Lukaku in – Manchester United’s strongest possible 4-3-3 XI vs Bournemouth

By Dave Marshall
Premier League giants Manchester United travel to the Vitality Stadium on Saturday to take on high flying Bournemouth in a game that promises to be full of excitement. The Cherries have performed beyond expectations so far this season and are currently placed sixth in the league table, with Man United three points and two places below them.
With their current form, the South Coast outfit are a very tough side to beat and Eddie Howe may fancy his team’s chances of delivering an upset against a Man United side that are slowly getting back to their best after an early-season slump. We take a look at United’s predicted lineup for the lunchtime kickoff on the South Coast.
Goalkeeper
David De Gea has kept only one clean sheet in 10 league matches this season but that doesn’t take anything away from his undoubted quality. The Spaniard has not been at his brilliant best this campaign but he remains one of best stoppers in the division.
Defence
Luke Shaw has appeared resilient at the back since the start of the season and should continue barring any last minute injury. The England International has turned his United career around and is now labelled as the undisputed first choice left back under Jose Mourinho. On the opposite flank, Ashley Young continues to make a mockery of his doubters with a series of fine displays down the right. In the heart of the defence, the burgeoning and ever-improving partnership between Chris Smalling and Victor Lindelof will be hoping to repel the forays of the Bournemouth attack and impress Mourinho.
Midfield
Brazilian international Fred is expected to retain his place in the middle of the park. The industrious and tenacious midfielder has only impressed in spurts since his summer arrival but he will be keen to show his quality. Alongside him should be the pair of Nemanja Matic and Paul Pogba. The duo are slowly starting to get back to their fine form and they are likely to play a crucial role if United are to get a positive result on Saturday.
Attack
Anthony Martial is in the form of his life, having netted four goals in his last three matches and should get to play on the left of a three-pronged attack. Having impressed in the game against Everton, Juan Mata is expected to retain his place, while Romelu Lukaku should come in for this one after failing to start the game with his former side last time out.
The big Belgian is in the middle of his longest goal drought since joining United, and was taken out of the spotlight by Mourinho last week in the wake of heavy criticism.
Man United Predicted XI v Bournemouth
Probable lineup: De Gea, Shaw, Smalling, Lindelof, Young; Matic, Fred, Pogba; Martial, Mata, Lukaku.

Rashford out – Manchester United’s strongest possible 4-3-3 XI vs Chelsea

By Dave Marshall
Following the international break, the focus turns back to Manchester United, who travel to Stamford Bridge on Saturday to face Chelsea. The Blues are on a high at the moment and will be looking to cast more misery on Jose Mourinho, who was once a West London favorite. The Portuguese manager is under immense pressure at Old Trafford and will be looking to remind everyone of his brilliance against his former side, who have looked very impressive under the new management of Maurizio Sarri.
United won against Newcastle last time out at Old Trafford and will be looking to kickstart their season with a result at a stadium where they have struggled in recent years. We take a look at the 11 players that may be tasked with the responsibility of bringing Chelsea back down to earth.
Goalkeeper
David De Gea has not been at his inspirational best this term, though the inconsistency of the defenders in Man United’s backline has affected him to a great extent. But one can hardly argue that on his day, he remains the best shot stopper in the Premier League.
Defence
Luke Shaw is expected to feature after missing the international games with England. The left back is likely to be flanked on the other side of defence by Ashley Young, who continues to defy the odds even at 33. In the heart of the defence, Chris Smalling and Victor Lindelof will be looking to build on their burgeoning relationship at the back but will need to be at the top of their game to repel Chelsea’s impressive attack.
Midfield
Nemanja Matic remains a big doubt for the game against his former side but Mourinho may call on Marouane Fellaini to add physicality against Chelsea and do a good job on Jorginho, the Italian orchestrator of the Blues midfield. Paul Pogba and Brazilian International Fred are well expected to be deployed in the middle of the park as they offer a good mix of physicality, panache and creativity.
Attack
Jose Mourinho is poised to name an attacking trident for the lunchtime kickoff at the Bridge. On the left side of attack, Alexis Sanchez should get the start to build on his recent upturn in form that saw him score the winner against Newcastle. On the right, Anthony Martial should get the nod ahead of Marcus Rashford while Romelu Lukaku will be looking to score his first goal at Stamford Bridge against his former side.
Probable lineup: De Gea, Young, Lindelof, Smalling, Shaw; Fellaini, Fred, Pogba; Sanchez, Martial, Lukaku.

It’s time to place Alexis Sanchez on the bench

By Mark Weasley
When Alexis Sanchez arrived at Old Trafford in January, he was supposed to be the answer to the attacking players at Manchester City. Given the fact that United had beaten the Citizens to his signing, it felt like the turning point as it meant United still had the pulling power to attract the best players in world football. Nine months later, the Sanchez that Manchester United thought they were getting has still not shown up.
He has been poor, atrocious and every word that describes a person not living up to expectations. He has just 3 strikes in 23 matches for Manchester United, a poor return for a player that earns around £350-a-week, he should be doing better.
Alexis Sanchez
It is perhaps time that Jose Mourinho, the man in the dugout takes the bold decision of placing the Chilean on the bench. Since the start of the season, he has endured with the player, who has shown nowhere near the quality that saw him score 30 times for Arsenal in 2017.
He loses possession too many times and generally looks like a man who is not interested in playing anymore, just content with picking his fat paycheck. Perhaps the style of play and lack of understanding is affecting his form, but his dip in form for a player that was held in the same bracket as Eden Hazard as the best wideman in the Premier League is unbelievable.
A time out on the bench will do two things: get him to fall in love with the game once again and take him out of the firing line from his critics.
When he comes back, he should be firing on all cylinders but he needs to rediscover his form. Jose Mourinho must be brave or Alexis Sanchez will keep wallowing in mediocrity.

The rise and fall – and rise again – of Luke Shaw

The £30 million that Manchester United paid for Luke Shaw started to look like a colossal waste of money at the end of the 2016 / 17 season. After being touted as a future England star after a successful start to his career at Southampton, United swooped in with a view to making Shaw into a world-class left back.
Shaw began life in Southampton’s academy at the age of 8, and by 15 was playing in Southampton’s under 18 side. After his senior appearances Shaw was soon attracting the likes of Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester City, with then-manager Nigel Adkins trying his best to keep hold of the wonderkid. When United came calling with a then world record fee for a teenager, even the most pessimistic of Southampton fans couldn’t argue against Shaw’s decision.
Shaw had an average to good first season in Manchester, which saw him appear 16 times in the leage in 2014 / 15. However, his career was halted dead by a double leg fracture in a Champion’s League against PSV in 2015, when Hector Moreno slid in in a poor challenge. Shaw recently revealed that he almost lost his leg in the incident, and was sidelined for the rest of the season.
After a long recovery period, Shaw returned to competitive football, playing in the community shield at the start of the 2016/17 season. Despite being back to full fitness, manager Jose Mourinho decided he was worthy of only 11 league appearances and 4 cup games, many as a substitute. Mud slinging about Shaw’s unhealthy lifestyle and Mourinho’s penchant for abandoning promising youngsters went back and forth, and it looked like Shaw’s United career would come to an end. In March of this year, the total deterioration of the player / manager relationship looked to be complete, with fellow players expressing shock at just how poorly Mourinho was treating his player.

So when Shaw didn’t leave the club in the summer, many fans and pundits were shocked that Mourinho was willing to keep hold of a young player who he had publicly denounced as ‘lazy and overweight’. Nevertheless, Shaw was given a start at left-back for the season opener against Leicester City, and he certainly didn’t disappoint.
Looking like an entirely new player, Shaw provided options in both attack and defence, before scoring his first senior goal at United with an excellent solo effort. The comeback hasn’t been short-lived either, with Shaw starting in every other Premier League game so far this season. It wouldn’t be unfair to suggest that Shaw has been one of the only bright lights of a miserable season so far for Manchester United. Their poor start has seen betting sites all but rule them out of winning the title.
With something of a renaissance under a manager who isn’t exactly supportive of unavailable players, or indeed anyone under the age of 28 in most instance, Shaw may have just managed to do something that many other young players who have crossed Mourinho have failed to do – get back on the team sheet. From Kevin de Bruyne to Mario Balotelli, Mourinho absolutely loves falling out with youngsters, so it’s quite something to see Luke Shaw becoming a first choice left back under his leadership.
His future seems solid at United now if he can keep up his form, but Shaw will have both eyes on England appearances moving forward. After missing an excellent World Cup, Shaw will want to be a big part of both Euro 2020 and World Cup 2022 and will be banging on Gareth Southgate’s door if he continues to maintain form. Whether he can stay fit and uninjured will remain his biggest challenge.

‘He is a disaster’, ‘dreadful’ – Man United fans rip into star’s performance vs Brighton

By Dave Marshall
Manchester United suffered the first defeat of the new season with a 3-2 loss to Brighton and Hove Albion at the AMEX stadium on Sunday evening, a game that put more spotlight on the manager and players alike.
United were extremely awful, played without grit, fight and commitment. Many of our players were very poor but fans reserved the most scathing criticism for Ivorian centreback, Eric Bailly, who looked awful in the game.
He was reckless, mistimed his tackles, didn’t hold the offside line well and was below par alongside Victor Lindelof, who was also atrocious in central defence. Here are some of the best tweets by United fans about his display.

LEAKED: Mourinho talking to Eric Bailly at half-time #mufc #afc #cfc #lfc #mcfc #thfc pic.twitter.com/LqW6drhfXb
— Urban Arsenal (@ArsenalUrban) August 19, 2018

Makes you wonder if Lindelof or Bailly were actually Mourinho signings? Or was it Woodward looking for value?
— LITTLE LEGS (@Ryan90MUFC) August 20, 2018

I still can't believe how BAD Bailly was yesterday. LOL #MUFC
— Robel Birhane (@robelbtareke) August 20, 2018

United fans slagged Smalling off last season even when our defence is second best in the league. Most preferred Bailly but the truth is that he is a disaster. He is too rash. #mufc
— Basil Ezimorah (@Basilezimorah) August 20, 2018

#Mufc played poor yesterday, not much to say about it. But two disastrous decisions by Lindelof and Bailly stood out and brought us down. We would’ve made it if it wasn’t for those…
— Ktorum (@KjellCaramell) August 20, 2018

I’m very disappointed with Bailly & Lindelof as a partnership, today. We are Manchester United and those two didnt offer any class or stability. I know they need time but we’re two games in and already chasing city. It’ll be interesting who starts next match against Kane #MUFC
— Man Utd Fanatic (@MUFCLeader) August 19, 2018

Bailly was dreadfull! Hope he gets dropped for the next few games. #MUFC
— LAMAR® (@URbAN_LEGENd213) August 19, 2018

I questioned #MUFC signing Bailly after watching him twice for Villarreal in 2016 and was shouted down. Well… honeymoon period appears to be over
— Kev Pogorzelski (@RabbitRabbitOn) August 19, 2018

Bailly, who many United fans say is the best defender at the club lacked positional awareness on many occasions in the game. He was dragged out for the first goal while he couldn’t recover sufficiently for the second.
Brighton’s third came as a result of another error by the former Villareal centreback, who launched and mistimed his tackle that ensured Brighton reopen their two-goal advantage. Bailly, alongside his other colleagues at the back offered nothing to show that they deserved to play for United.

It offered yet another proof that Jose Mourinho was right to prioritize the signing of a central defender this summer, though moves for Toby Alderweireld and Harry Maguire failed to materialize. With just two matches into the season, this campaign is starting to look more like last season where we ultimately failed to challenge Manchester City for the Premier League title.
Bailly is a centreback that was the very first signing of the Jose Mourinho era back in 2016, but has struggled to play regularly due to a series of injuries.

Ander Herrera wants to continue Manchester United adventure

Spanish midfielder, Ander Herrera has opened up on his United future amid talks about his future. The central midfielder, 29, joined United in the summer of 2014 and has quickly become a fans favourite, always showing commitment and passion anytime he is called upon to play.
The arrival of Brazilian international, Fred and the contract renewal of Marouane Fellaini, who is a personal favourite of Jose Mourinho has led to questions about the future of Herrera, but the player has stated his desire to remain at Old Trafford.
His contract runs out at the end of the campaign, though the club has an option to extend it by a further year. He wants to remain at the club as he says he is enjoying life in Manchester and that he lies the way he is treated by fans, the club hierarchy and teammates.
He enjoyed his best campaign in 2016/17 where he won the Matt Busby Player of the Year award for his performances throughout the season.
Speaking to Manutd.com, Herrera said, “All the memories I have are amazing,” I’ve been able to win trophies for the club. I have been able to play more than 160 games right now, so what I have in my mind is to go for the 200 games and keep adding games for the club and for myself.
“The way the club treats me is perfect. The love the fans show for me couldn’t be better or bigger, my family is happy in Manchester, so I will just try to give everything and use all my strength and effort to keep deserving to play for this club.” he added.
Herrera has made 161 appearances for United, winning the FA Cup, Europa League, League Cup and Community Shield.

Napoli confirm transfer talks with Man United, deal could happen this week

By Dave Marshall
Italian outfit, Napoli have confirmed that they are interested in Manchester United rightback, Matteo Darmian. The former Torino player is desperate to leave Old Trafford after falling down the pecking order under Jose Mourinho last term. He struggled to play last term, featuring just 8 times in the Premier League. He is ready for a move back to his native Italy, and it seems that Naples-based side are interested in signing him.

Partenopei boss, Carlo Ancelotti is a big admirer of the player though Napoli president, Aurelio De Laurentiis has stated that Darmian is not the only one on the radar to add more depth to the Napoli backline.
Speaking to Radio Kiss Kiss (h/t Goal) Napoli, De Laurentiis said, “It’s true that we asked for Darmian on loan with a right to buy,” “We are looking at six profiles,” he added. “There could also be Benjamin Henrichs from Bayer Leverkusen.”
Juventus and Inter Milan have been rumoured to be very keen on signing the player though Napoli have joined the race.
Darmian has already confirmed that he wants to leave the club with Jose Mourinho saying that he won’t stand in his way. Back in February, he stated that he would be interested in moving to any of Inter, Juventus and Napoli. He featured under Louis Van Gaal in 2015 after impressing in Serie A, but under Jose Mourinho, he has really struggled.
Since joining from Torino in 2015, Darmian has made 85 appearances for the Red Devils, but featured just eight times in the Premier League for Jose Mourinho’s team last term.

Opinion: Forget Ivan Perisic and Willian , Jose Mourinho already knows his right winger for next season

By Mark Weasley
Anthony Martial has been linked with an exit away from Old Trafford this summer but if the club and Jose Mourinho know what is good for us, he should be held with both hands and persuaded to stay.
At 22, what he needs is an arm around the shoulder. Jose Mourinho must know that his tough-love approach may not always work on modern footballers. With the Portuguese tactician interested in signing £60m-rated winger, Willian from Chelsea, United need to re-evaluate the pursuit of the Brazilian.
Why go for Willian, 29, when we have a younger and arguably more skillful player in Martial? Though he may not yet be consistent, Martial has the potential to be one of the best.
United had also been linked to the signing of Ivan Perisic from Inter Milan, but a move for the 30-year-old is also not being met with enthusiasm by the club hierarchy, who are not too sold on the idea of paying over the odds for a player that has maybe only 2 or 3 years left at the top of his game.
Martial is being courted by Premier League teams, though United are averse to selling him to a rival. Martial was phenomenal at the start of last season, scoring goals, dribbling and creating goals in equal measure. Overall, he averaged 112 minutes per goal or assist in the whole of the campaign. He had 9 goals and 5 assists in 30 league matches, of which only 18 were starts. The arrival of Alexis Sanchez in January limited his playing time on his preferred left attacking midfield position.
He should also learn to play on the right wing, and stake a claim for more first team action. He was shunted to the bench and even when Sanchez was off-colour, he was not still used. He had a passing accuracy of about 81.5%, 1. 4 dribbles per game and also had 1.6 shots per game.
Martial has just a year left on his deal, though United have a 12-month contract extension clause. United should give him a contract extension and help him get better.
It would be a great thing to see him shine at Old Trafford. He joined United in 2015 and has since scored 36 goals in 136 matches.

Man United receive triple injury blow ahead of Real Madrid game

By Dave Marshall
Manchester United have suffered a triple injury blow, ahead of Wednesday’s International Champions Cup game against Real Madrid.

Even before this news, Jose Mourinho has cut a frustrated figure as most of our key players are not back for pre-season while the club has refused to add more signings to the team.

Our problems haven’t been helped by a 4-1 defeat to bitter rivals, Liverpool on Saturday night in Ann Harbor in a game in which Nemanja Matic, Luke Shaw and Chris Smalling didn’t feature.

The latter pair had played in the previous games and were expected to feature against the Scousers while Matic was supposed to have a part after just arriving from holiday following his World Cup exertions.

Mourinho however has given updates on why the trio couldn’t play the game which, although only a pre-season match, some might say highlighted the disparity in the strength in depth of our team and that of Liverpool.

Matic has undergone surgery for an abdominal pain and will be out for the start of the Premier League season while Mourinho was a tad irritated by absence of Shaw and Smalling, claiming he doesn’t know when they will be back.

Speaking to reporters after the game, Mourinho said, “Smalling? I’ve no idea,” “Shaw? I’ve no idea. Matic had a surgery. Yes, of course [he is out for the start of the season].

“I don’t know,” Mourinho replied when asked when Matic would return. “He came from the World Cup with an injury and the time he had to rest in the holiday was not enough to resolve the problem” he added.

It has to be said, we have not been convincing this pre-season so far, playing out draws against Club America, San Jose Earthquakes and AC Milan prior to the humiliation by Liverpool. Let’s hope we click into gear quickly against Leicester.

Forget Harry Maguire, Man United launch £35m move for World Cup star

By Mark Weasley
Manchester United are preparing a stunning £35m move for Colombian international, Yerry Mina, according to reports from The Sun.
The Barcelona centre-back shone at the World Cup, scoring three goals and helping his team to the Round of 16.
With the transfer fee of Leicester defender, Harry Maguire being quoted as £80m, Jose Mourinho is reportedly turning attention to Mina, who will be a cheaper alternative to the England international.
The 6ft 5in powerhouse has been attracting interest in the Premier League with clubs like as Everton and Wolves reportedly making moves to bring the player to England. He is open to the possibility of leaving The Camp Nou following the arrival of Clement Lenglet. Mina struggled for game time in Barcelona last term and wants more playing time to aid his development.
The Blaugrana only signed him from Palmeiras in January, but he struggled to adapt to the style of play and was particularly atrocious in the 5-4 defeat to Levante, which ended Barcelona’s unbeaten run with just one match left to play. Mina rebuilt his reputation, being his country’s best player at the World Cup and earning plaudits for his prowess from setpieces.
Jose Mourinho wants a new centre-back, as he is not convinced with the trio of Lindelof, Jones and Smalling. He has been linked to the pair of Toby Alderweireld and Harry Maguire but moves for either one of them is proving difficult.
Mina is a centreback that has all the attributes of a Jose Mourinho defender: tall, powerful and good at aerial balls, which will make him a real threat from set pieces, as we saw in Russia.
If signed, he would be a valuable addition.