Manchester United are back in Premier League action at Old Trafford on Monday evening. Erik ten Hag has so far made three additions to his squad in the form of goalkeeper Andre Onana, midfielder Mason Mount and striker Rasmus Hojlund. There have been some departures from the club too with David De Gea, Phil Jones, Axel Tuanzebe, Alex Telles, Fred, Zidane Iqbal, Charlie Savage and Anthony Elanga have all left the club with more to follow.
United will be seeking to start strongly in the Premier League this season with an eye to mounting a title challenge, which might come too early for Ten Hag’s side. United lifted the Carabao Cup last season also reaching the final of the Emirates FA Cup, but were defeated by rivals Manchester City. Ten Hag will be seeking to create something with this United team he has built with the aim of adding more silverware this season – which is a distinct possibility.
Wolves recently sacked their manager, Julen Lopetegui who was at the club for about nine months, hiring former Bournemouth manager Gary O’Neil – so United will face another team with the new manager bounce, which happened so often last season. Wolves finished 13th in the league last season with United finishing third. Both teams will be seeking to do so much better this season but Wolves will need to find some kind of stability to do that, in my opinion.
Predicted Manchester United Starting XI – 4-2-3-1
Wan-Bissaka, Varane, Martinez, Shaw;
Antony, Fernandes, Garnacho;
The goalkeeper from Cameroon has worked with Erik ten Hag at Ajax before he left for Inter Milan, leaving the club this summer to reunite with the Dutch manager. A goalkeeper that plays the ball from the back, a Ten Hag intends may cause some heartburn for United supporters this season but United will be seeking to play a pressing game with distribution from the goalkeeper better than last season with the 27-year-old replacing David de Gea.
Ten Hag wants the best for United and with Onana, a player he has worked with before, he knows what he can get from the player and what his limits are. This should be an interesting match for United against Wolves, which could see just how United intend to break the problems of last season and correct them. Granted, with the defence United have and now the midfield and attack, this is going to be a much different United gracing the pitches of the Premier League.
Omana is a professional and different to what United have had for the past 12 years. He’s a player that United supporters will start to trust and praise with the club doing what they need to be doing and playing the way the manager wants. This new United squad excites me as the first match of the season comes closer to the horizon. United will be resurgent in attack and aiming to close down opposition by pressing deep in their half. This could be good for United.
Defenders: Wan-Bissaka, Varane, Martinez, Shaw
United’s defence should be back to its strength with Lisandro Martinez now back from the injury that ruled him out at the end of last season. The prospective departure of Harry Maguire will also give United some relief as his performances fell short of what were needed from the player. It could be great for United, especially with another new face joining the club in defence. Not to mention the departure of Alex Telles plus Eric Bailly’s departure likely to be confirmed.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Luke Shaw should start in the fullback roles. Both excelled last season and both will be seeking the same from this season with United playing from the back more and more now that a capable goalkeeper in that particular tactic has been recruited. The English fullbacks are both in great form and seeking to shine this season. The have competition though with Diogo Dalot, Tyrell Malacia and Alvaro Fernandez hungry for minutes.
In the centre of the defence, Raphael Varane and Lisandro Martinez should both start. The Rolls Royce of defending could be great for United this season, but if a new face joins the club before the closure of the transfer window, it could be Varane who is benched with Ten Hag also looking for a long-term replacement for the Frenchman, who retired from international football at the end of last season. United are in a strong position in the defence this season.
Midfield: Casemiro, Mount
The midfield has been significantly improved this summer. The arrival of Mason Mount has added a player who can play in four or five different positions, adding some quality at the same time. It is possible that other player joins the club this summer after the departure of Fred is imminent plus the future of Donny van de Beek not being so secure at the club. Scott McTominay is also a wanted man but it seems likely, at this moment in time, that he stays.
Against Wolves, I expect to see Mount make his Premier League debut for United. The player has seemed exciting in pre-season and will be seeking to score or provide an assist as soon as he finds his feet at the club, which looks like it is happening. As United gain their ground, they will play so much better having different players to call on for different aspects of the season – because not every match is going to be the same. Interesting stuff ahead.
Casemiro should also start alongside Mount as he is the best defensive minded midfielder at the club at this time. His partnership with Christian Eriksen was a positive last season but suspension and injury curtailed that at an important stage of the season. United will prosper in the midfield this season with the players that have – not to mention new additions if they end up arriving at the club before the closure of the summer transfer window on the 1st September.
Attacking Midfield: Antony, Fernandes, Garnacho
United have a decent attacking midfield with many different options, although some of those options are out of action at this time. United can also utilise Mason Mount in these positions but it is likely that for the moment, he will partner Casemiro in the centre of the midfield. It will be good that United have many options throughout the season as many matches will be played – especially if United are still in four competitions come the turn of 2024.
Antony should start on the right-wing for United. He was a great attacker last season with the eye for scoring goals. However, it did not always work in his favour. In pre-season, Antony played well and got involved in attacks, which was all we need him to do. Alejandro Garnacho should start on the left-wing. His rise to the first team last season was meteoric and showed his potential. His pace an ability to cut in from the left with help United massively.
Bruno Fernandes has become the captain of the club, which is a great honour. He’s a decent player for the club despite some who think Paul Pogba was much better. Perhaps we compare the two players and the level they play at today? Fernandes will start most matches this season as his injury record is slight. He will need to be rotated which is where the liked of Mount, Eriksen, Hannibal etc come in. United have a talented squat with lost of prospect.
Marcus Rashford scored 30 goals for United last season and will be seeking to make that mark in goals again this season. At this moment in time he will need to be the main striker, unless Jadon Sancho is going to play up top until Rasmus Hojlund is fit to start for the Old Trafford club. Rashford is a professional and will be aided by Mount at the club this season. Rashford can find the goals needed for United to win matches but they will come from other areas too.
Ten Hag will be seeking for his forward to make a mark against Wolves as United look to take all three points from the match on Monday evening. United were not so good in their first Premier League match last season, losing to Brighton and Hove Albion. This season will need to be different as United look to take on the might of Manchester City and Arsenal to content for the Premiwer League crown this season – a long time coming for United.
Rashford might be better playing on the left-wing but with injury to both Hojlund and Anthony Martial, there are no other options for United. Of course, the manager could make major changes to his side ahead of the visit of Wolves which could surprise the Old Trafford faithful in the run up to the match. But based on the players available and their strengths, I think it will be Rashford who is leading the line at the Theatre of Dreams with Wolves ready to compete.
Substitutes: Mastny; Lindelof, Dalot, Fernandez; Eriksen, Pellistri, McTominay; Sancho
United will have nine players on the bench against Wolves in the Premier League on Monday evening at Old Trafford. Ten Hag has some injury concerns, especially to goalkeeping area with only Andre Onana available and Tom Heaton, Dean Henderson and Radek Vitek unavailable due to injury. Matej Kovar is linked to an Old Trafford exit too, so I think that will rule him out on Monday night too. In which case, Ondrej Mastny could be on the bench for United.
In defence, Harry Maguire is set for a move to West Ham United which could be completed before United kick a ball on Monday evening. However, Ten Hag has said he’s available for this match which is likely to add pressure to the player and the Hammers to get the deal done. In which case, Victor Lindelof, Diogo Dalot and Alvaro Fernandez could all be on the bench against Wolves. United do have many defensive players at this stage of the season.
In the midfield, Christian Eriksen, Facundo Pellistri and Scott McTominay could all be on the bench against Wolves. Donny van de Beek could also be available but he could also be leaving the Old Trafford club this summer. In attack, Jadon Sancho could the only forward on the bench against Wolves, which leaves United a bit short. However, United will do what they need to do, possibly changing positions for starting players, which is a good option for them.
Written by John Walker