Manchester United welcome Brentford at Old Trafford in the Premier League on Monday evening. It is the final home match of the season for United and it will be a match that many players will be saying their goodbyes to the supporters of the club.
United have been in terrible form this season and in recent weeks, it is something that demonstrates that this squad of players is not working as well as it should, signalling that a change needs to come in the squad under the management of Erik ten Hag from this summer.
Ralf Rangnick has done a brilliant job exposing the problems at the club and his role as a consultant after his management stint ends should be good to continue the rebuild, which needs to be done properly now, not by throwing money at players uncommitted to the club.
This has been the case for almost a decade now and United, despite a few runner-up finishes, has not challenged for the Premier League title, which is a must from now on. Brentford will be up for the challenge of upsetting United in their final match of the season – that is a definite.
Previous meetings with Brentford and their connections with United.
United and Brentford have met once in the Premier League. United won that match. United have scored three goals, winning no penalties. Brentford have scored one goal, winning no penalties. This is a very new rivalry with the club reaching the Premier League this season.
United have kept no clean sheets with Brentford keeping none. Discipline has not been an issue with no bookings at this stage for either club. United may be seeking to get something against Brentford in this match, seeking to end their season on a high after some poor results in the past few months.
Joshua Bohui is perhaps the only player to have played for both Brentford and United, although this was at youth level. The forward came through the ranks at Brentford signing from the Evolution Sports & Health Academy in 2011, signing for United in 2016.
Max Haygarth is the only other player who has played for both clubs. Haygarth is currently at Brentford B, leaving United’s academy last summer. It is early days for links between these clubs – there could be more links in the future, which would be good to see.
Here is my predicted starting XI to face Brentford in the Premier League at Old Trafford on Monday evening…
Goalkeeper: David De Gea
David De Gea stepped up to the plate against Chelsea and should keep his place against Brentford on Monday evening. United should be looking to win their final home match of the season which will also see the end of some players time at the club, at least in front of home supporters.
The Spanish goalkeeper is clearly the player that has been working hard all season trying to get things turned around. With Erik ten Hag coming in the summer, it is clear that there will be a shake up at the club and De Gea wants to be a part of the future of the club.
Whether it happens like that remains to be seen but De Gea is certainly the best goalkeeper at the club. Dean Henderson’s rise to the top has stuttered and could come through if he impresses the incoming manager more than De Gea. United’s future could be interesting.
Defenders: Diogo Dalot, Victor Lindelof, Raphaël Varane, Álvaro Fernández
The defence requires a lot of work this summer and there looks to be new faces being linked to the club with at least a right-back, left-back and centre-back amongst the options. That could be good news for some and bad news for others. I can’t say I would be sorry to see players leave.
I believe that Diogo Dalot should keep his place in the right-back position and I would love to see Alvaro Fernández start in the left-back position. I would presume that Alex Telles would start in that position though but the 19-year-old could get himself into Tan Hag’s plans.
With Harry Maguire still likely to be on the sidelines, possibly not playing for the remainder of the season again, it would seem clear that Victor Lindelöf and Raphaël Varane will start in the centre of the defence, which is the best option right now – Phil Jones could step in for one of them though.
Midfield: Scott McTominay, Hannibal Mejbri, Bruno Fernandes
United’s midfield requires some work ahead of the new season. It just has not worked out with the likes of Paul Pogba in the squad. I struggle to count ten separate occasions that the Frenchman has risen to the occasion. United are weak in this area and the creativity should be much better.
Scott McTominay should start, despite a poor appearance against Chelsea. He still has a lot in his locker and puts in a lot of effort, something which lacks amongst some of his teammates. Hannibal Mejbri should start, if he does not play for the U23’s on Sunday.
Bruno Fernandes will most likely keep his place because of the lack of depth in the midfield at this stage of the season. His performances need to increase for him to continue to be picked to play for this club. One man does not make a team but one not performing helps break that team.
Forwards: Anthony Elanga, Cristiano Ronaldo, Jesse Lingard
Cristiano Ronaldo has saved the club this season and at 37 years old, it should be something that embarrasses his teammates. Most of them do not deserve to be in the same locker room, let alone team. With 23 goals this season, scoring eight goals in his last five Premier League appearances.
Anthony Elanga also deserves to keep his place in the team. Marcus Rashford has not pulled his weight this season and it does not seem to be getting much better for him. Elanga is a top young player and could excel in the not too distant future.
Jesse Lingard could play on the left-wing role, providing he is over what kept him out against Chelsea. He wold be better than Rashford and with Jadon Sancho out, the only other option would be to play youth. Alejandro Garnacho made his debut against Chelsea, so that could work.
Substitutes: Dean Henderson; Phil Jones, Alex Telles; Juan Mata, Nemanja Matić, Charlie Savage; Marcus Rashford, Shola Shoretire, Alejandro Garnacho
The players picked for the bench need to be able to offer something. The season is effectively over for United – UEFA Champions League football seems to be gone but Europa League or Europa Conference League is still there, not that anyone wants either.
Dean Henderson will remain on the bench once again. In defence, Phil Jones and Alex Telles could be called upon. Juan Mata and Nemanja Matić could say their goodbyes to the Old Trafford faithful with Charle Savage possibly making an inclusion in midfield.
In attack, with United light in numbers, Marcus Rashford, Shola Shoretire and Alejandro Garnacho could all make the bench. With Edinson Cavani in with a small chance of making this match, perhaps he could make the bench to say his goodbyes ahead of his departure this summer?
Written by John Walker