The dust has settled on GW1 and it’s time to welcome back the two Manchester clubs to the fixture list. Most managers will know both Manchester United and Manchester City were granted an extended break due to their participation in the latter stages of Europe’s elite competitions the Europa League and the Champions League respectively. Whether you’ve activated your wildcard or are just looking to transfer in a Manchester United asset for their appealing upcoming fixtures I hope to ease the burden of selection by previewing Utd’s potential line up and discussing who I believe to be the best value players.
Goalkeeper – David De Gea £5.5mEmbed from Getty Images
Starting at the back Utd have not had such stiff competition for the no.1 spot in many a year. Dean Hendersons (£5.5m) return from loan at Sheffield Utd and David De Gea’s (£5.5m) ever presence has all football fans wondering who will get to start between the sticks in Oles’ side. I believe the position is still De Gea’s to lose and Ole will keep faith in him for the time being with the hope of Hendersons return being the catalyst for a revival in form for the Spaniard. Whether De Gea can find old form or loses his place to Henderson, Utd are in safe hands with both keepers going to push each other to their limits. De Gea’s 13 clean sheets last season will be the benchmark and I have no doubt that number can be increased between the pair as Henderson equalled that tally in a Sheffield Utd side worth penneys in comparison. At £5.5m either of them will prove good value in the long term but I suggest managers play it safe until we know for sure who starts regularly.
Defence – Wan-Bissaka £5.5m, Maguire £5.5m, Lindelof £5.0m, Shaw £5.0mEmbed from Getty Images
Moving onto the defence and this is a much debated topic among all premier league fans. The consensus seems to be among fans that Man Utd’s defence is leaky due to well publicised errors from the club captain Harry Maguire (£5.5m) as well as a number of mistakes from the likes of Victor Lindelof (£5.0m) & De Gea himself. Only 3 teams had more clean sheets than Utd last season and only 2 conceded less goals than Ole’s men. There is still hope among Utd fans that we will bring a new centre half into the club before October’s deadline but that will rely on Ed Woodward agreeing to let some of the current squad leave such as Smalling & Rojo.
Regardless of whether or not new signings are made I believe there is enough quality at the club to convince me that we will keep a lot of clean sheets. Despite the clean sheet potential for defensive assets it is generally the attacking threat that makes them popular among FPL managers. Manchester United have not been a team that fully utilises the modern wing back or one that has an aerial dominant centre half prowling the oppositions box from every set piece. Neither Magiure nor Lindelof possess the ability to score regular attacking returns like the likes of Trent Alexander-Arnold or Van Dijk and the same can be said for Wan-Bissaka (£5.5m) down the right flank.
However there is some hope for the left side of Utd’s defence which currently sees Luke Shaw (£5.0m) roaming higher up the pitch and getting into good positions inside the box.
Shaw enjoys an overlapping run which we saw many of last season working well in tandem with Marcus Rashford. Despite his lack of goals and assist last season, I think if Shaw gets more regular game time on the left flank he will prove great value at £5.0m with a bunch of clean sheets and some assists added in too but watch out for transfer market activity at Old Trafford as rumour has it Ole is in the market for another left back which could see Shaws minutes limited.
Midfield – Nemanja Matic £5.0m, Paul Pogba £8.0m, Bruno Fernandes £10.5mEmbed from Getty Images
Looking further up the pitch at Utd’s midfield there has been some debate as to how Solskjaer will line up with new boy Donny Van De Beek and the current batch of players that showed a lot of potential after the restart last season. Matic (£5.0m) was like a new signing for parts of last season sitting in front of the back 4 providing much needed protection and contributing to their impressive defensive record. It’s a pity this selfless work from the Serb does not translate into FPL points and for that reason he shouldn’t be anywhere near a top managers squad. Playing alongside Matic is Paul Pogba (£8.0m) and the Frenchman seems way more settled in Manchester now than he did under Jose Mourinho. I fancy Pogba to find his old form he displayed on countless occasions for Utd when he felt up to it, accompanying Bruno in midfield with an exciting front line, Pogba can assist and score goals from anywhere on the pitch. At £8.0m he is one to keep an eye on for a value target.
Many FPL managers will be wondering where new boy Van De Beek (£7.0m) fits into all of this but only one man can tell us exactly what the former Ajax man’s role will be. Van De Beek is traditionally a box to box midfielder or a no.10 that loves to make late runs into the box to get on the end of crosses or goalmouth scrambles. He had an impressive 8 goals and 6 assists in just under 2000 minutes (23 games) last season helping Ajax to the Eredivisie title. I reckon VDB spends the first few premier league games on the bench making late appearances as he Ole experiments on his line up so for now I would avoid getting him in until his role is fully understood. It wouldn’t be a discussion about Utd’s midfield without mentioning the points machine Bruno Fernandes (£10.5m). After arriving in Manchester in January, Bruno has contributed an astounding 8 goals and 7 assists in just 14 premier league games. As Man Utd’s penalty taker and set piece specialist he is only going to continue if not improve his tally this season also. Once Bruno settles down again after his slightly extended break he will be hard to beat for value despite his hefty price tag. At £10.5m he will certainly prove his worth in the long run.
Forwards – Mason Greenwood £7.5m, Anthony Martial £9.0m, Marcus Rashford £9.5mEmbed from Getty Images
Despite being vocal points of Utd’s attack both Marcus Rashford (£9.5m) and Mason Greenwood (£7.5m) are positioned as midfielders in FPL. This fact alone makes them very attractive options as free flowing football has returned to Old Trafford and I expect all 3 of them to hit the ground running in front of goal. Greenwood’s world class finishing has become well renowned in the premier league and if given the opportunity again this season in Utd’s front 3 he will flourish. Until new faces are brought in such as Jadon Sancho, Greenwood is expected to start on the right wing. For a £7.5m midfielder he appears to be a no brainer going into GW2 but it is important to note after last weeks international break problems for the young Englishman it is yet to be seen if Ole throws him straight back into the starting line up and for that reason I am personally avoiding him in GW2. Rashford playing out wide on the left wing will no doubt provide returns over the season but his potential doesn’t excite me as much as Anthony Martial (£9.0m). Last season Martial really developed into a world class talent and added more consistency to his game. 17 goals and 7 assists in 32 premier league games in the 2019/20 season was by far his best return in a Utd shirt and its important to remember he didn’t have the likes of Bruno Fernandes or a settled Pogba supplying him pre christmas. A full season in this new look Utd attack should see Martial break the 20 goal mark in the premier league and I expect him to start strongly in GW2 against a Crystal Palace side that played league cup football midweek.
In summary if you’re rattling your brain on which Utd assets to include in your squad I look to have at least 1 of Bruno Fernandes and Anthony Martial. If you fancy a punt then Luke Shaw will prove good value at the back also.
I hope this preview can help other FPL managers going into GW2 and best of luck to everyone for the rest of the season.