Jose Mourinho’s grumbles about Manchester United’s preparation could be revealed in their true manifestation tonight as the manager faces up to choosing a team with as many as eight first choice players unavailable.
Mourinho has complained about the scheduling of the World Cup, has been frustrated by an underwhelming transfer policy and has also had those concerns compounded by a number of injury problems.
Antonio Valencia, Diogo Dalot and Nemanja Matic were all confirmed to be out and the injury sustained by Ander Herrera in last weekend’s game at Bayern Munich is likely to rule him out of the season opener against Leicester City. Marcos Rojo is also injured.
In addition to those five, Mourinho is likely to wait until the very last minute before deciding whether or not he is able to call upon any of the players who made it all the way to the final weekend of the World Cup, which is a lengthy list considering United’s England, France and Belgium contingent : Paul Pogba, Romelu Lukaku, Chris Smalling, Ashley Young, Marcus Rashford, Phil Jones and Marouane Fellaini. Victor Lindelof’s progress with Sweden in the tournament puts him in a similar position to Smalling and Jones.
It means that the manager has only three names who are sure to start, barring last minute injuries to them — David De Gea, Eric Bailly and Alexis Sanchez, with Brazilian midfielder Fred a probable addition to that list to make his debut.
It will surely mean opportunities for squad players like Luke Shaw, and Scott McTominay, fan favourites to an extent, to try and state a case for their own place in the team.