Manchester United find themselves outside the qualification spots in their Europa League group after defeats at Feyenoord and Fenerbahce.
However, comfortable home wins over Fenerbahce and Zorya Luhansk means that Jose Mourinho‘s men need just four more points to guarantee their passage into the next round.
Thursday’s home game against Feyenoord – winless in their last three away games – provides an excellent chance for Man United to place one foot in the next round, whilst also giving Mourinho a chance to give some fringe players a chance to impress with Sunday’s game with West Ham lingering on the horizon.
With that in mind, here are three players that must start on Thursday night.
The Dutchman has only managed one start under Mourinho this season. His appearances are sporadic and characterised by a discernible lack of confidence, leading to reports of a potential move away from Old Trafford in January.
A chance to impress against Feyenoord, a side he once terrorised during his days at PSV Eindhoven, feels necessary for the 22-year-old, who has hardly made an impact on Man United’s Premier League campaign. One suspects that a strong individual performance in a must-win game could do wonders for Memphis’ depleted confidence.
Fosu-Mensah would have enjoyed his last European outing more than most. Coming on with 15 minutes left with the result essentially decided, the 18-year-old was handed a chance to impress in midfield. He was everywhere, flying about making tackles and interceptions, like when you let a labrador go outside for the first time in a while.
Whether he’ll get a chance to feature in central midfield – his natural position – from the start on Thursday remains to be seen, but the game against Feyenoord acts as an excellent opportunity for the defender to show his worth, with Mourinho likely to hand the likes of Matteo Darmian and Antonio Valencia a chance to rest before Sunday.
The 26-year-old was perhaps left sidelined last Saturday with this game in mind. United’s defeat in Rotterdam – or at least the goal they conceded – was characterised by a sudden lack of control at the back, a sense of panic and dysfunction that ended up pervading the entire side as they made an unsuccessful response late on.
Blind’s presence, therefore, feels important on Thursday. United will want to dominate proceedings from the start, giving Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s side the same treatment Fenerbahce received, and the Dutchman’s composure and poise at the back gives Mourinho’s men an excellent platform from which to launch attacks.