The departure of Jose Mourinho has lifted the air of gloom surrounding Manchester United and heralded in the re-introduction of a club legend in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, to much mirth and positivity.
And he’s brought a renewed hope for attacking football with him.
Right from the first interview that he sat down with MUTV for, Solskjaer reiterated his commitment to playing football the Manchester United way – with width, pace and expression.
After the defensive, negative approach of Jose Mourinho, that would be a welcome change for a fanbase starved of exciting football.
Even under the Portuguese manager, the moments in which United played stellar football were the ones where they were forced to chase the game and hence abandon his tactical hamstringing.
The personnel to execute that brand of play is certainly present at the club. It’s up to Solskjaer to set them up in a way that brings out the best in them.
And here’s how we think he’s going to do that when United travel away to Cardiff City.
Mostly in Molde, Solskjaer set up with a 4-2-3-1 double pivot in midfield, with the front 4 interchanging positions and welcoming overlapping runs from the full backs.
That would be the logical formation that he could set up with against Cardiff City too, given that the team’s also been used to a similar setup under Mourinho.
With Lukaku absent (compassionate leave), Marcus Rashford could lead the line with Martial playing from his preferred left wing position while Lingard offers a tad more pace down the right than Mata normally does.
Mata played from the right, often cutting in and stitching up play, under both Louis van Gaal and Jose Mourinho, But with Solskjaer so keen to emulate Sir Alex Ferguson’s penchant for pace down both wings, the skillful Spaniard could start in a conventional number 10 position tomorrow where he excelled at Chelsea.
Expect Pogba, who was Solskjaer’s ward when he managed United reserves, to stride right back into the team at left center midfield, with Herrera picked ahead of Matic to offer more legs and dynamism in the middle. If there is one player who gets what Manchester United is about, it is Ander Herrera.
That understanding is the need of the hour.
The return of Victor Lindelof, who’s been Manchester United’s best defender this season, was a welcome sight at Anfield. He should ideally partner Eric Bailly at the back, hopefully getting the ball rolling on what is – on paper at least – the best center back partnership that United has the potential to evoke.
Luke Shaw misses out due to injury so Ashley Young’s crossing ability should see him get the nod over Matteo Darmian at left back, while Diogo Dalot has proven that he has all the qualities to be a top class right back in the years to come.
Blooding youth is the United way, and with Ole at the helm, expect the young Portuguese full back to start the game.
David De Gea picks himself in goal.