After derby day disappointment, Manchester United will be looking to bounce back in solid fashion against a formidable Feyenoord side. Travelling to Netherlands for a Thursday game represents an intimidating proposition, but surely a side in the form of Jose Mourinho’s United has the quality to win the match. Do our writers think he will, though? Aaron Moniz, Shawn Medow, and Matt Henderson give their takes.
Aaron Moniz: I have no clue who’ll start the match, so I’ve gone with what I want to see. The only reason to ever play Sergio Romero would be to negate risk of injuring David de Gea. I’ve thrown all the Dutchmen into the side, so Timothy Fosu-Mensah, Daley Blind and Memphis all start even though I doubt the former two will. Matteo Darmian should rest Luke Shaw at left-back, though Mourinho will probably go with Marcos Rojo. I’ve gone with Chris Smalling to warm him up to pair Eric Bailly at Vicarage Road, where Blind shouldn’t have to come up against Watford’s physical strikers.
Ander Herrera has to start, and his new-found defensive responsibility makes him the perfect foil for Morgan Schneiderlin and Paul Pogba in a midfield three. Zlatan Ibrahimovic should rest, so I picked Marcus Rashford with Memphis on the left. I want to see Henrikh Mkhitaryan again, but Mourinho said he and Jesse Lingard won’t play, so I’ve put Juan Mata out there because he excelled in the role under Louis van Gaal. Playing Wayne Rooney is a disgrace, but playing him so often is also unfair to him, because he needs to be rested sometimes.
Starting XI: De Gea; Fosu-Mensah, Smalling, Blind, Darmian; Schneiderlin, Herrera, Pogba; Mata, Rashford, Memphis
Feyenoord is known for some good young players and in early days they sit atop the Eredivisie. In addition, playing in the Netherlands is a massive occasion even if the opposition is poor. That being said, I expect United to outscore their Dutch opponents in a match of wonderful tactics, counter-attacking football and a Paul Pogba masterclass if he plays in a 4-3-3 midfield.
Prediction: Feyenoord 1-2 Manchester United
Shawn Medow: Manchester United has to bounce back from the Manchester derby loss on Saturday where United looked poor in the first half but could have come back in the second half after Jesse Lingard and Henrikh Mkhitaryan were subbed out. Jose Mourinho said that he plans to start Marcus Rashford, who came on at halftime in the Derby and looked brilliant. United needs to get back on a winning track to focus on the Premier League, and the match at Feyenoord will give the Red Devils a chance to experiment with the team to add diversity to the lineup used in the Premier League. My prediction for United’s starting XI:
Starting XI: De Gea; Blind, Smalling, Bailly, Valencia; Pogba, Fellaini; Rooney; Rashford, Martial, Ibrahimovic
Anthony Martial did not start in the Derby but was used as a late sub when Luke Shaw hobbled off. Shaw should be replaced by Daley Blind with Chris Smalling getting the start alongside Eric Bailly with Antonio Valencia continuing to play in right back. Marouane Fellaini has played well in midfield under Mourinho and should start with Paul Pogba again to give the Frenchman more minutes with his new team. Captain Wayne Rooney should start to have a leader in the midfield while Rashford and Martial could cause problems for the Dutch defense down the flanks. Zlatan Ibrahimovic continues to score for United, even when he has played poorly. He needs to speed up his game and he will become even more lethal, which could start this Thursday.
Prediction: Manchester United 3-1 Feyenoord
Matt Henderson: I’m still reeling a tad from Saturdays defeat to City if I’m honest, and unfortunately the Europa League doesn’t promise to be much of a reprieve for my woes. I think it’s a competition many of us don’t particularly care about, and I think Jose Mourinho is in the same bracket as the majority of the fan base. I don’t expect a full side out, with the league looking like the main focus I think the Europa League will be used to sharpen players up and utilise the depth in the squad. I’m not expecting United to go out and drub Feyenoord 4/5-0 (not least because it’s in Holland and the Dutch side are fairly handy) but I’d be confident of a victory if Mourinho plays a strong team. My prediction for the starters are;
Starting XI: Romero; Fosu-Mensah, Jones, Smalling, Rojo; Schneiderlin, Pogba; Mata, Rooney, Mkhitaryan; Rashford
Whether or not David De Gea will get rested is yet to be seen, I don’t believe keepers need all too much of a relax in between games but this could be used as an opportunity to keep Romero sharp should anything happen to De Gea. I could be very wide of the mark in thinking Mourinho will rotate all that much but players like Jones, Rojo and Schneiderlin all need minutes at some point. Pogba needs to play to continue developing in a slightly different role to that he held at Juventus, and I’d be surprised if Marcus Rashford wasn’t chosen over Ibrahimovic to both players benefit. If Rashford starts, he scores. I also wouldn’t be overly surprised to see Henrikh Mkhitaryan join in the goalscoring fun. It won’t be an easy game, but I think it should be negotiated in a positive manner.
Prediction: Feyenoord 1-2 Manchester United
Predictions were written in advance of the Press Conference and the Squad being announced for the Feyenoord match.