With Premier League action returning this weekend, Manchester United are hosting Newcastle United at Old Trafford on Saturday afternoon. However, this game will be remembered as Cristiano Ronaldo’s second debut in United colours, after the 36-year-old’s transfer from Juventus on deadline day.
With the Portuguese star joining the squad, Ole Gunnar Solskjær now has a remarkably strong frontline at his disposal. When everyone is fit, the likes of Mason Greenwood, Paul Pogba, Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho, Edinson Cavani and Cristiano Ronaldo will be fighting it out to consistently start matches for The Reds. Then you also have Amad, Anthony Martial and Anthony Elanga also providing further competition.
It’s stern competition in the frontline and that will inevitably mean that great players will miss out at times. It was going to happen before Ronaldo’s spectacular return to the club, and it is only elevated afterwards. With the Newcastle game on the horizon, the personnel in the front three will be the most anticipated thing. Here is who could be operating in the frontline on Saturday.
It’s quite crazy to think that in a team with Cristiano Ronaldo, it is a 19-year-old who the nailed-on starter in a Manchester United line-up. The teenager scored three goals in the opening three fixtures of the season and was awarded the club’s Player of the Month for August. He’s definitely going to start in this matchup.
The question bares whether it’ll be through the centre, where he operated during wins against Leeds United and Wolves, or on the right-side. The latter is the more likely for the youngster even though he has impressed so far this season centrally.Embed from Getty Images
Greenwood’s goal against Wolves – which is analysed in this article – is a great example of what he can do when he drifts across to the right flank (or is already operating there). As United’s most in-form player, Greenwood will be looking to continue his impressive start to the season in this match.
After registering five assists in the opening two matches of the season (a feat no other Premier League player in history has done), Paul Pogba was demoted to a deeper role against Wolves to accommodate the first start for Jadon Sancho. The £73 million signing didn’t have a great match and was substituted after 72 minutes, it is also currently unknown whether he will be fit to play after leaving the England camp early with a slight knock.
It seems clear that Pogba offers the team so much more when operating from the left side of attack. It allows him to drift inside and work his magic in the final third, rather than being stuck in deeper areas for the most part and having his defensive fragilities highlighted. Solskjær should look to put the Frenchman back in the position where he was so incredible in the first two matches.Embed from Getty Images
While it’s obvious that the Frenchman will have to play some games as a central midfielder, especially due to the lack of depth in the position, you’d imagine that this will be the case more so when Sancho has found his feet in the league. At the moment, Pogba is the best option as the ‘creator’ in the frontline.
Ronaldo reported to Carrington today and took part in his first training session with the squad. This gives him four days of training before the match on the weekend.
He’s in goalscoring form after netting two for Portugal against Republic of Ireland to secure yet another record and will be desperate to start the match against the only team that he scored a hattrick against for Manchester United the first time. Ronaldo has scored six goals against The Magpies and will be ready to increase that statistic on Saturday.Embed from Getty Images
Even though Solskjær chose to slowly integrate Raphaël Varane and Sancho, It’s likely that he’ll go a different route with Ronaldo, who is already fully fit and there’s no doubt that the manager will realise the boost that Ronaldo starting the game will give all of Old Trafford.
A front three of Greenwood, Ronaldo and Pogba is one that has great creativity and also a major goalscoring threat. It’s the best possible front three for the game against Newcastle and should help the team get the three points. The attention should also be on who will start in the centre of midfield. Does Donny van de Beek deserve to start?