By Alex Wilson
- Five United stars playing for their futures whoever is the manager next season
Whoever is at the helm of Manchester United next season, they have some tough decisions ahead in terms of selection. Here are five players who are quite possibly playing for their future in the first team next season.
Jones has missed much of the season due to injury, and in his absence (and the absence of a few others in defence) many new and exciting prospects have emerged and made an impression on both fans and the manager.
Such names include; Timothy Fosu-Mensah, Guillermo Varela, Cameron Borthwick-Jackson and Donald Love.
The central pairing of Smalling and Blind has been very successful for the reds this season, and Van Gaal has seldom opted to change this unless forced to do so by injury problems. One can only assume this setup will continue next season.
Luke Shaw will surely resume his role as first choice left-back upon return from injury. This may force Marcos Rojo to the bench, and leave Jones and Rojo fighting for opportunities to provide defensive back-up.
The irony is that United have struggled for defenders all season, and now looking ahead to next season, it seems as though they may have a surplus.
Really, it could’ve been Jones or Rojo on this list, but due to his prolonged absence, I’ve gone for Jones to be potentially left out next season.
After success in the Eredivisie with PSV, the young Dutch winger has been restricted to watching games from the bench more often than not this season for United.
Fellow summer signing Anthony Martial has the ability to play on the left – Memphis’ position – to make room for Rooney or Rashford up front, which has seen Memphis left out of the frame altogether.
Memphis has shown flashes of excellence for United this season, but these flashes have been separated by spells of indifferent performances and then spells on the bench as a consequence.
The main thing to remember with Memphis is his age, being only 22 years old he has so much ahead of him that it would be ignorant to write him off so quickly.
However, if he doesn’t get the chance at consistent first team football due to other players coming ahead in the pecking order, he may feel unsettled and seek a way out.
The same situation happened with Di Maria last year. Despite enjoying so much success with Real Madrid, Ashley Young’s in form performances kept Di Maria on the bench and he then left for PSG in the summer. Is the number 7 shirt now cursed?
Perhaps one of the less obvious on the list after his recent performances, scoring 5 goals in 8 starts for United, but Rashford may need to continue with this form if he is to keep fellow strikers from replacing him on the team sheet next season.
The reason is, of course, the availability of a fully fresh squad next season, with the likes of Rooney coming back from injury.
Even when Rooney’s form was poor during patches this season, Van Gaal had the commitment to keeping him in the starting line-up and persisted with him in the number 9 role too until his recent injury.
Also, recently there has been speculation regarding Zlatan Ibrahimovic being linked with a move to Old Trafford. Current United player Mata has gone as far to say he’d be welcomed to the squad.
Whether or not this is merely rumours, there is a possibility of the club bringing in a star forward in the summer and any big money player will be expecting game time.
United’s manager next season faces a tough decision between sticking with the kids, who have so far proven their worth to the club, or to buy experienced title-winning players in an effort to boost their campaign to seriously challenge for the league again.
Fellaini was brought to the club under David Moyes as the Scot obviously admired him during their time at Everton, but with Moyes gone and almost 3 seasons later he still hasn’t settled with the fans completely.
The Belgian midfielder is generally brought on for impact in situations where his height advantage can be used. United players fire long balls up to him to head on or touch on his chest; a tactic that rarely sees much success and mostly brings out a rage in the fans.
When he starts games, he is prone to conceding fouls and doesn’t make much of an impact. Despite this, LVG has on more than one occasion defended the player’s qualities.
If another manager were to be at the club next season, would Fellaini manage another season at the club?
When you consider the likes of Schneiderlin, Herrera, Carrick and Schweinsteiger (when fit) as direct competition for Fellaini, it’s clear to see that if he is to be left on the bench or leave the club there is sufficient quality for cover.
With his contract running out in the summer and no talks currently underway to negotiate an extension, Carrick’s future at Old Trafford remains unclear.
Rumour has it that discussions of Carrick’s contract are being postponed until it is confirmed who will be the manager at Old Trafford next season.
Carrick has been involved in the starting line-up for the majority of the season, at the best of times he’s been able to dictate play and deliver quality balls for the attackers to feed off.
He’s made 33 appearances and 25 starts this season, which, at 34 years old is quite impressive and clearly shows that he is still a wanted presence in the squad.
Although it does seem likely that Carrick will stay at United, the relaxed attitude of the club to get negotiations underway are enough to make fans uneasy.
Whoever is managing United next year will have the biggest say in Carrick’s involvement next season. Even if his contract is renewed, his place in the first team isn’t a formality.