Manchester United face Villarreal in the Champions League this evening in what will be their first fixture since former manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was sacked.
The Red Devils slumped to a humiliating 4-1 defeat to newly-promoted Watford over the weekend, proving to be the final straw in the 48-year-old’s two-and-a-half-year reign.
Barring a curtain-raising thrashing of fierce rivals Leeds United, the Old Trafford outfit had been hugely disappointing throughout 2021/22, with Saturday’s loss their seventh of the campaign in all competitions.
It was meant to be the season that Solskjaer returned United to the top of English football following the arrivals of Cristiano Ronaldo, Jadon Sancho and Raphael Varane, but things haven’t gone to plan.
The managerless outfit currently sit in eighth place in the Premier League table, six points behind fourth-placed West Ham United and 12 behind league-leaders Chelsea.
However, interim manager, Michael Carrick, could become an instant hit in the United dugout by axing Nemanja Matic following his dismal display against the Hornets last time out.
Matic also recorded a passing accuracy of just 83% during Solskjaer’s final fixture, significantly adding to United’s woes.
The Serbia international also put in a shaky performance against Southampton earlier in the campaign, leading to Sky Sports pundit Roy Keane suggesting that Solskjaer didn’t know his best midfield options.
“I think if you’re going to play in central midfield for a big team and a big club, you have got to hang your hat on someone to say he’s brilliant at going forward or he’s brilliant defensively, or he’s got a goal in him, or he’s a great athlete,” said Keane. “I don’t see any of [those qualities] in Fred.
“I think McTominay has got a chance of being that player, Matic, you know… would any of these players get in the Man City, Chelsea or Liverpool teams? I don’t see it, so I wouldn’t know what their best combination is – so that’s a problem.”
With United needing three points against Villarreal to secure their passage into the last 16 of Europe’s elite cup competition, Carrick must be brave in dropping one of his most experienced players.