4 ways United defence can cope without Varane and Maguire
Man Utd return to Premier League action at the end of the week and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer could have a defensive dilemma to solve.
Against Leicester, United may need to switch formations.
When United returns to action against Leicester this weekend, they may be without two of their most crucial players.
Ole’s team return to action on Saturday afternoon when they go to the King Power Stadium, where they may be forced to play without their two most important central defenders.
With a calf problem, Cap. Maguire had to leave the recent defeat to Villa and was forced to miss matches with both Villarreal and Everton, as well as a position in the England team.
Varane then limped out before halftime as France came back from a goal behind to win the Nations League final on Sunday evening.
If that is the case, United will be without their £123 million defensive pairings this weekend, leaving Solskjaer only four options.
The Proven Partnership:
The most natural choice would be to go with the two most experienced centre-backs available, with Eric Bailly and Victor Lindelof both remaining Premier League grade alternatives, while Phil Jones, who has recently returned to fitness, could be used as a bench player.
The combination was once tipped to be United’s long-term defensive option, but neither has ever truly persuaded over a sustained period of time.
Bailly and Lindelof are still fighting for the third-choice spot this season, and both would have something to prove if given the chance at the weekend.
Mengi gets a chance to prove himself:
After his impressive loan period with Derby and following form playing for the U23s side, many fans would like to see Teden Mengi given an opportunity.
The 19-year-immediate old’s future is likely to be a loan move in the January window, but he might get one last chance to show how far he’s come before then.
Mengi has continued to shine at the youth level this season, and he has come a long way since his senior debut.
He’s still a long way from being Premier League ready, but he could absolutely fill in for a short period of time.
Three at the back
Another tried and true tactic would be for Solskjaer to switch to a 3-5-2 formation and play Luke Shaw in the same auxiliary role that he excelled in at the start of the season.
Alex Telles would start in the left wing-back position, with Aaron Wan-Bissaka available on the opposite side of the defence.
This switch would also relieve the central midfield of some defensive responsibilities, allowing United to play Paul Pogba in a central role rather than his recent left-wing position.
Midfielder drops deep?
A midfielder in central defence, whether as part of a two or as part of the aforementioned back three, is a wildcard suggestion.
Scott McTominay has played centre-back for Scotland at the international level, and Nemanja Matic could do the same if he is flanked by two mobile teammates.
Both could serve as adequate stopgaps on a temporary basis, but it’s difficult to imagine either of them filling that position in the near future.
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