After a disappointing weekend, Manchester United fans will be hoping the manager and players can redeem themselves somewhat when they take on Young Boys at home in the Champions League on Tuesday night.
On the back of a difficult period of fixtures, which has seen them face the likes of Manchester City, Juventus and Chelsea all away from home, United now have a string of easier games. The result against Crystal Palace suggests these matches won’t be as simple as they should be though.
However, you would imagine that despite their recent form, United should be able to secure a result against the Swiss side. Away from home, United won 3-0, thanks to goals from Paul Pogba and Anthony Martial, so a home victory shouldn’t be beyond them.
All eyes will be on Jose Mourinho’s team selection though, with him stubbornly picking Nemanja Matic and Romelu Lukaku whenever they are available, regardless of their performances. This season, both have fallen way short of expectations yet Mourinho has persisted.
When starting with Alexis Sanchez in recent matches, we have seen improved performances from United, with his movement a key advantage over playing Lukaku. While he’s yet to live up to expectations since his transfer from Arsenal, he has had a more positive impact than the Belgian.
His game time has been more limited this season, compared to last year when Mourinho started him every week ahead of players who were in better form, but when you look at his contribution per minute this season he is one of United’s best performing forwards.
Anthony Martial has arguably kept Mourinho in a job this season with some key goals, which is fairly ironic when you consider the manager was reportedly keen to sell him in the summer. He’s scored six in his last eight games, including goals against Manchester City and Chelsea, and will be looking to add to his tally against Young Boys.
Defensively, David de Gea has kept United in games on several occasions this season, but Victor Lindelof has started to raise his game recently. Having just been named Swedish player of the year, the 24-year-old has started to find his feet in United’s defence, following a shaky start to his career at the club. It’s unfortunate he has been ruled out of this match.
Luke Shaw will return to the team following his ban for the league game at the weekend. The left-back has finally begun to play like the fans had been hoping for since his transfer over four years ago. Whatever issues he had with Mourinho seem to have been worked out and he’s proving to be an upgrade on any of United’s other full-backs.
Ashley Young, who started at left-back against Palace, attempted 11 crosses and didn’t reach his intended target with any of them. Some fault for that may lie with the poor movement of the players in the box but as much as Shaw’s defensive ability will be welcomed back, so will his contribution to the attack.
The fans will be demanding that the team goes on the all-out attack against Young Boys and Mourinho would be wise to instruct his players to do that. He needs the crowd on side and after the Palace game, which heard Old Trafford erupt in to boos at the final whistle, they will need something to get them on their feet.
An attacking line-up will be a good place to start. Seeing Lukaku dropped for Sanchez or Matic for Fred would also be fairly encouraging too.
Young Boys are currently running away with their league, a massive 16 points ahead of second-placed Basel already, but their fortunes in Europe have been different. They are currently bottom of the group with just one draw in four games.
If United win and Juventus draw or lose against Valencia, Mourinho’s men will go top of the group. That would certainly appease the supporters for now but the manager is going to have a difficult task ahead of him if he is going to win them over long-term.