Manchester United’s bench is significantly weaker while Anthony Martial and Jesse Lingard are sidelined. But that did not stop them overrunning Chelsea in the FA Cup fifth round this week.
That said, there was little on the bench to help United if things had not gone to plan. Aside from Alexis Sanchez, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer picked three deep-lying midfielders and two defenders. In short, he lacked the wildcard sometimes needed in these situations.
With Fred, Scott McTominay and Andreas Perreira on the United bench, there was one too many midfielders.
Instead of Fred, who watched as his fellow central players were thrown on, United should have opted for Tahith Chong or Angel Gomes; players with the ability to make a difference in the final third.
With all due respect to McTominay and Perreira, neither will change a game. But Chong could do just that with a moment of magic. In fact, he could be United’s next great winger; he is that good.
Similarly, Gomes has the guile and creativity to force a late goal, while the currently injured Mason Greenwood deserves a shot sooner rather than later.
Solskjaer has excelled in his role as United’s interim boss. However, he was too reserved in his substitute selections on Monday.
Had the game plan gone wrong, it was not enough to rely on an under-performing Sanchez for the final 20 minutes.
Chong, Gomes and Greenwood will all make it in time. So why not now? While Lingard and Martial are out, there is space on the bench for another attacking option, not three like-for-like midfielders.