Thursday 19 May 2016

How the United squad could look as boss ponders Cup final options

Louis van Gaal's United squad may not be as vintage as his wine cellar but several of his players will be dreading tomorrow.

Van Gaal is unlikely to find time for sentimentalism when he might be managing his players for the final time on Saturday.
There might be more than 18 players down to the capital with even the injured Luke Shaw and Bastian Schweinsteiger entitled to their share of cup final tickets.

Van Gaal is as capricious as he is superstitious and it would not be a surprise if the Dutchman retained his XI from that game for the big one at Wembley.

Jesse Lingard and Juan Mata will probably both start although the pair do not have a telepathic understanding on the right and Van Gaal has- inexplicably- often played Lingard in the centre instead of Mata.

Lingard is seldom creative on the ball but his movement off it and versatility across the front three supplement the attack well whilst Mata- despite having an underwhelming campaign by his standards- is United's most intelligent forward.

Marouane Fellaini's elbow on Robert Huth may have cost him a starting spot but he will surely feature as he has impressed in the Cup to date and has been increasingly relied upon by Van Gaal.

Van Gaal cites a 'lack of match rhythm' when outlining why a player doesn't start, however Fellaini has been most effective in the 4-3-3 formation- especially in our quarter and semi-final wins and LVG restored him against Liverpool in March after a month out. 

Marcos Rojo has endured a poor season but only his recent injury allowed Cameron Borthwick-Jackson to come back into the team.

The Argentinian is fit to play but should he regain match fitness he will have played only one game in two weeks and to be thrown back in against Palace's pacy and potent wingers is a risk it might not be worth taking.

Matteo Darmian is also back available and he would be a superior option on the bench, not due to his ability but because of his versatility to cover both the right and left-back positions.

Ashley Young should have clinched a bench spot and Morgan Schneiderlin- unwell against Bournemouth- has had five days to perk up for Palace but is vying for Fellaini for a squad berth.

Van Gaal errs on the side of caution and might favour the Frenchman's defensive capabilities ahead of Ander Herrera, who could be unlucky but his semi-final impact may work in the Spaniard's favour. 

Tim Fosu-Mensah was dropped from Netherlands duty due to injury and Adnan Januzaj has also suffered a setback having forced his way back into Van Gaal's plans so there are unlikely to be any squad shocks. 

Predicted squad: De Gea, Romero, Valencia, Darmian, Smalling, Blind, Jones, Borthwick-Jackson, Carrick, Herrera, Fellaini, Memphis, Lingard, Mata, Young, Rooney, Martial, Rashford. 

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