The pressure is firmly back on Louis van Gaal as Manchester United prepare to host West Ham United in the FA Cup quarter-finals on Sunday afternoon.
After Thursday’s demoralising 2-0 defeat to arch rivals Liverpool in the Europa League, this represents United’s best chance of saving their season with a trophy.
But the Hammers will provide very stern opposition. They are fifth in the Premier League table – above the Red Devils – and are eyeing silverware themselves.
Van Gaal got it wrong at Anfield in midweek. Here, CaughtOffside names the lineup which the Dutchman must pick if he wants a better result at Old Trafford.
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GK: David de Gea
Stated his case to be considered the best goalkeeper in the Premier League with another magnificent display against Liverpool. Without the Spaniard, it could have been total humiliation.
RB: Guillermo Varela
Van Gaal seemed to task Varela with man-marking Philippe Coutinho at Anfield, which did not work. Just let the youngster get on with the simple things, as he had been playing well prior to Thursday.
CB: Chris Smalling
Red Devils legend Paul Scholes told the Daily Mail that his former club are lacking leaders. Smalling has taken great strides under Van Gaal – one of the few – but must now step up in this regard.
CB: Daley Blind
Finished the midweek game at left-wing back, as if reverting to that tactic was the answer for United. Might not be the commanding defender that the team need, but he is doing a decent job.
LB: Marcus Rojo
The Argentine international is poised for a fifth game in 14 days after a three-month layoff – a tough ask. To make it tougher, it will be his job to keep tabs on in-form Hammers winger Michail Antonio.
CM: Michael Carrick
Played as part of a back three upon his introduction as a half-time substitute at Anfield. Simply must be used in his natural midfield position to give the Red Devils some forward impetus with their passing.
CM: Morgan Schneiderlin
The Frenchman is lucky that he only makes our lineup because of Juan Mata’s suspension – with Ander Herrera needed further upfield. Marouane Fellaini cannot be used in this role ever again.
AMR: Jesse Lingard
Memphis Depay proved that, despite a couple of bright recent performances, he cannot be relied upon to be consistent, or do his defensive duties, as he gave away the penalty which got Liverpool rolling. United will need everybody to do a job for the team against West Ham, and Lingard is a safer bet.
AMC: Ander Herrera
Mata’s ban leaves a hole for Van Gaal to fill in the No.10 role. Herrera is more productive in deeper position, making late runs into the box, but his combative nature will help beef up United’s midfield.
AML: Anthony Martial
With captain Wayne Rooney still sidelined, Martial must continue to lead the Red Devils attack. He is only 20, and in his first season in England, but that is the position that United have got themselves in.
ST: Marcus Rashford
Van Gaal has unfairly messed the youngster around. Since his double on Premier League debut against Arsenal, Rashford has been swapped from striker, to winger, and even to full-back. Just stick the lad up front and cross your fingers that he can repeat the exploits which made him a hero a few weeks ago.
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