Predicted XI: Cardiff City vs Manchester United

by Leo Nieboer

Newly appointed Manchester United caretaker manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will restore Paul Pogba to the starting XI in a more attack-minded 4-2-3-1 set-up against Cardiff City on Saturday.

The Frenchman had been left out of the starting XI in Jose Mourinho’s last three Premier League games – and was not even brought from the bench against Liverpool.

But as Solskjaer noted recently, this team has now been granted a ‘blank slate’, and as such will hopefully play without fear against Cardiff with an attacking emphasis.

With that in mind, here is what we think the Norwegian’s first starting XI as Man United manager will be.



How does Solskjaer, following just a couple of days with his players, introduce a more attacking, aggressive style of play against Cardiff?

He will want to make more fundamental changes over time but there are things which can be done straight off the bat. For instance: playing higher up the pitch. United under Mourinho never gave enough support to attacking players because there was always the requirement to revert to the default defensive shape once they lost the ball. Solskjaer should ask his players to pressure Cardiff’s back four and play aggressively to win possession in their half, immediately putting United on the front foot.

This is why a 4-2-3-1 system – something he used regularly with Molde – would work well because it prevents a bogged down midfield devoid of movement. With Ander Herrera winning possession, Paul Pogba driving forward, Juan Mata linking it all together for Marcus Rashford, Jesse Lingard and Anthony Martial, we may well see a very different United team.

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