Paul Pogba has been ruled out of Manchester United’s clash against bitter rivals Liverpool on Sunday.
That has caused many fans on social media to panic about their side’s prospects in a game they will enter as underdogs.
But just last year, a United side managed by Jose Mourinho saw off the Reds without the Frenchman in the side.
We’ve taken a look at that blueprint, which may hearten the supporters who are fearful without Pogba.
Greater defensive discipline
There’s a debate to be had over whether Pogba should be expected to chip in more defensively or be liberated into a more advanced role.
That’s a conversation for another article, but there’s little doubt that United’s central midfielders will need to be energetic and diligent on Sunday.
Back in March 2018, Scott McTominay was partnered by Nemanja Matic in a duo which gave sturdy protection to a backline containing Antonio Valencia, Chris Smalling and Ashley Young.
Matic is perhaps too slow now to perform a similar role, but Fred’s best United display came in the against-the-odds away win over Paris Saint-Germain in March. If he can rediscover that spirit, he’s a suitable option.
Either way, Solskjaer will have a disciplined, hard-working midfield unit he can rely on to do their utmost to stop the supply into Liverpool’s front three. That wouldn’t have been the case if Pogba was fit.
Mata and Rashford provide blueprint for success
In that win, Juan Mata was tucked in off the right and Marcus Rashford stretched the game on the left, isolating Trent Alexander-Arnold.
Rashford returned to top form during England’s 6-0 thrashing of Bulgaria on Monday night, helped by moving to the flank, and getting more chances to run with the ball.
Alexis Sanchez and Romelu Lukaku led the line, but neither had a huge impact on the game – it was all about Rashford.
Daniel James’ searing pace should give Liverpool to think about, while Anthony Martial is expected to return.
Mata, Rashford, Martial and James should offer enough to keep Liverpool honest at the back, and supported by a disciplined, energetic unit behind them, United may just be able to get a result without Pogba – again.
- Manchester United fans react to Luke Shaw’s performance against City
- Manchester United’s five best players in derby day win
- Manchester United fans hail Aaron Wan-Bissaka’s performance v City
- Marcus Rashford praises ‘unreal’ Fred
- Five things we learned as Manchester United beat Manchester City 2-1