Manchester United play Valencia at Old Trafford in their final preseason match. This match will also signal the Old Trafford debut for the new personnel; Manager Louis van Gaal and players Luke Shaw and Ander Herrera. It will not be the first time in Old Trafford for the three of them having faced United at Old Trafford with their former teams.
Being the last match before preseason, van Gaal will seek to finalise his starting XI for the curtain-raiser vs Swansea. I expect the side to face Swansea to play against Valencia. Van Gaal has already given us a glimpse of his favoured starting XI whilst in America however one has to see whether the players who did not feature in America will be given time to impress vs Valencia. Namely these players are: Adnan Januzaj, Marouane Fellaini, Nick Powell and Robin van Persie. A lot will depend on these players’ fitness levels. Michael Carrick will miss this match as well as a good chunk of early season due to injury whilst Rafael is probably not fit yet.
The following is the starting XI I am predicting followed by some comments.
Smalling – Jones – Evans
Valencia – Shaw
Fletcher – Herrera
Welbeck – Rooney ( C )
In my opinion, van Gaal’s greatest decision is whether to play Shaw or Young on the left flank. The Dutch Manager admitted that Luke Shaw needed to get in a better shape and was doing personalised training session to get him up to the required levels of fitness. On the other hand, Ashley Young, a certain goner at the end of last season, has done incredibly well under van Gaal and has also reinvented himself as a wing back on both flanks.
Injury Doubts and their potential replacements
Smalling, Valencia and Welbeck will feature depending on whether they recuperated from the knocks suffered in America. Should these players not be fit, expect Smalling to be replaced by Tyler Blackett who has been more convincing than Michael Keane. Valencia, would be replaced by Young whilst Welbeck will be replaced by Chicharito unless van Gaal decided to play Januzaj or Kagawa in that role to partner Rooney. Januzaj played almost a full season as a lone striker for the U21 and despite his slim figure, he had impressed coached for being able to hold unto the ball.
Having captained United in their last American outing, I believe that the captaincy is heading towards the former Evertonian. Captaincy could be the tonic to ensure that Rooney’s will have one of his best season’s in a United shirt. I would be surprised if he doesn’t captain the side against Valencia.
Subs and Outgoing Transfers
It will be interesting to see whether Nick Powell, £4million from Crewe will be given a chance by van Gaal. Being back in Manchester it would also be worthwhile to see whether van Gaal will try to include some of our younger players such as James Wilson.
Tomorrow’s squad might give an indication of those players that van Gaal is considering as surplus to requirements. Rafael, Chicharito, Nani, Anderson and Fellaini are rumoured to be the players that van Gaal has informed that have no future at Old Trafford. Should they not feature in this match, it would be a clear sign that their next step is outside the door. However, Anderson and Rafael will most probably not feature because of injury.