Manchester United are looking to bounce back from their opening day defeat against Swansea when they play another minnow this weekend, Sunderland. Van Gaal has said it takes three months for him to get his teams going, yet by that time the title may already be beyond him. If that happens, a United fanbase that seems to have forgotten about patience since Ferguson left, may not be so keen on the football genius.
United goes into the match with a small squad due to injury, the same as they did against Swansea the opening game. Nine players are out. This includes not only players who were already injured before or during the Swansea match like Jesse Lingard, Johnny Evans, Luke Shaw, Antonio Valencia, Danny Welbeck, Andreson, and Michael Carrick, but two more midfielders as well, Ander Herrera and Mauroane Fellaini. The former is a crucial blow to United’s midfield. It appears now the Red Devils’ entire midfield is injured, and give-the-ball-away Cleverley will likely start.
Another key absence is newly signed Marcos Rojo, who is yet to receive his work permit. United must do more in the transfer window in order to strengthen their lackluster squad, but for now their focus turns to Sunderland.
It’s clear Van Gaal still wants to stick with this formation, even though he changed it in the 2nd half against Swansea. Plus, playing with more than three midfielders at the present moment may be impossible for United, as everyone’s injured! Albeit, United don’t seem to have enough defenders to play in this position, and Van Gaal should be more open to formation changes in the future.
Goalkeeper: David De Gea
Goalkeeper is one of the only areas that is not a concern for United. David De Gea will start this match and will likely start all matches for United this season.
CB: Phil Jones
The Phil Jones face would be many fan’s reactions if they don’t sign a center back this summer. Jones did have an outstanding performance against Swansea and made several key tackles, but his performances are too inconsistent. Against Sunderland, his quality in 1 v 1 defending and ball distribution should be enough.
CB: Chris Smalling
Another inconsistent player . Much maligned by United fans, he’ll once again have to be part of the back three in a Manchester United game. Admittedly, he’s good in the air, but he makes too many tactical errors.
CB: Tyler Blackett
The young defender did ok in his debut against Swansea. With all the injuries United are experiencing, he’ll probably be a starter for a while to come, as he showed against Swansea that he can handle the pressure. He will be a great player in the future.
LWB: Adnan Januzaj
Like he did against Swansea, he will to have to play wingback this match even though he is not the best defender. However, having said that, what he can give in the attack more than makes up for any of his defensive deficiencies. When he came on against Swansea he was United’s best player. Plus, giving Januzaj defensive responsibilities shouldn’t be a problem against a weaker team like Sunderland.
RWB: Ashley Young
Everyone knows he’s an awful defender, but United don’t have a choice, they have to play him. He will get down the flanks, and maybe he can provide a killer cross this game to shut up his critics. But likely, he will be utterly ineffective.
CM: Darren Fletcher
He has experience, and his passing is excellent. He can be a calming presence for United and can slow the game down, but by no means is a crucial player at either end of the pitch- he is not good enough at defending or at creating chances for the forwards.
CM: Tom Cleverley
Every time he touches the ball, it ends up at the feet of the other team. He mistimed tackles like crazy. He sometimes scores brilliant goals, but not often. Cleverley playing in this game begs the question why United haven’t signed a defensive mid yet. Sunderland should be looking to get three points in this match, and to do so they must try to overrun a United midfield that doesn’t look strong at all.
AM: Juan Mata
The burden of creativity will fall on Mata this match, as his compatriot Ander Herrera was injured. Shut out of the game against Swansea, Mata needs to play more intelligently and have more patience when things are going wrong in order to succeed against Sunderland.
FW: Wayne Rooney
United’s best or second best player, Rooney will be heavily scrutinized in this match, after some big names have said he’s not the right choice for captain. His quality will always tell, but can he keep a cool head and inspire his teammates, or will he just shout them off the pitch?
FW: Robin Van Persie
He is expected to make his return Sunday and that is the best piece of news for United fans. Injuries were a concern for him last season, and having participated in the World Cup they could be again this season. So, United need to get the most out of him while he’s still 100%.