What We Learned: Carrick’s successor, squad depth and winning mentality

Manchester United knocked Reading out of the Emirates FA Cup scoring four goals which started with Wayne Rooney scored his 249th goal for the Red Devils. Anthony Martial doubled United’s lead just eight minutes later, with United dominating the match entirely. Marcus Rashford’s brace saw United win the match 4-0, but they could have easily scored many more goals, especially in the first half. United are now on a 14 match unbeaten run, winning their last eight matches, of which six were in the Premier League. Tuesday’s visit of Hull City in the EFL Cup and then the visit of Liverpool in the Premier League a week on Sunday will be long-awaited fixtures as United will be looking to make their unbeaten run to 16 matches, and their winning run to ten.

Manchester United have squad depth

Jose Mourinho made nine changes from the side which beat West Ham United on Monday with only Michael Carrick and Marcos Rojo. United have the players to be able to rotate when needed, which is good for the remainder of the season with United the only team in the Premier League fighting on all four fronts at this moment in time. United have another match to play this month, which will turn into the busiest month of the season so far and have the players to ensure his side can prevail, Mourinho will continue to be happy. Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford both impressed today and the manager will have a headache over the next two matches, seemingly with both making a statement which could see them in contention to face Liverpool in a weeks time. The defence might be where problems lie, though. United managed to dispatch Reading without utilising Paul Pogba, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Zlatan Ibrahimovic, keeping them all fresh for the visit of Hull City, or even Liverpool.

Defence is solid but not able to avoid injuries

Manchester United this season have been boosted with the form of their defenders with Eric Bailly resurgent following his move from Villarreal, also Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo’s partnership, which has seen the club come through a turbulent time with both Bailly and Chris Smalling on the sidelines through injury at the time. Bailly has not left United to play in the African Cup of Nations this month, which may not see him return until February. The injury sustained by Rojo against Reading early on has been described as a muscle injury, which could see him out for a while. That leaves United with two defenders out of action, meaning Daley Blind may have to become a stand-in central defender once more, or United need to act in the transfer market with Victor Lindelof’s proposed move still being touted in the Portuguese media. United have Smalling and Jones, who can do a job, but another injury between the two would see United in a predicament they would probably not want to be in.

Michael Carrick’s replacement could already be at the club

Michael Carrick is a player who has seen United win the majority of the time he has played. At 35, he is not going to last forever. Many words have been written about Carrick’s replacement, with many thinking about a like-for-like, but there not being many contenders out there. Looking back, Carrick was the best replacement to Roy Keane, coming a year after the Irishman left the club. Carrick was not a Keane type player but was allowed to make his role his own, which he has done. United will need to let Carrick’s successor do, as you will not be able to plug the Carrick sized hole otherwise. Timothy Fosu-Mensah is a player that has a big future at United. He stated that he wants to play in midfield with Paul Pogba, but will probably have to settle with Ander Herrera, with Pogba playing a further forward role. Fosu-Mensah replaced Carrick against Reading and did well in the time he played. The Dutchman could very much be the one who succeeds Carrick at the club. He made ten appearances last season, all in the right-back role, a role he does not want to cement himself into, therefore he should not play there. Having him in midfield could bode well for the future, but he needs more time on the pitch in order to better himself. He’s training with his teammates daily, but playing matches is where he will find his feet.


Manchester United are into the fourth round of the Emirates FA Cup, adding another match to an already busy January fixture list. Fighting on all four fronts this season, the only club in the Premier League to be doing that at this stage, which suggests things are going right at the Theatre of Dreams, despite whet the ABU media and clueless opposition supporters, who all seem to want to believe that Manchester United are still stuttering after the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson three and a half years ago now. It is good to have a belief, but when that belief is being shown up, that is when you start worrying, just like they are doing. In a few weeks time, United will either still be on their winning/unbeaten run, or it will have ended. If it is the former, United’s rivals will need to start worrying.

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