Gary Neville names his best XI at Man United with two surprising omissions

by Leo Nieboer

Gary Neville has excluded Wayne Rooney and Zlatan Ibrahimovic from his preferred starting XI at Manchester United.

The former right-back also excluded Luke Shaw from his back four, opting for Daley Blind to accompany Eric Bailly, Chris Smalling and Antonio Valencia.

And despite working closely with Rooney for a number of years, the 31-year-old has been sidelined in order to make room for a midfield trio of Michael Carrick, Ander Herrera and Paul Pogba.

Zlatan, who has netted eight goals this season, has been left out of an attack comprising of Marcus Rashford, Antony Martial and the incessantly overlooked Henrikh Mkhitaryan.

“Well, David De Gea is the easy one in goal. I would then pick Antonio Valencia, Chris Smalling, Eric Bailly and probably Daley Blind at left-back at this moment in time,” Neville said.

“I would then have Paul Pogba to the left in midfield, Michael Carrick, Ander Herrera in there. Then ahead of them, I’d have Henrikh Mikhtaryan to the right and then….Anthony Martial to the left and Marcus Rashford up front.

“When I see Marcus Rashford and Jesse Lingard on the pitch, it makes me feel proud that Manchester United can be true to itself and its principles.”

Neville, throughout his 19-year career at Man United, always featured in a side that placed emphasis on fast, ruthless, dynamic attacking displays. No meandering build-ups, just straight for the jugular from the first to last whistle.

This is exactly why Rooney and Zlatan have suffered omission here. Neville knows full well that succeeding at this level requires ruthless levels of conviction and power going forward, and placing two players bereft of running power at the heart of United’s attack is, to Neville at least, hugely detrimental.

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