Predicted XI: [4-2-3-1] Hojlund to fire United against Fulham? Mainoo to keep his place? Amrabat at left-back? Amass in the squad?

Could talented youth players bolster this United squad for the remainder of the season?

Manchester United welcome Fulham to Old Trafford in the Premier League on Saturday afternoon in a traditional 3pm kick off. Erik ten Hag will be seeking to continue United’s unbeaten run of 2024 with six wins and one draw since the turn of the New Year. United seem to be in better form.

Fulham have not had a good season but have also not had a bad season. At the time of writing, they sit in 12th place in the league with 29 points. United sit in sixth place with 44 points, just five points short of fourth-placed Aston Villa with United needing top four this season.

This will be the first match after Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s partial takeover of the club, so will be a big occasion at the Theatre of Dreams, which could well be getting a facelift with the area subject to significant redevelopment, which was announced recently. A good era to begin now?

Predicted Manchester United Starting XI – 4-2-3-1

Onana;

Dalot, Varane, Maguire, Amrabat;

Casemiro, Mainoo;

Garnacho, Fernandes, Rashford;

Hojlund

Goalkeeper: Onana

Andre Onana has endured a positive and negative season for United. He has conceded 52 goals in all competitions for the club so far, which is a dire level of performance but he has seven clean sheets in the Premier League – just one short of the top spot in that category.

His errors which have led to goals have been amateur at best, which questions why the goalkeeper was brought to the club this season and his distribution has not been great either. But in his defence, the defence has changed near enough every match, which has led to problems because of injury.

I am sure that Onana will settle at the club and try to resolve the errors that he has made, although they look set to continue for the foreseeable future, maybe longer. Altay Bayindir will need to be tested again this season and maybe he can challenge the Cameroonian goalkeeper?

Defenders: Dalot, Varane, Maguire, Amrabat

United’s defence has not really had a settled back four this season with many injuries in this area of the squad, amongst others. Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Lisandro Martinez, Luke Shaw and Tyrell Malacia are all out injured at this time, which is a major blow for Ten Hag and United.

Against Fulham, I think Diogo Dalot will stay on the right-back position, as he could have been over to the left-back role with Shaw being out again. But it will weaken the right-back area. Raphael Varane and Harry Maguire will continue to partner in the centre of the defence.

In left-back, bringing in Sofyan Amrabat has played four matches at left-back for United this season and with few options in that position due to injury, it is the best options at this stage. United have Victor Lindelof and Jonny Evans on the bench, should they be required.

Midfield: Casemiro, Mainoo

United’s midfield is a talented bunch with experience and youth at the heart of it, which is what needs to be seen as a club like United with the history that it has. Casemiro and Kobbie Mainoo have been doing well in the centre of the midfield at this stage of the season.

Granted, injuries have pushed Mainoo into a starting position, but he has never looked like he does not belong there. Casemiro has four goals and two assists this season with Mainoo having just two goals so far this season, so there is positivity in this area.

United have many options in the midfield with Christian Eriksen and Scott McTominay likely to be on the bench to step in if the need arises. Sofyan Amrabat would also be in contention in this area but he started his period at United at left-back and could be an option there again.

Attacking Midfield: Garnacho, Fernandes, Rashford

The attacking line behind the striker has become a positive area for United this season. Alejandro Garnacho has seven goals and three assists this season. Bruno Fernandes has seven goals and seven assists and Marcus Rashford have five goals and six assists. It has got better.

The trio should be starting against Fulham as at this stage of the season, and in 2024 with an undefeated record, this is the best option Ten Hag has right now. Yes he has options but that is something that can le left to be utilised with United have a week’s rest between matches.

Garnacho will be seeking to get more goals as he starts to prove himself with what will be a difficult season next season likely to test him. Fernandes is a player that has continued to do his thing on the pitch and is getting better. Rashford needs improvement severely and links to PSG could solve that.

Forward: Hojlund

Rasmus Hojlund has scored eight goals (13 this season) and two assists in his last seven matches for United, which are not consecutive as he was ill for the defeat to Nottingham Forest in December 2023. It is a great feat for the young Danish striker who had risen in stature at United this season.

The 21-year-old has really shown his ability leading the line for United and given the supporters something to be excited about with his constant attacking and hunger for the goals. His season did not start as well with him only scoring in the UEFA Champions League but he got there.

United do not have an understudy for the striker role at this time with Anthony Martial on the sidelines once again, which has been too familiar and Marcus Rashford much better on the left-wing. Ethan Wheatley could be a player to step into the limelight if he’s deemed ready for it.

Substitutes: Bayindir; Lindelof, Evans; Eriksen, McTominay, Williams; Amad, Antony, Wheatley

United should have nine players on the bench against Fulham on Saturday. Ten Hag may need to bring in some talented youth players in the attacking ranks to add something else on the bench. Altay Bayindir will remain on the bench in the goalkeeper role though.

In defence, United are considerably weak with Tyrell Malacia, Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Luke Shaw all out so United could be left with Victor Lindelof and Jonny Evans in this area, unless youth are brought in. Christian Eriksen, Scott McTominay and Ethan Williams could be midfield options.

In attack, United have some good options with Amad Diallo, Anthony. and with the likes of Anthony Martial out of action for much of the rest of the season, bringing in a new face such as Ethan Wheatley could be a good move from Ten Hag with a view to the future in the new era.

Written by Paul

Avatar photo
About editor 2114 Articles
I support Manchester United, the greatest English football team to have ever existed. Bruno Fernandes is the latest in a long line of players with great ability to play for the club. I idolised Bryan Robson, David Beckham, Paul Scholes, and Eric Cantona growing up.