What does experimentation look like for Manchester United?
Manchester United have seven points from their first three Europa League games and have the chance to qualify for the knockout rounds tonight.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men are yet to concede in Europe’s secondary competition this season and will progress with a victory over Partizan.
And Solskjaer has hinted he will look to experiment on matchdays five and six if they are safely through by then.
But in a competition where United have already been fielding younger players, what would that look like?
What did Solskjaer say?
As per United’s official Twitter account, Solskjaer said: “We’ve got a great chance to qualify for the next round tomorrow night which means we can try out a few things in the last two games.”
And the Guardian reported some further comments: “One of the best things about this competition is the opportunity it allows you to give young players a chance to come through.
“I don’t see it as a distraction from the league programme at all. We have given quite a few of our young lads the chance to play and they have all acquitted themselves very well.”
What would experimentation look like?
Solskjaer’s comments leave the door open for experimentation in terms of tactics and also personnel.
He has flitted between three and four at the back in recent weeks and if there are any other formations he has been toying with, two dead rubbers would provide a good chance to give them a dry run.
That said, there’s only so much that can be learned about a setup from a match with little riding on it.
It seems more likely that young blood will be given its chance if United qualify.
Angel Gomes, Tahith Chong and James Garner have not been given as many Europa League opportunities as some may have expected, but all three would likely get two starts in the coming games if United progress tonight, along with Mason Greenwood.
Gomes is out tonight with injury and will hope to recover to play a part in the next two games.
Who are the next cabs off the rank? Ethan Laird and young goalkeeper Matěj Kovář both trained with the seniors this week.
Perhaps Laird would have a better chance of playing, with Sergio Romero likely to have designs gametime between the sticks in Europe.
United’s full back options have been largely dire for too many seasons and after the breakthrough of Brandon Williams, Laird will likely be looking to follow suit, if he doesn’t get the nod tonight.
It is possible impressive under-23 performers Largie Ramazani and Dylan Levitt get a chance. May be even Arnau Puigmal too after his showing on Monday night in which he scored twice against Middlesbrough.
Players returning from injury like Diogo Dalot and perhaps even Eric Bailly will hope to be involved too.
If United do qualify tonight, the young players will be the big winners.
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