After a comprehensive defeat against Borussia Dortmund, who, let’s face it, were much more advanced in their preparations, Manchester United will now face their cross-city rivals in the next game. A friendly derby sounds like an oxymoron, to the fans at least, as the managers have toned down the significance of the game and the rivalry that it is bringing to the stage. Jose Mourinho, when asked about how special the game would be, on Friday said
“Not for me. I’m not with a special emotion to play against City. Against them at Old Trafford or Man City or in Wembley, but not in a pre-season friendly.”
Pep Guardiola, too, expressed similar emotions this morning during his pre-game press conference
Pep Guardiola asked whether facing United and Jose Mourinho can be a friendly. "It's a friendly game. It's a really friendly game."
— Rob Dawson (@RobDawsonMEN) July 24, 2016
Irrespective of what the significance of the game and it’s result is, both the teams, will need the much-needed minutes on the pitch, while both the managers will be looking to make some developments on the strategic fronts. The starting XI for the game will hence also be decided to keep all this in mind.
Starting XI (4-2-3-1):
Goalkeeper – Sergio Romero
The Argentinian keeper came out as a substitute for the second half but had to face two absolutely unstoppable shots. Sam Johnstone had a rather forgetful night against Dortmund and Romero might start ahead of him, keeping in mind that he will be the backup keeper for most of the games throughout the season.
Possible Substitute – David De Gea might get a few minutes in the second half depending on his readiness following his holidays.
Full Backs – Timothy Fosu-Mensah (RB) and Luke Shaw (LB)
Shaw needs as many minutes as he can get following his injury and subsequent time off from the games. Right back is one area where Mourinho might want to focus a bit more. Matteo Darmian, who is still on his holidays, did not have such a great last season. The only replacements for his position on the tour are Antonio Valencia and Fosu-Mensah. With Fosu-Mensah being left out of the squad for the last game, he might get to start this game and get a chance to impress his new manager.
Possible Substitution – Antonio Valencia
Central Defenders – Eric Bailly and Daley Blind
Bailly has been impressive so far in both the games and has not looked out-of-place. He will get more minutes to gel up with the squad and continue his impressive run. Blind, on the other hand, played as a defensive midfielder last game and did decently, creating the only goal for United with his incisive pass to Juan Mata. But Phil Jones, on the other hand, looked really rusty and out of sorts. Blind might be given back his last season’s position, especially in the absence of Chris Smalling, who is in the touring squad but as confirmed by Mourinho, won’t be playing in the games.
Possible Substitution – Phil Jones
Central Midfielders – Michael Carrick and Ander Herrera
Carrick has only played for a half against Wigan Athletic and hence might get a call up to add some minutes under his belt. Also with all the youngsters and newcomers playing Carrick will have to step up as the Captain. Carrick will be the one expected to guard the backline while Herrera should be the one taking the ball ahead.
Possible Substitution – Paddy McNair and Andreas Pereira
Wingers – Henrik Mkhitaryan (RW) and Memphis Depay (LW)
Mkhitaryan should be tried on the right-wing as that is another area United are lacking at the moment. Jesse Lingard is a good player to have but should not always be the first choice. With left-wing having options of Memphis and Anthony Martial (for the future games), the right-wing is the area the manager would want to focus on. Mkhitaryan has shown plenty promise in the first two games, especially the first when he played more centrally. But with the team that United have, he might be more needed in that right-winger role. The left-wing, for this game, can be occupied by Memphis, who was rather poor as a lone striker in the last game. It was just one half so one cannot read too much in to it but Mourinho might want to see what other strikers in his team have in store for him.
Possible Substitution – Jesse Lingard
Number 10 – Juan Mata
Out of three United goals so far in the pre-season, Mata assisted two. Mata, as Mourinho has already explained, has room in this United team. He lacks speed and physicality but can compensate with his creativity. Number 10 is the role which might suit him the most in such formation and the manager would like to see what can he do, especially when he also has the club captain, Wayne Rooney, pitched for the same role.
Possible Substitution – Wayne Rooney
Striker – Marcus Rashford
The manager did say that he won’t be playing the three England team members on the tour but saw Rashford play an entire second half last game. Rashford was not played a lot by England, so one would feel it isn’t that bad to have him play in the preseason. Also, United don’t have any more real strikers in the team who can be effective as the lone striker.
Possible Substitution – Will Keane