Cristiano Ronaldo’s move to Manchester United is prompting a total rethink for the team.
While Ronaldo has scored at a prolific rate, United have not played well and have just one point to from the last three league games.
The big dilemma for manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is to create a team, and this does not necessarily involve the biggest names.
Gary Neville told Sky Sports: “Manchester United at this moment in time are imbalanced.”
The trio of Ronaldo, Bruno Fernandes and Paul Pogba may need breaking up. The Leicester game showed this, and United have to address the imbalance.
How did we get here?
The opening game of the season demonstrated Pogba and Fernandes linking up at their best.
Fernandes scored a hat-trick with Pogba setting up two of the goals, with the Frenchman adding a further two assists.
Granted that was against an open Leeds side, but it showed what these players are capable of together, with a mobile forward like Mason Greenwood leading the line.
Ronaldo is more static and United have to adjust to that. The Portuguese superstar is not going anywhere.
So that leaves United trying to fit players in around him, and together Fernandes and Pogba have failed to convince together since Ronaldo’s arrival.
Left with two choices
United have to find the right balance, and that will mean sacrificing one of the two.
The most likely option for United is that the midfield duo of Fred and Scott McTominay are recalled. With Marcus Rashford on the left, that leaves a simply choice between Pogba and Fernandes in attack behind Ronaldo.
While Pogba can play there, Solskjaer rarely does so. Fred, McTominay, and Fernandes will be the midfield trio.
The secondary option is for United to play Pogba as part of a midfield two with either Fred or McTominay. Let’s say Fred for argument’s sake.
In this scenario United will need to play Jesse Lingard rather than Fernandes, as his work rate will benefit the midfield and Ronaldo, more so.
Option A) Fred, McTominay, Fernandes or Option B) Fred, Pogba, Lingard.
Then add in Marcus Rashford on the left, Mason Greenwood on the right, and Ronaldo up front, and United are set.
Jadon Sancho looks like a luxury at this point until he performs to the level United require, and will rotate with Rashford in any case with United likely to want to use the returning attacker more carefully after his operation.
Playing both Pogba and Fernandes against Atalanta would be naive.
United have to make a choice, and work out which gives the side the greater balance in the style Ole Gunnar Solskjaer prefers.
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