Oh United, United, United, what are we going to do with you eh? With such great fixtures, all of us fantasy managers just want to jump on board but you just keep on giving us reasons not to.
With injuries all over the shop and a new tactical system in place, United are struggling to make an impact on 2014/15, leaving us in fantasy limbo. The performance against Swansea was lacklustre and away at Sunderland, they rarely looked threatening. Mata’s goal came out of nowhere and it followed a start that was littered with misplaced passes.
The Backline That Nobody Wants
It’s quickly become apparent that the injuries have taken their toll and United don’t have the players for Van Gaal’s system. Valencia and Young cannot be relied upon defensively as wing-backs and the central positions are a mess right now. Jones (5.5m) has potential but is not ready to lead the backline, Smalling (potential groin injury) is another work-in-progress who lacks authority and Evans (5.0m) impressed in pre-season and has just returned from injury but is another question mark.
All 3 have been back-ups in recent years who have failed to convince previous United managers of their competence. Whether they can grab their chance is anyone’s guess but a commanding centre-back must still be high on Van Gaal’s agenda before the transfer window closes. Rojo (6.0m) will add some strength though once his work permit comes through and he also has the potential to move inside once Shaw returns from injury in mid-September.
Central Midfield Muscle (Or Lack Of)
Moving forward and we have Cleverley and Fletcher who would struggle to get into many a Premier League midfield. Fletcher is still finding his way from a very lengthy period out of the game, whilst Cleverley has never really progressed from those promising days on loan at Wigan. The first choice duo of Carrick (expected back Gameweek 6 at the earliest) and Herrera (unknown return date) are both currently out with ankle injuries and this only spells danger for United.
However, with record signing Di Maria joining the United ranks, we could see a shift that pushes Mata (8.9m) further back to add some quality into their distribution. He’s never been known for his defensive qualities but neither has Cleverley and with 3 centre backs behind him, Mata shouldn’t have to do too much defending.
The Strikeforce (Where United Can Shine)
This leads us to the players who can benefit from Mata’s vision and intelligence on the ball. An attacking trio of Rooney (10.5m), Van Persie (12.5m) and Di Maria are enough to frighten any Premier League backline and if they can gel alongside Mata, goals shouldn’t be hard to come by.
Di Maria will add much needed pace to United’s play, helping to transition from defence to attack and he also has the ability to take on and skip past players. He’s arriving in Manchester for a very hefty price but it’s clear that United need someone with his talent and wingplay. Long gone are the days when United possessed wingers that struck fear into the hearts of full backs.
Watch This Space
For the Manchester United conundrum, it’s very much a case of watch this space. The signing of Di Maria is sure to breathe new energy into a camp struggling to get to grips with the new season and we could see a rejuvenated attacking performance. However, the frailties at the back remain and unless United can control the centre of the park, they could continue to concede and fail to dominate matches.
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