Cristiano Ronaldo benched: Man Utd’s likely XI for start of 2022-23 season

  • Rob Swan
Cristiano Ronaldo benched as Erik ten Hag ‘selects Man Utd front three’ for start of season

Cristiano Ronaldo is set to start on the bench for Manchester United’s opening Premier League fixture of the 2022-23 season against Brighton.

Erik ten Hag takes charge of the Red Devils in a competitive match for the first time on Sunday afternoon at Old Trafford.

And the Dutch coach, who has already made a positive impact on his squad throughout pre-season, has already made one huge call regarded the club’s star player.

According to The Sun’s Neil Custis, Ronaldo will be named among the substitutes this weekend.

Ten Hag will instead opt for the front three who have impressed as a unit this summer: Jadon Sancho, Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial.

Ronaldo reportedly still wants to leave United before the transfer window closes, although a lack of interest from other clubs may mean the 37-year-old has little choice but to stay at the Theatre of Dreams.

cristiano ronaldo
Soccer Football – Pre Season Friendly – Manchester United v Rayo Vallecano – Old Trafford, Manchester, Britain – July 31, 2022 Manchester United’s Cristiano Ronaldo reacts Action Images via Reuters/Ed Sykes

Man Utd’s likely XI for start of 2022-23 season

Now that we know what United’s front three will look like for the start of the new season, let’s have a go at predicting the rest of the XI.

Premier League 22/23 Game week 1: Fixtures, predictions, odds, table & everything you need to know

Goalkeeper: David de Gea

A pretty safe bet this one, especially now that Dean Henderson has been loaned to Nottingham Forest.

David de Gea is unlikely to have his place taken by 36-year-old Tom Heaton.

David de Gea
BANGKOK, THAILAND – JULY 12: Goalkeeper David de Gea #1 of Manchester United passes the ball during the second half of a preseason friendly match against Liverpool at Rajamangala National Stadium on July 12, 2022 in Bangkok, Thailand. (Photo by Pakawich Damrongkiattisak/Getty Images)

Right-back: Diogo Dalot

Diogo Dalot has started most of United’s pre-season games while Ten Hag is reportedly not Aaron Wan-Bissaka’s biggest fan. 

 Diogo Dalot
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – JULY 15: Diogo Dalot of Manchester United in action during the Pre-Season friendly match between Melbourne Victory and Manchester United at Melbourne Cricket Ground on July 15, 2022 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Jonathan DiMaggio/Getty Images)

Centre-back: Harry Maguire

Harry Maguire has his critics but Ten Hag has allowed the English centre-back to keep the captain’s armband this season. Therefore, it would be a surprise if the 29-year-old isn’t in United’s starting line-up for the Brighton game.

Harry Maguire
PERTH, AUSTRALIA – JULY 23: Harry Maguire of Manchester United looks on during the Pre-Season Friendly match between Manchester United and Aston Villa at Optus Stadium on July 23, 2022 in Perth, Australia. (Photo by Albert Perez/Getty Images)

Centre-back: Lisandro Martinez

Lisandro Martinez impressed during his first appearance for Manchester United against Rayo Vallecano last weekend. The Argentine centre-back, a £46 million signing from Ajax, also played in a behind-closed-doors friendly against Wrexham days earlier. Ten Hag may choose to start Raphael Varane or Victor Lindelof instead, but don’t be surprised if Martinez is the defender Ten Hag picks to partner Maguire this weekend. 

Lisandro Martinez
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND – JULY 31: Lisandro Martinez of Manchester United during the Pre-Season Friendly match between Manchester United and Rayo Vallecano at Old Trafford on July 31, 2022 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images)

Left-back: Luke Shaw 

Tyrell Malacia is still settling in at Old Trafford follow his summer move from Feyenoord, so expect Luke Shaw to be given the nod against Brighton.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – JULY 15: Luke Shaw of Manchester United in action during the Pre-Season friendly match between Melbourne Victory and Manchester United at Melbourne Cricket Ground on July 15, 2022 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Jonathan DiMaggio/Getty Images)

Central midfield: Fred

Fred was sent off after receiving two yellow cards on his previous outing for United against Atletico Madrid last weekend, but that won’t prevent the Brazilian from starting on the opening weekend of the new season.

Fred United
PERTH, AUSTRALIA – JULY 23: Fred of Manchester United waves to the crowd after the Pre-Season Friendly match between Manchester United and Aston Villa at Optus Stadium on July 23, 2022 in Perth, Australia. (Photo by James Worsfold/Getty Images)

Central midfield: Christian Eriksen

United fans are excited to see what Christian Eriksen can give to the team this season. Selecting the Dane over the more defensively-minded Scott McTominay would be a decision welcomed by large sections of the Old Trafford faithful.

 Christian Eriksen
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND – JULY 31: Christian Eriksen of Manchester United during the Pre-Season Friendly match between Manchester United and Rayo Vallecano at Old Trafford on July 31, 2022 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images)

Attacking midfield: Bruno Fernandes

Bruno Fernandes blew hot and cold last season but United fans have seen the best of the Portuguese maestro since his move from Sporting Lisbon in 2020 and know he’s a world-class operator on his day.

Bruno Fernandes
OSLO, NORWAY – JULY 30: Bruno Fernandes of Manchester United in action during the pre-season friendly match between Manchester United and Atletico Madrid at Ullevaal Stadion on July 30, 2022 in Oslo, Norway. (Photo by Ragnar Singsaas/Getty Images)

Right-wing: Jadon Sancho

Entering his second season at Man Utd, Jadon Sancho will be keen to cement his status as one of the Premier League’s best players this term.

Jadon Sancho
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – JULY 15: Jadon Sancho of Manchester United runs with the ball during the Pre-Season friendly match between Melbourne Victory and Manchester United at Melbourne Cricket Ground on July 15, 2022 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Mike Owen/Getty Images)

Left-wing: Marcus Rashford

Marcus Rashford has to his the ground running this season. He knows that better than anyone. Scoring against Brighton would be the perfect way to announce that he’s back.

Marcus Rashford
OSLO, NORWAY – JULY 30: Marcus Rashford of Manchester United in action during the pre-season friendly match between Manchester United and Atletico Madrid at Ullevaal Stadion on July 30, 2022 in Oslo, Norway. (Photo by Ragnar Singsaas/Getty Images)

Centre-forward: Anthony Martial

Very impressive in pre-season, nobody would have predicted a few months ago that Anthony Martial would be leading the line for United in their opening game of the 2022-23 campaign. This is his big chance to prove  that he deserves to wear the club’s No. 9 shirt.

Anthony Martial
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – JULY 19: Anthony Martial of Manchester United celebrates after scoring a goal during the Pre-Season Friendly match between Manchester United and Crystal Palace at Melbourne Cricket Ground on July 19, 2022 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)

And here’s what the team looks like on paper:

Man Utd's likely 2022-23 XI
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