Nobody should dispute that the starting XI for Manchester United has their best days ahead of them, as their inexperience will likely cost them over the season. Memphis Depay, Luke Shaw, Anthony Martial, Phil Jones, Chris Smalling, and Morgan Schneiderlin are still years from their best, thus expectations should be adjusted.
However, what may help United right now is a perfect cast of role players from the bench. Ashley Young, Marouane Fellaini, Ander Herrera, and Antonio Valencia’s energy and versatility may be the difference this season between a top-6 finish and an EPL title.
Marouane Fellaini finished strong last season, he simply dominated the center of the pitch. His ability to bring the ball down may be the best in the Premier League and clearing crosses out of their box is something United need late in games (Especially after their final 15 minutes against Southampton).
This year he has been ineffective when cast as a striker or a 10 and should return to a more defensive position. After all, Fellaini told Bleacher Report: “when the manager asks me to play somewhere, I play there. . . but my best position is midfield.”
Fellaini needs to be a vital component in protecting leads, not gaining them. He can be a very valuable sub because of his ability to dominate the midfield for 15-20 minutes a game.
The most important and consistent sub this season should be Ashley Young. United’s possessive style have a tendency to put other teams, fans, and occasionally themselves to sleep. Young has the ability to wake up an entire team, just as he did against Liverpool in their 3-1 win. Young came into the game and within 5 minutes, he sped by Nathaniel Clyne and drew a foul at the edge of the box. (Resulting in a goal)
For Manchester United, he is best as a substitute when he can play at 100% pace for a short timeframe. He is someone who can provide dangerous services when United need late goals to tie or win games.
Lastly, injuries are a part of the game and when needed, Herrera and Valencia are players who can come in a play an effective 90 minutes whenever called upon.
Manchester United’s starting XI is simply not the best in the league, because of their youth and inexperience. However, if this depth is utilized correctly by Louis Van Gaal, this squad can contend for a title.