Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is reportedly on the verge of being named as the permanent Manchester United manager, having led the Red Devils to within two points of the top four in the Premier League, along with a date against Barcelona in the Champions League quarter-finals.
But two defeats in their last two games, including to Wolves in the FA Cup, suggest that there is hope for Watford, who travel to Old Trafford on Saturday, to dampen the positivity of announcing United’s next manager.
Despite a poor record against the league’s top six this season, Javi Gracia’s Hornets will go into the game full of confidence after booking their place in the FA Cup’s last four with a 2-1 win over Crystal Palace prior to the international break.
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After suffering an injury crisis in which nine players sat out the Champions League win at PSG, Solskjaer has been eager to bring players back to the fold as quickly as he can.
Anthony Martial, Jesse Lingard, Ander Herrera and Nemanja Matic all played in the defeat at Molineux after recent lay-offs and were notably rusty in midfield.
Add in Paul Pogba’s poor performance amid rumours he is seeking a move away from Old Trafford and there is plenty for the impressive duo of Abdoulaye Doucoure and Etienne Capoue to exploit.
Despite having spent over £660m assembling their current squad, there will likely be plenty of changes at Old Trafford in the summer.
One of the primary aims will likely be to bring in a commanding centre half. Chris Smalling and Victor Lindelof started against Wolves, but neither has ever fully convinced the Old Trafford faithful of their reliability at the back.
With Eric Bailly a doubt for the match, Troy Deeney will be confident his physicality can cause problems for the United defence. Fellow striker Andre Gray will also be keen to add to his tally after netting against Crystal Palace last time out.
Former Barcelona and Everton forward Gerard Deulofeu put in a man-of-the-match display against the Eagles and has seven goals and five assists from 23 Premier League appearances this season.
With the full-back positions highlighted as another area where United need to strengthen, Deulofeu will be looking to continue his recent spell of good form.
Luke Shaw was at fault for Wolves’s pivotal second goal, while Diogo Dalot’s inexperience means there should be plenty of opportunity for the Spaniard to cause problems down the flanks.