Will Manchester United run out of gas on the season’s home stretch?

Manchester United is facing a fatigue problem with under 10 games to go in the season. United have six Premier League games left, which includes Thursday’s Manchester derby. United is still in the UEFA Europa League and will play Celta Vigo in the semifinal of the tournament. With no FA Cup to play for and the EFL Cup already won, United can still win an untraditional double. United’s schedule, however, is incredibly packed with a weekend and midweek match for every week for the remainder of the season. This hectic schedule will cause fatigue, especially with United losing so many players to injury.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Marcos Rojo are set to miss the rest of the season with ligament damage in their knees. Now, United has to get different players in who will not get the rest they could have had down the stretch of the season. Paul Pogba could be out too, which could mean even less depth in United’s lineup from defense all the way through to strikers. However, players have already stepped up. Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford have performed brilliantly in recent games and even Wayne Rooney made it into the game at Burnley in which the skipper and Martial each scored one, while Martial earned the assist on Rooney’s goal. But, strikers are not the only ones in need of stepping up for United.

The back line seems to always have pieces missing each game. Luke Shaw, who seemed to have a fall out with Jose Mourinho, is in the lineup recently and is playing well. After Rojo came off injured against Anderlecht, Daley Blind came in, and he was the last remaining healthy centre-back. Seeing Pogba’s exhaustion after playing so many minutes is concerning with these big games ahead for United. Michael Carrick and Ander Herrera have been instrumental to United’s midfield this season but there is a lot of ground for these two to cover over the 90 minutes of a game. For Carrick, age is surely catching up with him while for Herrera, he is tasked with roles of shutting down players like Eden Hazard. He’s done well with that for now but it might be difficult for him to continue his good run of form with such a packed schedule.

With matches against City, Arsenal and Tottenham still left to play, there will be loads of pressure for United’s players to perform in these big games. With fatigue, United may be in trouble. United does not need to prioritize winning the Europa League or getting into the top four in the Premier League. United can get both. Obviously, by playing game-by-game, United can take it slowly while they get back into Champions League. Each player will have to step up and United cannot afford any more injuries, but nothing is guaranteed. But how can United do this?

United can win Europa League and get top four in the Premier League by focusing on the Premier League more than Europa League. Celta Vigo is a good side but if Mourinho puts out the right squad for each leg of the semifinal, United can win both matches and advance to the final against either Ajax or Lyon. United plays Swansea the weekend before the first leg. A weaker United side can still beat Swansea, and Mourinho should take that risk so that United is ready to go for the Celta Vigo match. A strong first leg is what will send United to the final. The problem comes with the second leg, which is four days after United plays Arsenal in the Premier League and three days before a match against Tottenham. With a successful first leg, United can coast through the second leg and still play strong squads against both North London clubs. It is not out of reach and if United can get through those matches without much damage against the Red Devils, United can come out with a Europa League title and a top four finish to secure the club’s spot in the Champions League.

Written by Shawn Medow


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