likely that Mexican Javier Hernandez will depart at the end of the season.
Best line-up: De Gea; Rafael, Jones, Smalling, Evra; Carrick, Fellaini; Mata, Rooney, Januzaj; Van Persie.
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