On Thursday we published an article naming three players who we think simply must start against Tottenham Hotspur this weekend.
Now on the flip-side we’re going to take a look at three players we think Louis van Gaal should leave on the bench in what will be a weekly two-part series ahead of every game. With that in mind, here’s who we think shouldn’t be in the starting XI.
It goes without saying that Manchester United are better in central midfield when Marouane Fellaini doesn’t play and heading into what is one of our toughest remaining games this season against Spurs, we can ill afford to take a step backwards by bringing him back into the starting XI.
His bullish, uncultured style is a handicap to free flowing football and up against a well drilled Spurs side who squeeze space out of the game with their high energy work out of possession, a lethargic and clumsy Fellaini is the opposite of what United need.
If we’re a goal up or down with 15 minutes to go and we need to change our tactic, that’s when van Gaal should bring Fellaini on. Otherwise, he should warm the bench and let Morgan Schneiderlin and Ander Herrera take their rightful places in the heart of our midfield.
I’ve never been completely sold on Marcos Rojo and he exposed all of his flaws last week against Everton in what was an extremely poor performance which was worthy of being taken off at half-time. Timothy Fosu-Mensah‘s brilliant 45 minute cameo only compounded just how poor Rojo was.
Spurs’ real strength comes in the relentless drive of their full-backs and given that Rojo neither has great positional awareness or the speed to make up for it, we’d be shooting ourselves in the foot by starting him. Fosu-Mensah has stood up to every test we’ve thrown at him so far and I’d be inclined to potentially give him the nod.
First and foremost, Valencia is a right-winger. He’s not a right-back but rarely does he ever play in his natural position any more but he’s now available again after a lay-off, so van Gaal might be tempted to bring him back into the starting XI for some experience. I hope he doesn’t.
To start Valencia would be to overlook both Matteo Darmian and Guillermo Varela, with the latter being particularly impressive in these last few months bar a poor 45 minutes against Liverpool which saw him subsequently dropped from the following two match day squads.
Seeing as he is only just coming back from injury, starting Valencia in such a high tempo game as Spurs will be might not be the best move either and given the options we’ve got available, I’d be inclined to leave him on the bench as well.