Manchester United will not face a tougher opening first 45 minutes all season than the one they endured against Real Madrid in Skopje on Tuesday.
They were pummelled by a simply brilliant Madrid side, with Isco – backed up by the mesmerising midfield pair of Luka Modric and Toni Kroos – running the show.
Jose Mourinho needed to make changes and did, sending on Marcus Rashford and Marouane Fellaini for the second half, and the game’s entire dynamic changed, with the pair leading a second half onslaught that should have seen Man United draw level.
And with that in mind, here is a potential XI featuring the pair for the clash with West Ham United this weekend.
Ander Herrera needed to start every game last season because Mourinho had nobody else capable of offering the same level of aggression. But with Nemanja Matic added to the ranks that has changed, giving the Portuguese a chance to use the more attack-minded Fellaini, who has enjoyed an impressive pre-season, as a way of getting United further up the pitch and pressurising West Ham’s back four.
Rashford changed the game against Madrid, forcing Dani Carvajal and the entire Madrid back four to stretch for the first time, and he produced similar heroics during United’s last clash with West Ham, causing immediate damage on the left hand side and setting up United’s opener.
Mourinho needs to show more attacking verve this season if United are to compete for the title and that should begin with fielding an aggressive lineup for the first game of the 2017/18 campaign.