Manchester United will be pitted against Premier League team Crystal Palace at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Tuesday in what will be their third pre-season match of the summer. Erik ten Hag’s side have a 100% record in the first two matches, winning 4-0 and 4-1.
It will be time for Ten Hag to start selecting the players that will form the majority of the starting places in the early stages of the season with those experienced players already showing their form and their abilities in the new style of play.
The Dutch manager will be pushing his players in the remaining matches with United yet to play Aston Villa in Perth, Atletico Madrid in Oslo and Rayo Vallecano in Manchester before the end of the month. That should be enough matches to get the style of play perfected ready for the season.
With new additions Cristian Eriksen and Lisandro Martinez yet to be implemented into the squad, which will happen after the touring squad has returned from Australia. Perhaps they will be seen in the last two fixtures, which will be played just under 26 hours apart.
Predicted Manchester United Starting XI – 4-2-3-1
Dalot, Bailly, Maguire, Shaw;
Sancho, Fernandes, Rashford;
Goalkeeper: David De Gea
David De Gea should be back in goal for the Palace match. He missed the last one because of the slight injury he sustained against Liverpool. He has trained in the last few days, so should be back in action. United will require him back so he can adapt to the new style of play.
I feel he did well against Liverpool and his distribution improved, which was good to see. United could have done with that over the past five or six seasons, with would have helped to improve the team. It shows that things can change even with older players.
Perhaps De Gea will be seeking to get 90 minutes under his belt this summer with Tom Heaton playing 90 minutes in the match match and replacing De Gea against Liverpool. The Spanish goalkeeper will need to reach that period of fitness, which I am sure will not be a problem.
Defenders: Diogo Dalot, Eric Bailly, Harry Maguire, Luke Shaw
The defence is a work in progress this summer. The left-back position will be held by Luke Shaw with Diogo Dalot at right-back. It is the central players that pose a problem at this stage of the summer. Victor Lindelof was flustered against Melbourne Victory and should be dropped.
Harry Maguire played his first minutes of the tour this summer, needing more on the pitch to try and find his form again following a poor season at the club. With Lisandro Martinez coming him, he could well lose his place to the Argentinian, or at least play on the right on the central two.
Eric Bailly could well stake a claim for a first team place despite the rumours suggesting that he could be sold this summer. He has so far done well, launching an attack against Liverpool and getting an assist in the last match.
Midfielders: James Garner, Fred
There are some bright players in these positions on this pre-season tour and there could well be some youth players finding themselves with some minutes in the first team in the upcoming season. In this match, I feel there will be some changes from the last two matches.
Now that he is fit again, James Garner could start alongside Fred, which could test his ability against a Premier League club ahead of the new season. With Christian Eriksen signed and possibly Frenkie de Jong arriving in the summer, Garner may not play regularly this season.
He will be one for the future though. A Premier League loan could be the best for him with him playing regularly and possibly putting pressure on a teammate in a year’s time. Fred has played well this summer so far, having one goal to his name from the Liverpool match.
Attacking Midfield: Jadon Sancho, Bruno Fernandes, Marcus Rashford
These positions will be occupied by the talent in this squad this summer. I feel all three of Jadon Sancho, Bruno Fernandes and Marcus Rashford will be ready to play 60 minutes against Palace with just one more match of this leg of pre-season to go.
Rashford and Sancho have scored so far this summer with Fernandes playing well against both Liverpool and Melbourne Victory. He will be seeking to find that elusive goal though, which would kickstart his early form at United once again.
It would be good to see Facundo Pellistri, Donny van de Beek and Alejandro Garnacho in the second half of the match with the Dutchman needing to prove himself and Garnacho needing his first minutes under his belt of this pre-season tour.
Forward: Anthony Martial
Anthony Martial has 90 minutes under his belt so far this summer, scoring two goals in the two matches played. He seems to be hungry and ready for the challenge under Ten Hag this summer, which could bode well ahead of the Premier League season starting.
The rumours surrounding Cristiano Ronaldo’s impending exit from the Old Trafford club could really benefit him this summer, but United may need to delve into the transfer market for another striker. Or Ten Hag could decide that he has enough firepower in his squad this summer.
One thing is for sure though, Martial could well have seen his spark reignited which would be good news for United because his talent is unquestionable – it was his attitude that has led to supporters of the club questioning whether he is the player United should continue to give opportunity to.
Tom Heaton played 90 minutes against Melbourne Victory so I would assume that De Gea could do the same against Palace. If not, Heaton, Nathan Bishop and Matej Kovar will be available should a change be needed. Would expect there will be many substitutes once again in this match.
Defensively, Ten Hag will have Victor Lindelof, Tyrell Malacia, Raphael Varane, Alex Telles, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Axel Tuanzebe, Will Fish and Ethan Laird to utilise at whatever point he decides to make the substitutions – perhaps on the hour mark for this match?
The midfield and attacking midfield positions could see Amad Diallo, Facundo Pellistri, Donny van de Beek, James Garner, Scott McTominay, Hannibal Mejbri, Charlie Savage and Zidane Iqbal available to play at some point in the match. Just two players here have not featured yet.
In attack, Anthony Elanga, Tahith Chong and Alejandro Garnacho could get some vital minutes under their belts this summer. Garnacho has not yet featured this summer and could find himself on the pitch at some point, providing Ten Hag feels he is ready for the occasion.
Written by John Walker