This article is part of Football FanCast’s Opinion series, which provides analysis, insight and opinion on any issue within the beautiful game, from Paul Pogba’s haircuts to League Two relegation battles…
So after looking like they had staged a mini revival, Manchester United were firmly brought back down to Earth with a bump after slipping to a 1-0 defeat to Bournemouth on Saturday afternoon.
The Red Devils came into the game full of confidence following a run of three successive away wins, and coming up against a side that had not scored in their previous three Premier League outings, this was surely seen as a quite comfortable three points.
Instead, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men showcased the kind of problems that have characterised their entire season – a lack of creativity and goals. The Manchester side could only register four shots on target in the entire game, and in truth, never looked like scoring.
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So when the attention turns towards Thursday night’s Europa League encounter against Partizan Belgrade, the United boss must simply throw caution to the wind and play the kind of attacking line-up that gives the team the best chance of scoring.
As has been the theme this season in the cup competitions, Sergio Romero will likely replace David de Gea in between the sticks for United. In front of him, Marcos Rojo could replace Victor Lindelof, but Solskjaer may be tempted to stick to a strong starting eleven. The Red Devils desperately need a feel-good performance and result, and a clash at home to Partizan is exactly the kind of game they should be ear-marking to do just that.
Whilst Aaron Wan-Bissaka has already earned rave reviews for his defensive prowess, he is not the most adventurous of full-backs – certainly not by modern standards. Against Bournemouth at the weekend, the former Crystal Palace man attempted no crosses whatsoever, whilst only two of his his attempted eight long balls found their mark. Teenage prospect Brandon Williams – who had United fans drooling over a mazy run in a game earlier this season – could be the man to provide some attacking thrust.
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In midfield, James Garner could come in for Scott McTominay to help dictate the tempo, whilst Andreas Pereira’s woeful showing in the number ten role against the Cherries surely means he should be out of the team on Thursday. The Brazilian provided just one key pass, failed to complete any of his six crosses and lost possession 23 times. Solskjaer should therefore think about turning back to Juan Mata to provide some creativity – after all, the ex-Chelsea man has an impressive career average of two key passes per game.
And finally, whilst the Red Devils boss may want to give his forwards a rest, they could really do with another boost in confidence. As such, the likes of Marcus Rashford, Daniel James and Anthony Martial may be given the chance to start again – and it’s exactly the kind of attacking line-up Solskjaer needs to put out to quickly erase their painful Bournemouth memories.