Manchester United’s First Team for the 2017/18 Season

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It is safe to say that Jose Mourinho’s first season with Manchester United in the Premier League was underwhelming. United scored just 54 goals all season and struggled to break down smaller teams. Mourinho’s side ended the season with fifteen draws. Although many teams played an ultra defensive game, with the players in the squad Mourinho really should be dispatching teams like West Brom, Southampton and Swansea, who they drew with last season. This shows that Mourinho was not getting the best out of his players and in order for success this season changes must be made. Last season against smaller teams, United played a possession heavy game but were still unable to break down defences. Despite having a lot of pace up front, United were not able to utilise the counter attack very efficiently.

Formation: 4-3-3 (Holding)

The 4-3-3 formation is one that provides the team with plenty of width. With the blistering pace of Anthony Martial, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Marcus Rashford, this wide formation should not be forgone. In addition, the 3 man midfield will allow Paul Pogba to display his full potential as he will be given a slightly more attacking role, similar to the one he plays for the French national team. This formation is also well suited for United to initiate counter attacks because the rapid wingers will be able to drift out wide and draw in the full backs before delivering a ball into the middle. The flat back four can be made even more steady with a holding midfielder. With United lacking depth in the defensive department, the inclusion of a defensive midfielder would definitely provide some more defensive stability. The 4-3-3 seems to be the perfect formation to accomodate everyone in the current Manchester United team. 

Goalkeeper: David De Gea

There is no doubt that David De Gea is United’s number 1. The Spaniard has proved his consistency between the sticks time and time again. Despite having an inconsistent back four last season, De Gea still managed to keep 14 clean sheets in the Premier League. De Gea has shown his world class talent by pulling out some top drawer saves during very important fixtures. Despite Sergio Romero having an exceptional season, keeping all throughout United’s Europa League triumph. De Gea is one of the world’s best keepers and if he remains at United, it is highly unlikely he will lose his place as starter.

Left Back: Luke Shaw

Unfortunately, Shaw has suffered two season ending injuries and hasn’t been able to settle into the United team. However, during the start of last season, Shaw proved that he is a well suited left back, putting in some great defensive displays as well as being an attacking threat. Despite having a reportedly poor relationship with Jose Mourinho, the Englishman should still be included in United’s first eleven. He will fit into the current United team, as he uses his pace to overlap with Martial along the left hand side. Furthermore, Shaw’s strong crossing abilities can be quite valuable as Belgian striker, Romelu Lukaku is a strong aerial threat.

Centre Back: Eric Bailly

Last season, Eric Bailly was nothing short of a defensive rock. The Ivorian was the heart of the United defence putting in countless man of the match. Bailly, was well disciplined and consistent throughout the season, furthermore he displayed outstanding leadership by controlling the defence when Chris Smalling was injured. There is no doubt that Bailly will retain his position in the first eleven next season. However Bailly struggles to hold onto the ball at times. With new center back partner Victor Lindelof, United have two complimentary center halves. Bailly is a great ball winner and tackler whilst Lindelof has the ability to play out short passes. 

Centre Back: Victor Lindelof

Ex- Benfica centre back Victor Lindelof has had a phenomenal season in Portugal and would be a great centre back partner alongside Eric Bailly. Lindelof’s ball playing skills and passing abilities will give United the option of playing out from the back. This could be something new for United as both Bailly and Smalling are not great passers. Between Lindelof and Bailly they cover all of the defensive traits a center back partnership should have. Lindelof could fit in very nicely in the backline as last season United struggled to find a consistent back four.

Right Back: Antonio Valencia

Ecuadorian international, Antonio Valencia has been one of United’s best players this past season. Valencia is rapid and constantly causes an attacking threat. The 31 year old has put in some world class defensive performances and has adopted to the right back position very well. Valencia would fit in perfectly into the first eleven as he is a strong leader; been with the club for a while and undoubtedly has the footballing ability to play as right back. With two very new centre backs and an inexperienced left back, it is vital that Valencia is in the team to help control the backline.

Centre Midfielder: Ander Herrera

Herrera’s versatility was put on show as he put in MOTM performances in various midfield positions last term. Herrera provided 6 assists during the Premier League season and his presence on the pitch is significantly under valued. He has great footballing presence and reads the game exceptionally well. Herrera has definitely strengthened the United midfield and alongside Paul Pogba they have potential to be a dynamic midfield duo. 

Centre Midfielder (Holding): Fabinho Potential Transfer

Fabinho is at his best in holding midfield role, but is perfectly capable of playing a box-to-box role or at right-back. This versatility would allow him to anchor the midfield on his own in a 4-3-3. The Brazilian is great and winning the ball back in midfield and initiating counter attacks, this will prove extremely beneficial to the current squad as they struggled to break down teams by playing a possession heavy game.

Center Midfielder: Paul Pogba

Pogba’s price tag has meant that there were extremely high expectations of the Frenchman. However, Pogba significantly underperformed last season and will be looking to redeem himself. There is no doubt that the former World XI player has the ability to control the tempo of games, score goals and provide assists. By playing the 4-3-3 formation, it would give Pogba the freedom to push forward and display his creative capabilities.

Left Winger: Anthony Martial

21 year old, Anthony Martial has adopted to the left wing position very well. After signing as a striker, Martial has been pushed out wide as Zlatan Ibrahimovic was playing the striker position. The Frenchman has displayed his strong finishing skills throughout the season. However, playing out wide, he will need to work on his crossing abilities to retain his position in the first team throughout the season. In order for him to become more consistent he will need more game time under Jose Mourinho.

Striker: Romelu Lukaku 

Belgian striker Romelu Lukaku scored 25 goals last season, proving that he is one to watch. The 24 year old is set to be a great addition to the current United team as he would bring strength and pace to cause defenders problems. His clinical finishing ability and link up play would be welcome. Paul Pogba thrives when latching onto through balls for example when breaking from midfield. Lukaku is a proven goal machine and is also a big personality off the pitch. He is the type of number nine that United have been lacking for a while.

Right Winger: Henrikh Mkhitaryan

Armenian winger Mkhitaryan, was another one who struggled to find consistency last season. However, when given the chance to play, he certainly didn’t disappoint. The 28 year old played a key role in United’s Europa league triumph, scoring 6 goals in 10 games. The former Dortmund man definitely has the potential to be one of the Premier Leagues best players. Mkhitaryan’s versatility also allows him to play as an attacking midfielder which can prove useful when playing the 4-2-3-1 formation.

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