With pressure mounting on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, the Manchester United manager knows that anything other than victory against Atalanta in the Champions League tomorrow at Old Trafford will escalate the feel-bad factor to almost unbearable levels.
After the Leicester City defeat on Saturday, Solskjaer suggested that ‘something needs to change’ and as such we expect that to be reflected in a different line-up tomorrow.
And with an almost fully fit squad to choose from, with just Raphael Varane ruled out and a slight doubt over Anthony Martial, there are plenty of options at his disposal.
The biggest issue on Saturday was the defence, but it is hard to imagine that the manager will change it. The biggest culprit in the four goals conceded was captain Harry Maguire, but it would be a huge shock if Solskjaer were to punish that performance, especially as he was rushed back from injury.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka is available after UEFA upheld an appeal from United to reduce his suspension from two games to one.
When his back is against the wall, Solskjaer tends to go to his trusted lieutenants, players with a high work rate and whose loyalty he does not question. This will probably mean that the double midfield pivot of Scott McTominay and Fred, who was unavailable on Saturday following international duty, will be reinstated.
Marcus Rashford and Bruno Fernandes are also in Ole’s go-to band of brothers and will also start.
Mason Greenwood’s form on the right wing will surely earn him another start, so this means that Paul Pogba is likely to be dropped for this crucial game.
Up front it is a straight choice between Cristiano Ronaldo and Edinson Cavani. After a blistering start to his return to United, Ronaldo has only scored one goal in his last four outings and his well-documented lack of pressing at a time when Solskjaer needs effort could see him consigned to the bench alongside Pogba.
If this does happen, what effect dropping the elite pair may have within the dressing room remains to be seen.
These choices will also mean no place in the starting line-up for Jadon Sancho, who is struggling to find any rhythm in a United shirt and is in and out of the team, making that process even harder.
Unless United find themselves in a comfortable position in the match, it seems unlikely that Sancho will even be given minutes off the bench and we expect that the likes of Jesse Lingard and Martial, if fit, might find their way onto the pitch ahead of him.
With all that in mind, this then is our predicted XI for tomorrow’s game: