Sunday’s 1-1 draw with West Ham United acted as the tipping point for several supporters and onlookers.
It was the fourth successive home draw in the Premier League for Manchester United, leaving them 11 points adrift of leaders Chelsea. And it was also the result that led to many writing off Jose Mourinho’s side as title contenders.
Man United have a chance to respond in perhaps the perfect way. The same opponent, at Old Trafford, just three days later – almost as if the footballing gods went: “That was hilarious, wasn’t it? Watching United fail to break down a relegation threatened side at home – let’s do it again, shall we?”
But in all seriousness, this is an excellent chance for United to exercise the psychological demons that emerged from Sunday’s draw. Here are three players that simply must start on Wednesday.
With next Sunday’s encounter with Everton – United’s fourth game in eleven days – looming, Mourinho will be reluctant to use the same back four that featured on Sunday. And with Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo both in need of a rest, this feels like the perfect time to give Fosu-Mensah a chance to impress at the back.
The German was a surprise inclusion in Mourinho’s match-day squad on Sunday and his sudden involvement could act as a precursor for an opportunity to impress on Wednesday night. United, for all their domination, lacked a sense of poise and direction against Slaven Bilic’s side, and Schweinsteiger’s presence would provide some much-needed control at the base of midfield.
Martial has suffered a dramatic drop in confidence over the past couple of weeks: excluded from the France side, hooked off after a poor performance against Arsenal, and now unsure of his place in Mourinho’s hierarchy. One feels as if the Frenchman needs a chance to impose himself, to really take control of a game and make it his own. Wednesday’s League Cup game, with the likes of Marcus Rashford and Jesse Lingard unlikely to start, feels like the perfect opportunity.