Can Van Gaal Do It On A Tuesday Night In Milton Keynes?
By Steven Narloch
Following on from a couple of disappointing performances, attention now turns to the Capital One Cup second round.
With everyone pundits and supporters writing off United’s chances in the league, could there be success in cup competitions?
Manager Louis Van Gaal has a good record in domestic cup competitions with other clubs. He has won a KNVB Cup, Copa del Rey and DVB-Pokal with Ajax, Barcelona and Bayern Munich in the past, and the Capital One Cup and FA Cup will be his best chance of success in his first season at United.
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The match will also be an opportunity for players on the fringes and in the U21 team to impress. With Anders Lindegaard reportedly on his way to Celtic, Ben Amos or Sam Johnstone could replace De Gea between the goalposts if the Spaniard is to be rested.
If Van Gaal is going to stick with his system of three centre backs, he’ll more than likely go with Tyler Blackett and Michael Keane with a choice of Phil Jones, Tom Thorpe or Jonny Evans, who started training again, last Friday, starting alongside them. The match may come too soon for new signing Marcos Rojo as the Argentinean defender is still awaiting his work permit.
With Van Gaal unlikely to risk the injury list getting bigger, then wide men Ashley Young and Antonio Valencia will be rested. If that’s the case, Reece James, who shone on the US tour, should start as left wing-back with again a choice of Adnan Januzaj or Wilfred Zaha starting on the right, other potential starts at right wing-back are Rafael and Guillermo Varela. The Uruguayan signed last summer from Penarol but has featured mainly for the U21s.
Could Rafael stake a first team claim with a goal like these?
Again with Van Gaal unlikely to risk the likes of Fletcher or Cleverley and with Fellaini almost out the door, the midfield could be a surprise. In the closing stages of the Sunderland draw, the manager brought on Januzaj in the midfield, so the young Belgian could again feature there.
Anderson could be brought in from the cold as well with Ben Pearson and Joe Rothwell other potential midfield starters.
Ben Pearson Reserves 2013/14 Highlights
If players are to be rested then expect to see Tom Lawrence and James Wilson back in the United attack. Both made surprise appearances towards the end of last season. I’d start Danny Welbeck alongside Wilson for experience and the scary pace that he brings.
Whoever starts will be desperate to score and make an impact on the new boss
MK Dons, who beat AFC Wimbledon in the first round, will want to claim the scalp of one of the biggest names in world football. This would be one of the biggest wins in their short history if they were to pull it off. They’ve made a good start to the League One season with a couple of wins and a draw from four matches.
Predicted scoreline: 3-1 United
Predicted starting XI: Amos, Blackett, Evans, Keane, Rafael, James, Januzaj, Pearson, Lawrence, Welbeck, Wilson