After all, Jose Mourinho had been forced to play Scott McTominay and Nemanja Matic in a makeshift back-three against Southampton. And it didn’t work.
But things could have been different if Axel Tuanzebe was not on loan at Aston Villa. After all, the 21-year-old is talented enough to have solved that particular problem at Old Trafford.
Much like Marcus Rashford before him, Tuanzebe could have seized a chance brought on by the absence of others.
Instead, he watched from afar as United played Matic and McTominay out of position and conceded two quick goals against the Saints.
Tuanzebe has made the centre-back role his own at Villa Park; his loan spell seeing a return of 19 appearances to date. And, while that is good for his development, he could have added to his eight United appearances if he stayed.
Rashford was thrown into the limelight out of necessity and he flourished. Tuanzebe is just as talented in his own position but circumstances have delayed his real breakthrough.
If United have another injury crisis next season, expect the young Englishman to seize his chance, albeit belatedly.
Mourinho has shown faith in some young players while bizarrely overlooking others. Tuanzebe is surely a better option than Phil Jones, who has become the punchline to his own joke.
If only he was at Old Trafford right now, but he could be next in line for stardom regardless.
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