No matter what your opinion on Wayne Rooney is, no one can deny the fact, that the club captain has had an exceptional career at Manchester United. So a testimonial is completely justified. However, after the waste of time that the China tour was, this game might just be a bit more than a testimonial for a lot of the involved parties.
With a little less than two weeks to go for the Premier League season to start and less than a week away from the Community Shield against Leicester City, United would like to get as much game time as they can. In this testimonial and the FA Community Shield game, United get to play two extra games as compared to other clubs before the season is upon us. Community Shield is far from a friendly and will be the first competitive test for Jose Mourinho and his pupils. So effectively, tomorrow’s is the last game of Mourinho’s “honeymoon” period as the United manager. He was clear about how he wants to go about it; exactly as he did in the last game. The 22 players that will be included for this game might as just be the same as the one against Galatasaray but the starting XI might change.
Starting XI (4-2-3-1):
Goalkeeper – David De Gea
The Spaniard saw two goals go past him in the one-half that he played in the last game. Not that any of those chances were easy or saveable, De Gea would like to have a clean sheet to show for in tomorrow’s game.
Full Backs – Luke Shaw, Antonio Valencia
Shaw will get as much game time as he possibly can take and so far it has seemed to be working for him. The sharpness, the pace, and link up play with the left winger is starting to come together, although there is quite some distance to go. Valencia, on the other hand, came out flying in the last game and registered three assists. He might keep his starting position as well and if he keeps up his performances, might as well get in to the starting XI for the community shield.
Central Defenders – Eric Bailly and Daley Blind
The defence in the last game was found out. The first goal came out of a set piece, something that United have been vulnerable to for a long time now. But the second one was the one which saw the defence split open. This is where Mourinho would want to make things better. It has always been the primary attribute of Mourinho’s teams; Solid at the back. Blind has been a regular starter till now in all the pre-season friendlies and with Chris Smalling out due to a niggle, might get a nod again.
Central Midfielders – Michael Carrick and Ander Herrera
Morgan Schneiderlin, who started the last game looked a little rusty and might still need some time to get back in to his tempo. He had a rather difficult Europa, 2016, where he hardly got any game time and hence has been away from match fitness for some time now. Mourinho might want to use him as a substitute for a couple of games before he gets in to his groove. Michael Carrick is well and truly qualified for the job so that should not be a problem. Herrera, too, has been doing pretty decently in the preseason games and we might see him more regularly this season. Of course, that also depends on upon the arrival of a certain midfielder and the system that Mourinho employs.
Wingers – Memphis Depay and Henrikh Mkhitaryan
Memphis had a small outing last time but he did show why fans were excited when he signed on. He had an amazing time and was at ease running past the defenses and the United manager should give him a start to build on this confidence of his. Right wing, on the other hand, doesn’t have a lot of takers. Mkhitaryan seems to be the current obvious choice for starting and so should he. He, also, still needs some time with his new teammates on the field in order to get the communication and understanding to a competitive level.
Number 10 – Wayne Rooney
Man of the hour, Rooney, will take up this position and will like to get off the block quicker this time. HE did score two goals in the last game but was poor in the first half. His passing was haywire and his first touch was even more disastrous. He will have to make sure that he keeps the performance levels high on the night when all the focus and attention will be on him.
Striker – Zlatan Ibrahimovic
What a way it was to announce yourself. Zlatan, with an acrobatic scissor kick goal, got the stadium on the feet. With Mourinho and his first night out at Old Trafford, the place will be buzzing and the stage will be set for him to extend his great start. Zlatan will be playing in the squad as a striker but will have a greater role to play, on and off the pitch. The leadership and experience are what the whole team will benefit from and that is exactly why the Portuguese manager got the Swedish (retired) international to Old Trafford.
Possible Substitutions: Sergio Romero; Matteo Darmian, Phil Jones, Marcus Rojo; Morgan Schneiderlin, Marouane Fellaini; Jesse Lingard, Anthony Martial, Juan Mata; Marcus Rashford