Manchester United: How club could line-up if Mauricio Pochettino joins mid-season

Poch OGS

Mauricio Pochettino's figure should loom large over an empty Old Trafford. 

One of the biggest managerial names currently out of work, the Argentine has been linked with the Manchester United post after an awful start to the season for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. 

Clearly, the set-up behind the scenes at the Theatre of Dreams is one of the biggest aspects of the club to come under heavy criticism, so a change in manager may not instantly turn fortunes around but, given his CV, it's hard to ignore him much longer. 

After all, this is a man to have developed an exciting brand of football based on many of the traditions United traditionally pride themselves on - relentlessly attacking and trusting youth players. 

Touted with a move mid-season, now feels a relevant time for Give Me Sport to predict how United may line up should Pochettino arrive mid-season. 

GK: Dean Henderson 

Manchester United's Dean Henderson

Clearly, Dean Henderson is unproven at the truly elite level United are aiming for considering he has made precisely 406 fewer appearances for the club than David De Gea. 

Still, Pochettino has previously proven willing and able to move big names out of the side in order to grow (think of Emmanuel Adebayor for Harry Kane) so the idea of him finally being the one to try Henderson out would seem to fit. 

Building for the future, Henderson would surely get a chance under Pochettino.

RCB: Eric Bailly 

Manchester United's Eric Bailly

United, clearly, aren't blessed with many dominant central defenders. So, perhaps the natural way to combat that (as we've seen Pochettino do before) is to revert to a three-man central defence. 

Given Bailly's pace when compared to the two men we're about to mention, it would make sense for him to operate on the right of a three. Using that aspect of his game to either force opponents wide or prevent them reaching the last line of defence altogether could be a good way of getting the best out of him.

CB: Victor Lindelof 

Manchester United's Victor Lindelof

Again, the Swede is hardly a reincarnation of Nemanja Vidic but perhaps a defensive trio could help protect him somewhat. 

Of all of United's defensive options this season, Lindelof does have the highest pass success rate (93.8%) so sitting him centrally to start attacks with crisp passes to either his midfielders or wing-backs does appear to be the best use of his skill set. 

LCB: Harry Maguire 

Manchester United's Harry Maguire

Given the size of the investment in Harry Maguire, United simply have to make it work. The world's most expensive defender; his lack of mobility in a two with no midfield protection has been exposed time and time again this season.

So, at least in the short-term, returning him to the position that made him a household name during England's 2018 World Cup run would appear to make sense. 

Operating on the left and having the freedom to carry the ball forward, while leaving him less exposed, could be a quick-fire way of restoring his confidence. 

RWB: Aaron Wan-Bissaka

Manchester United's Aaron Wan-Bissaka

Pochettino's work in making Kyle Walker a £50m player after previously flattering to deceive somewhat should excite Aaron Wan-Bissaka. 

Described by Jamie Carragher as the best 1v1 defender in the world, adding extra attacking impetus to his game would make the former Crystal Palace man a real force to be reckoned with.

Long-term, his future could lie as a right-sided central defender in a 3 given his ability to deny pretty much any attacker on his day but, with a potential mid-season appointment in mind, there aren't many options to play with here.

LWB - Alex Telles

New Manchester United signing Alex Telles

Recently handed the moniker of being Porto's 'greatest ever left-back' by The Athletic, the key to unlocking Telles appears to be allowing him the freedom to make use of his attacking prowess.

With Maguire behind him and the ability to overlap the left-winger, United fans could be in for a treat. 11 assists last season do speak to a man capable of establishing himself as a cult-hero at Old Trafford.

CM: Bruno Fernandes 

Manchester United's Bruno Fernandes

The dream combination of the Portuguese and Paul Pogba simply isn't working. Thankfully for United, there appears to be only one winner with the latter making eyes with Real Madrid amid a number of disappointing performances. 

Fernandes is United's metronome. Even this season, he's making the highest number of key passes, crosses and long-balls per game. So, allowing him freedom in the middle of the park with defensive structure around him should see him able to make use of such creative talents. 

CM: Scott McTominay 

Manchester United's Scott McTominay

Much like their central defensive options, none of the players in a traditional No.6 role look overly convincing, 

There is work to be done in the transfer market but, for now, Scott McTominay looks a better fit than Nemanja Matic. 

In a two, there is obviously much more work to be done, so the Scotland international's mobility should see him selected to anchor the midfield. Averaging more tackles and interceptions per game than Matic, he'd allow Fernandes to push on while also potentially slotting in to cover Telles. 

RW: Marcus Rashford 

Manchester United's Marcus Rashford

Rashford's inclusion should speak for itself. A palpable goal threat and a player showing an increasing ability to create space in crowded areas, he's becoming THE key man at Old Trafford. 

An exceptional role model off the pitch, Rashford's growth into a genuine star out wide rather than a central player shunted out there indicates the kind of footballing intelligence which could see him elevate his game even further. 

ST: Anthony Martial 

Manchester United's Anthony Martial

Edinson Cavani may well be a useful option off the bench but, alongside the other two attackers, Martial has shown he can lead the line well. Granted, he is an entirely different profile to that of Harry Kane but, seeing how Pochettino helped make him one of Europe's elite marksmen, perhaps the Frenchman could be a beneficiary of his ability to coach strikers into hitting their next level. 

LW: Mason Greenwood 

Manchester United's Mason Greenwood

A scarily talented finisher, Mason Greenwood's youthful exuberance and devastating ability look every inch the kind of tools Pochettino seems to so enjoy working with. 

With Telles likely to overlap him and affording him space to attack central areas, more goals could come as a result. 

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