Manchester United Football Club’s season now rests on the Europa League double-header against Celta Vigo. The Red Devils dropped another couple of needless points at home today, with Swansea City coming to Old Trafford and leaving with a 1-1 draw; a situation that has happened far too many times this season.
During the game against the Welsh team, United’s injury problems worsened as both Eric Bailly and Luke Shaw limped off. That certainly leaves the self-proclaimed Special One looking rather thin on the ground in terms of defensive options right now.
We’re still without the services of the English duo Phil Jones and Chris Smalling, and it doesn’t look like they’ll be back in time for the Europa League game in Spain this coming Thursday, according to the manager.
“I don’t think they will,” he replied, quoted by FourFourTwo.
“That’s my personal opinion. I don’t think they will. But I know the players I do choose, they give everything. “
“So [it] doesn’t matter if I go with [full-back Matteo] Darmian as central defender, if I go with [veteran midfielder Michael] Carrick, [or] if I go with Axel [Tuanzebe],” he added, referring to the untested youngster.”
“I trust the boys, they give everything. The spirit is amazing, the group is phenomenal. [Marouane] Fellaini and [Paul] Pogba, they will be back for that game. So, a little bit more options. And with everything we have, we try. We go until the end.”
This must be turning into a huge concern. We finished today’s game with a back four of Ashley Young, Matteo Darmian, Daley Blind and Antonio Valencia – with Axel Tuanzebe on the bench.
I could also sense a little dig aimed at both Jones and Smalling in the post-match presser, as the manager has asked the pair to do all they can to get back, but without any response so far.
To be fair, whoever has played back there we have looked pretty solid. I’d absolutely love to see Axel Tuanzebe thrown into the fire against Celta, and that would be a real test of his ability; but I fully believe he has what it takes to succeed here.
We could also see Michael Carrick play back there, particularly with Paul Pogba and Marouane Fellaini set to return.