In this series of articles I will look into the current state of affairs in the red part of Manchester and its impact on our Fantasy Premier League teams.
The International Break couldn’t come at a worse time for Manchester United fans. Following the heavy 1:6 defeat to Jose Mourinho’s Tottenham Hotspur, we have been treated with a truly underwhelming transfer deadline day, as the board decided against fully backing the manager and refused to sign a new right winger.
To make matters worse, Ole Gunnar Solskjær will be now without his star man, Anthony Martial. The Frenchman has been suspended for the next three Premier League fixtures, and while Erik Lamela is probably collecting his acting course diploma somewhere in North London, Fantasy managers are trying to adjust to this new set of circumstances.
Anthony Martial has been an ever present piece in the Solskjær puzzle and has been occupying the number 9 role since Romelu Lukaku departed to Italy in the summer of 2019. The only consolation for United fans could be the fact that Martial will be fresh for the crucial Champions League games, as the next 5 fixtures for United look demanding on paper – to say the least:
Sat 17 Oct: Newcastle vs Man Utd
Tue 20 Oct: PSG vs Man Utd
Sat 24 Oct: Man Utd vs Chelsea
Wed 28 Oct: Man Utd vs RB Leipzig
Sun 01 Nov: Man Utd vs Arsenal
New arrival, 33-year-old Edison Cavani, is still isolating due to Covid-19 guidelines and is going to miss the Newcastle clash. In 5 of the 6 instances last season when Martial was missing league games due to injury, the Norwegian manager deployed Marcus Rashford in the number 9 role with very little success, as his team managed to win only one of those five fixtures; with the recent MBA award receiver scoring the only goal in a 1:0 victory over Leicester:
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United’s lineup for the Leicester game (oh my days, this midfield…)
Man United fans, myself included, were left frustrated in that period of the season, as the likes of Andreas Pereira, Jesse Lingard and Juan Mata were all favoured over Greenwood. The 6th time Martial missed a game for United, however – which happened later in the season; in December 2019 against Spurs – Solskjær finally asked the teenage sensation to lead the line. Meanwhile, Rashford remained in his strongest left-winger role and scored a brace in a 2:1 victory
While Rashford’s versatility is certainly one of his biggest strengths, it seems a waste to limit his talents – such as dribbling, vision, creativity and pace – by playing him upfront, when a player like Mason Greenwood is available.
Hopefully, Solskjær will continue to put more faith in the 19-year-old and will now deploy him in a striker role, where his most natural attributes are on show – his ability to score with both feet, space awareness and calmless in front of goal are to an extent limited whenever he is played out wide.
Coming at only 7.4m and listed as a midfielder, Greenwood is certainly the player to keep an eye for. Even when Martial gets back, or perhaps Cavani gets the nod upfront for the time being, the teenager is certainly a massive differential from a team that, despite a current dip in form, is still very high-scoring.
As for United’s defenders, the difficult fixture list makes a perfect excuse for selling if anyone still owns the likes of Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Luke Shaw or Harry Maguire.
New addition Alex Telles, who scored 11 goals and provided 8 assists in 31 league appearances as a left-back for FC Porto last season, could prove to be an interesting proposition this season; but for the reasons mentioned above, it may be too early to consider the 27-year-old Brazilian for our Fantasy teams.
Even though we are still only at the beginning of the 2020/2021 campaign, the next month could be season-defining for Manchester United. There are already rumours surfacing about Solskjær’s position being under threat – perhaps unfairly, as it was the board led by Ed Woodward who have let the fans down this summer.
With all that being said, it is now mostly down to the players to show mental strength and willingness to start turning things around, which could hopefully lead to Fantasy points for the likes of Marcus Rashford and Mason Greenwood, along with the usual suspect – Bruno Fernandes.