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If Mourinho Doesn't Know It Yet, What Is Man Utd's Best XI?

Mikey Traynor
By Mikey Traynor
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Last Thursday night as Manchester United won 2-0 over the mighty Zorya Luhansk, the post-match discussion and analysis centered around the continually impressive Henrikh Mkhitaryan, and whether or not he should be a nailed on starter as one of the first names on Jose Mourinho's team-sheet.

Both Paul Scholes and Michael Owen agreed that he should, and that he had to play against Spurs.

He did play. He scored the only goal of the game, and won man of the match, again.

So Mkhitaryan is in. His quick-thinking and dribbling at speed can be electrifying and will get the fans on their feet, but what about the rest of the team?

One point that always seems to pop up when Man Utd are being analysed is the idea that Jose Mourinho does not yet know his best team, so who should get in?

The formation seems set in stone, but while certain positions are nailed on, others are more difficult. We've broken it down, position by position based on performances so far this season.


Goalkeeper - David De Gea

Sergio Romero is a decent back-up, but there is no question here. At all.

Right Back - Antonio Valencia

Valencia has gone from one of Man Utd's most inconsistent performers, someone who looked reluctant to take a man on and awful in terms of defensive positioning.. To one of the club's most consistent performers, and a damn fine right back.

Darmian's first month at the club looked like the position would be his for the foreseeable future, but Valencia jumped on his chance after the Italian struggled with form and never looked back.


Centre Back - Eric Bailly

Looks to be a fantastic signing, and is already a fan-favourite. While Phil Jones has put in some very respectable performances over the past few weeks, there's no questioning that Bailly's ability on the ball, pace, and toughness get him into this team when fit.

Makes up for his moments of madness with interceptions and tackles that can spark the crowd into life.

Centre Back - Chris Smalling

While his form has dipped since last season, when he was one of the best defenders in the league, Smalling is still first choice when fit.


It's a shame that Bailly and Smalling haven't had a chance to form much of a relationship, and Daley Blind's near perfect fit alongside Bailly makes this closer call.

Left Back - Luke Shaw

Again, Daley Blind is asking questions as while he does not have the required pace to play as a modern full back, his passing and intelligence make him a useful option.


That said, while Shaw has yet to convince Mourinho with an extended run of form, his overlapping runs are key to getting the best out of Anthony Martial.


Centre Midfield - Ander Herrera

One of the easiest decisions to make based on his form this season. Herrera has gone up a level under Mourinho and is flourishing as a leader in the team.

Centre Midfield - Michael Carrick/Paul Pogba

It is absolutely obvious that Michael Carrick makes Manchester United more balanced, and therefor better as a team when he plays, but can you really leave Pogba out of the best lineup?

In the central midfield role, yes. Carrick and Herrera not only shield the back four from midfield runners and attacks through the middle, but they are capable of starting the attacking play from deep as well. Pogba can do this, but he regularly has lapses of concentration going the other way.


Against smaller teams you can get away with this, but Michael Carrick has to play in United's best team. But Pogba will be used here when Carrick needs a rest, but is there anything to be said for Daley Blind again?

Right Attacking Midfield - Henrikh Mkhitaryan

A month ago, the Armenian wouldn't have even been in the discussion, and yet here he is starting in the best possible XI.

Owen and Scholes were right, he needs to be playing. He can create something out of nothing and will get goals and assists if he gets a run in the team.


Centre Attacking Midfield - Juan Mata/Paul Pogba/Wayne Rooney


The most difficult of all other positions. We've put Juan Mata in for now, as the thought of him linking up and combining, and even inter-changing positions with Mkhitaryan is extremely exciting in terms of attractive football..

But Wayne Rooney has unquestionably improved, and is this Paul Pogba's best position? The Frenchman has shown an ability to get the best out of Zlatan Ibrahimovic when deployed close to the Swede, but Wayne Rooney is still the club captain.

Rooney would probably get the nod from the manager, but would the team flow better with Mata or Pogba?

Left Attacking Midfield - Anthony Martial

While he hasn't quite done enough this season to nail down that spot as his own, what he did last year when he was asked to decide matches on his own, and his recent upturn in form suggest he is the man for the job.

The alternative is Marcus Rashford, who is simply not as effective when played out wide, so Martial again should be seeing a lot of playing time.

Striker - Zlatan Ibrahimovic

Without quite hitting his stride yet, Ibrahimovic already has an impressive goalscoring record at the club. He has 7 goals in his last 6 games, and really has to play for his ability to find the net with regularity.

Again, Marcus Rashford is the next best option here, and a good one too. Having Zlatan around for another year also buys him more time to develop.

So there it is, our best effort, feel free to let us know of any changes you would make.

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