Manchester United’s opening game of the Premier League season is against Wolverhampton Wanderers on Monday night.
It’s a game Erik ten Hag, and the club’s supporters, will expect to win but they will be aware of the infamous ‘new manager’ bounce that the visitors will travel to Old Trafford with. Gary O’Neil be in the opposing dugout rather than Julen Lopetegui – the Spaniard moved to terminate his contract by mutual agreement after believing Wolves had broken promises made to him regarding transfers.
There’s been no such concerns for United in the transfer market. Andre Onana, Mason Mount and Rasmus Hojlund have rocked up in Manchester to boost Ten Hag’s options, with two of the trio expected to feature from the start against Wolves.
Here’s the XI Ten Hag may begin the season with.
GK: Andre Onana – With the emphasis on playing out from the back, it was inevitable that David de Gea’s time as Manchester United would come to an end. Some may have envisaged him carrying on for a little longer, but the opportunity to reunite with Onana was too good to pass up for Ten Hag.
RB: Diogo Dalot – Aaron Wan-Bissaka has certainly played his way back into Ten Hag’s thinking, with a number of impressive late-season displays potentially saving his United career. But Dalot is first choice in games United should be dominating and should start here.
CB: Raphael Varane – Has done it all at the very top level and provides the calming influence in United’s backline.
CB: Lisandro Martinez – The early concerns over Martinez’s stature at centre-back soon diminished last season, and he’s already regarded as one of the Premier League’s finest.
LB: Luke Shaw – A really impressive campaign for Shaw was elevated his stock to perhaps its highest ever level. Tyrell Malacia is injured in any event, making this selection pretty straightforward.
DM: Casemiro – Struggled with disciplinary issues in his maiden season in England but it’s clear what Casemiro brings to the United side. A leader who oozes quality in the big moments.
CM: Mason Mount – Has the weight of expectation on his shoulders after convincing United to pay rivals Chelsea £55m for his services. Mount’s pressing ability could be key to the Red Devils winning the ball back high up the field.
CM: Bruno Fernandes (c) – Now the club’s permanent captain after Harry Maguire was relieved of his duties, Fernandes will be expected to set the tone from the off. Usually starts a new season pretty well.
RW: Antony – Not at his blistering best during his first season at Old Trafford but there’s plenty for the flamboyant Brazilian winger to build on.
CF: Marcus Rashford – Enjoyed a career-best campaign during 2022/23, scoring 30 goals, and now has the pressure of being United’s highest-paid player. Likely to start centrally while Hojlund gets himself fit, before ultimately drifting back out to the left flank.
LW: Alejandro Garnacho – Jadon Sancho has operated as a false nine in some of United’s pre-season games, looking pretty good in the process. But the dynamism and pace of Garnacho may be useful against Nelson Semedo, who is known for getting forward and occasionally being caught out of position.
LISTEN TO 90MIN’S MAN UTD PODCAST: THE PROMISED LAND
On this edition of The Promised Land, part of the 90min podcast network, Scott Saunders and Rob Blanchette talk about Jean-Clair Todibo potentially replacing Harry Maguire, as well as views on Scott McTominay, Fred, Dean Henderson and Donny van de Beek.
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