Manchester United had a fairly successful pre-season culminating in a disappointing loss to PSG.
It offered Louis van Gaal a chance to experiment with a new set up along with new personnel. But in a few days time, the real business begins.
United face a tough Tottenham Hotspur side for their opening English Premier League fixture and decisions have to be made.
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Here we will pick Manchester United’s best starting side for this vital fixture.
Louis van Gaal has already declared his side will set up in a 4-3-3 formation so here's my opinion on the best 11:
Goalkeeper: David de Gea
The saga over David de Gea has formed a cloud of uncertainty over who Van Gaal’s number one will be. As of now, the Spanish shot stopper has not departed so we will count him as part of the squad.
De Gea is head and shoulders above any of the competition he will face at Old Trafford. His superior reflexes, coupled with his composure and skill with his feet, make him one of the best keepers in the world and an obvious choice in between the sticks for United.
Right Back: Matteo Darmian
The signing of Matteo Darmian was supposed to spell the end of Antonio Valencia’s shift at the back. Ironically, Van Gaal has proclaimed Darmian to be the Ecuador international’s understudy. This might not be the correct decision given the fact that Valencia is not a defender by trade. Darmian, unlike United’s other right backs, is more methodical in his approach.
Rather than make rampaging runs down the sidelines, the Italian carries the ball forward at the right times and picks out meaningful passes to keep possession flowing. It doesn't hurt either that Van Gaal confirmed Darmian to start against Tottenham.
Centre Back: Chris Smalling
Chris Smalling recovered from a disastrous start last season to perform admirably in the latter stages. His aerial presence is a valuable asset when defending balls in the air. The Englishman possesses highly underestimated pace, and is also comfortable on the ball making him Van Gaal’s best option in the centre of defence.
Centre Back: Phil Jones
With Marcos Rojo’s passport issues, the next in line may have to be Phil Jones. Jones may be erratic in his performances, but one thing that cannot be doubted is his heart. The England international gives it his all in every match and a testament to this was his treacherous headed tackle last season. Still, a new signing is needed.
Left Back: Luke Shaw
A series of injuries interrupted Luke Shaw’s debut season, but with a full pre-season behind him, now is the time for the defender to come to the fore. Shaw’s change of pace along with his technical ability make him a top notch option going forward. The youngster’s additional assuredness in defence makes him the best choice for the left back role.
Holding Midfielder: Michael Carrick
Simply put, Manchester United cannot function without Michael Carrick. He is the fulcrum at which all attacks are started or created and is also an intelligent defender. That might mean leaving new signing Morgan Schneiderlin out of the side, but such a sacrifice is needed when you are dealing with a player of Carrick’s class.
Central Midfielder: Ander Herrera
In light of the numerous new midfield signings, Ander Herrera’s role in the squad has come into question. Nonetheless, Herrera, like Carrick, is vital to United’s success. His tendency to come short for the ball, always provides players with an option to pass to which keeps possession flowing. The Spaniard’s precision passing ability, coupled with his eye for goal, keeps United on top of proceedings.
Central Midfielder: Bastian Schweinsteiger
Of all the new signings, Bastian Schweinsteiger is perhaps the most accomplished. Schweinsteiger is an immaculate passer of the ball, as seen in his pre-season tour with the Reds. His countless honours in Germany make him a top class leader and one Manchester United have been crying out for. An absolutely wonderful signing.
Right Midfield: Juan Mata
Juan Mata proved his ability to play on the right hand side of midfield last season. His tendency to drift inside allows United to have, essentially a fourth midfielder, thus allowing them to dominate the midfield. Mata’s ingenuity and skill on the ball will always create a chance or score a goal.
Left Midfield: Memphis Depay
New signing Memphis Depay was deployed in behind Wayne Rooney during preseason. However, his best position is undoubtedly out wide. Depay’s electric pace and skill allows him to cut inside and combine with his teammates. The Dutch winger also has a keen eye for goal demonstrated by his 26 goals last season.
Center Forward: Wayne Rooney
In Wayne Rooney, Manchester United have a player capable of scoring over twenty goals a season. Throughout his career, the Englishman has been shunted around different positions by various managers. The two seasons in which he played exclusively up top yielded thirty plus goals each. Rooney will be the main man at Old Trafford again and Manchester United’s success will depend on him.
Is this the strongest line-up? What would you change? Have your say below!