After the bitter ending to last season under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, many Manchester United fans were relieved and had the chance to get away from a terrible campaign to take a break from football.
That was never going to last, though, and with United back on their pre-season tour in Australia, the excitement has returned. Pessimism is still at a high among many groups of United supporters, but not even signings can restore the mood like the return of football, and particularly the chance to see some youngsters and new signings on the pitch for the first time.
READ MORE: Man Utd vs Perth Glory: Pre-season tour 2019 match preview, live stream, team news, prediction
Expect plenty of both against Perth Glory in Australia this Saturday, with a team resembling the following:
David de Gea
Even though the Spanish goalkeeper continues to see his contract winding down towards expiry, he does not seem to be linked with other clubs, to the extent where rumours of his extension seem to be more prevalent.
Expect de Gea to be United’s first-choice goalkeeper this season and hope he does not end up leaving on a free.
An excellent campaign last season for Crystal Palace earned the young English right-back a move to Manchester United. The 21-year-old put pen to paper for around £50 million, as per Transfermarkt, and adds defensive quality, youthfulness, and exuberance to a lethargic side.
Given the Ivorian’s struggles for fitness, and occasionally form, last season, it seems logical that Solskjaer will give him a chance to impress early doors this pre-season. Bailly has, in the past, demonstrated the quality to be a mainstay in United’s defence, but he will need to reach a higher level of fitness and consistency if he is to become a more significant member of United’s squad.
Speaking about the prospect of Tuanzebe playing on this pre-season tour, Solskjaer said, as per OneFootball:
“Hopefully, now Axel can get to the play-off final and play well. Obviously, he’s had a couple of injuries, but he’s a boy I can’t wait to see in pre-season for us.”
Solid pre-season displays from Bailly and Tuanzebe could calm the manager’s fears that he may not sign a marquee defender this summer.
Tuanzebe is a brilliant defender on the ground with great positioning and swift movement. Most of all, he is excellent with the ball at his feet, which allowed him to play in midfield a few times under Jose Mourinho.
Diogo Dalot is likely to play many roles this season, but left-back could be one of the less prevalent as Wan-Bissaka’s arrival enables Ashley Young to understudy Shaw at left-back.
Young is unlikely to be rushed back into pre-season after playing far too many matches for his own fitness and form last campaign, leaving the door open for Shaw to maintain his spot.
While Matic showed his fatigue late last season, Fred’s absence and the departures of Marouane Fellaini and Ander Herrera ensure a spot in United’s midfield for the Serbian.
Managing the number of matches he plays properly, Matic could be an asset to United. An elite defensive midfielder during his prime, the 30-year-old has experience winning the Premier League.
He adds leadership to the huge contingency of young players currently rising through the ranks at the club.
McTominay arguably enters pre-season as United’s best midfielder behind Paul Pogba after a series of classy displays that contradicted United’s dry patch in April and May.
He remains a few steps short of the Premier League’s elite midfielders, but with ability to play in holding or central midfield, and admirable commitment to both his personal fitness and the club, McTominay is likely to play many matches next season regardless of the rest of United’s summer business.
Rumours linking Paul Pogba away from the club are irrelevant as the Frenchman is still around and likely to be for another season. However, the Frenchman received a lengthy holiday after playing many matches last season, returning later for pre-season than many others.
Using this as an opportunity to try Mata in a central role would be a masterstroke from Solskjaer. While he is now firmly on the wrong side of 30, Mata has tremendous abilities to bring to the table and could benefit from 45 minutes in the role where he made his name at Chelsea, in a bid to revitalize his stalling career.
Drawing plenty of criticism for his conduct on social media after a dire season puts pressure on Lingard to perform instantly this season.
Despite criticism of Lingard’s ability, the 26-year-old Englishman has excellent movement and creates space for his teammates, which, combined with the ability he has shown to hit double figures in a season, could serve him well.
United are likely not keen on keeping Alexis Sanchez, who isn’t in the squad after his exploits at the Copa America. This means Lingard will likely see a similar fringe player role to what he largely had last season, and if he performs, he could make a huge difference towards United’s Champions League qualification efforts.
United’s new young winger from Swansea has reportedly led the squad in fitness reports, and while he is likely to see playing time in a variety of roles this season, he deserves to start in his preferred role from the left-wing.
James is best known for his blistering pace, and should he develop an end product, he could be a tricky tactical weapon for Premier League opposition for the next decade.
Like Pogba, Marcus Rashford saw an obscene amount of minutes last season and was given a longer rest as a result, paving the way for Martial to start up top Saturday.
Concerns about Martial’s fitness and attitude surrounded his limp end to last season, and it is well and truly time for him to show his talent and make this front line his own. He is by far the most talented forward in this inexperienced strike force, but it is time to do his talking on the pitch.
Predicted XI (4-2-3-1): de Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Bailly, Tuanzebe, Shaw; Matic, McTominay, Mata; Lingard, James, Martial.
Second XI: Romero; Dalot, Smalling, Lindelof, Young; Garner, Pereira, Pogba; Greenwood, Lukaku, Rashford.