If he changes his role, it could give Man United a benefit against Man City

If he changes his role, it could give Man United a benefit against Man City

Anthony Martial hesitated to press during a portion of the Manchester derby at Old Trafford, and Manchester United fans became audibly agitated.

It turned out that Martial had suffered an injury, as he did not return for the second half. He did not return to United until April.

Wout Weghorst was observing from the directors’ balcony on his first day at the stadium. At the end of the game, Weghorst moved away from his assigned position, eager to take it all in as Raphael Varane transformed into a cheerleader in front of the opposing stand.

Weghorst started the next 19 United games in Martial’s absence, but his selection in Saturday’s FA Cup final would be comparable to Jim Leighton’s demotion. Weghorst has started one of the last 14 games since his sloppy performance against Newcastle, and he has scored two goals in 30 United games, both of which were easy tap-ins with the goalkeeper on the ground.

In United’s final Premier League match, Weghorst sliced Jadon Sancho’s precise cross wide of the goal. As soon as Weghorst raised his face from the ground, he peered at the spectators and shook his head.

Erling Haaland and Julian Alvarez are City’s No. United’s are Anthony Martial and Wout Weghorst. That is the distance between the organizations.

City scored 36 more goals in the Premier League than United. Haaland has 52 goals this season, nine fewer than United’s top 14 scorers combined.

Rashford and Bruno Fernandes are ranked first and second in United’s scoring rankings, but in the opposite order from two years ago.

This effectively ensured that Rashford received the statue of Sir Matt Busby on Monday evening. He was also chosen by his colleagues, who were undoubtedly impressed by his recovery from a difficult 2021-22 season. This season, Rashford has scored six times as many goals.

As his agent may have mentioned during contract negotiations, Fernandes was the obvious recipient in his first complete season due to his impressive statistics: 28 goals and 17 assists, totaling 45 goal contributions.

This has been Fernandes’ finest season. He has captained United for the majority of the season and dispelled concerns that he was not a suitable leader, with the exception of his performance at Anfield.

United’s football director John Murtough and chief executive Richard Arnold stopped to congratulate Fernandes in the Old Trafford tunnel after the semi-final victory over Nottingham Forest. Both admired United’s de facto commander, whose mentality Erik ten Hag was destined to adopt.

Ten Hag has put this mentality to the test through Fernandes’ duty changes. Seven times he has started on the right flank, and it seems inevitable that he will do so again in the FA Cup final.

Each time he has moved to the flank for United, Fernandes has had a significant impact. The initial accommodation was made for Donny van de Beek, of all persons. Fernandes’ flick-on from David de Gea’s goal kick allowed Cristiano Ronaldo to maneuver and set up Alejandro Garnacho’s goal against Real Sociedad, rather than feel offended.

Van de Beek failed his trial as Fernandes’ replacement at Villa Park three days later, but remained the No. 10 for the League Cup rematch four days later. Still on the right wing, Fernandes crossed for Martial to equalize and score the game-winning goal. Last month, he scored the only goal when Villa visited Old Trafford in league play.

So misleading is statistical padding. More memorable are Fernandes’ contributions in games in which he has neither scored nor assisted. In the opening 30 seconds at Barcelona, he set the tone for United’s fearless performance and gifted Weghorst a one-on-one opportunity that he squandered in typical fashion. Rashford and Antony both found the upright using passes from Fernandes during the sluggish loss at West Ham.

With limited training time before Saturday’s 3:00 p.m. kickoff, Antony will be challenged to start the FA Cup final. Fernandes might have switched flanks if Antony was completely healthy, but as the Brazilian is nursing an ankle injury, Antony is the obvious choice.

Rashford is required in the midfield at Wembley, despite the fact that Ten Hag may keep City guessing.

Jadon Sancho would be a natural fit on the left side of the field, but he has been more successful on the right. Fernandes is intelligent enough to provide creativity from the left flank and is not a runner capable of testing Kyle Walker, which could throw City off.

United would also have the option to transfer Fernandes and Sancho, while potentially granting Rashford free agency. Fernandes has played without a striker against City before, albeit unsuccessfully. United was defeated 4-1, and Rashford was left on the bench.

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However, Fernandes was not bashful about exerting pressure.

The beginning of Fernandes begins on the right:

Group stage of the Europa League: Real Sociedad 0-1 United

United defeated Aston Villa 4-2 in the third round of the League Cup (one goal and one assist).

United beat Bournemouth 3-0 in the Premier League (one assist).

United defeated City 2-1 with one goal scored.

During the Europa League playoff, Barcelona and United tied 2-2.

United defeated Leicester, 3-0, in the Premier League (two assists).

United topped Aston Villa, 1-0, in the Premier League.

United defeated West Ham 1-0 in the Premier League.

If he changes his role, it could give Man United a benefit against Man City