With reports mounting that his job could be on the line if his side does not win tomorrow’s Premier League match against Everton, Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s team selection for the game takes on even greater significance than usual.
The last time Solskjaer’s back was to the wall – the game following the 6-1 home defeat to Spurs, which was an away trip to Newcastle – he surprised everyone by picking the likes of Fred, Scott McTominay, Dan James and Juan Mata ahead of the likes of Paul Pogba, Nemanja Matic, Mason Greenwood (who may or may not have been injured) and Donny van de Beek.
This suggests that he will go to players who he believes has his back under these circumstances and may do so again tomorrow.
However, Anthony Martial is available again after completing his suspension and after the 4-4-2 diamond failed so miserably on Wednesday in Istanbul, it is likely that the manager will be tempted to return to his tried and tested 4-2-3-1 formation, with Martial up top and Rashford and Greenwood on the wings, although Juan Mata, Dan James or even the returning Jesse Lingard may be preferred to the latter in the boss’s current state of mind.
Despite some jaded performances lately, talisman Bruno Fernandes is likely to retain the number 10 role and assuming he is fit, Victor Lindelof will be recalled alongside Harry Maguire in defence.
Elsewhere in defence, David de Gea will almost certainly return in goal and although it is possible that Alex Telles will be available if he returns a negative Covid test, Luke Shaw’s match fitness, experience in the team and decent recent form will almost certainly mean he will retain the left-back berth regardless of the Brazilian’s availability.
This leaves the two central midfield berths and it seems probable that Fred and McTominay will be trusted again, especially after they were rested in midweek.
This, then, is our predicted XI:
United have had some world class goalkeepers over the years and some entertaining ones too. Take our quiz below to find out how much you know about United’s number 1’s, past and present.