Manchester United will return to action tonight in the FA Cup fourth round as they host Middlesbrough at Old Trafford, and Ralf Rangnick will be hoping that his team can progress in the competition after a transfer window full of unrest.
Although the club made no signings last month, they let eight players go out on loan, including Donny Van de Beek to Everton, after it was reported that up to 17 players were unhappy and want to leave the club.
The German will now seek to put the winter break behind him and set his focus on making progress in the remaining months of the season, with hope that the Red Devils can gain some consistent form to finish inside the top four and progress in the Champions League and FA Cup.
With that being said, this is how Football Fancast expects Rangnick to set up his United team against Middlesbrough on Friday night:
We expect Rangnick will go pretty strong with his United side in hope that a convincing performance from his team will distract slightly from the media storm which has been surrounding the club over the last few weeks.
Edinson Cavani would have been the natural choice for an FA Cup tie to give Cristiano Ronaldo a further rest before the return of the Premier League next week. However, the Uruguayan has reportedly asked the manager to sit out the clash tonight and isn’t currently in the country, so Ronaldo would be the likely choice for the centre-forward role.
We expect to see Dean Henderson reprise his role as starting goalkeeper against Middlesbrough, with the £120k-p/w outcast failing to gain much game-time so far this season. With his request for a move away from the club reportedly blocked by the club, Rangnick will likely be encouraged to start the English ‘keeper in a bid to show him that he is still a valued member of the squad.
Former United boss Jose Mourinho has previously voiced his admiration of the 24-year-old, praising his “incredible development“.
Paul Pogba is also expected back in action tonight after he returned to training during the winter break following an injury which sidelined him for a few months, and the Frenchman will surely be keen to make an impression and earn a place in Rangnick’s starting XI going forward. He has yet to feature under the incumbent manager, having last played in early November when Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was still at the helm.
Rangnick will be under pressure to progress in the competition after West Ham United knocked them out of the Carabao Cup in round three earlier in the season, with a good FA Cup run a great opportunity for the German to keep fans on his side and build confidence within the squad.
In other news: Why Rangnick must give this man his chance tonight