The major complain that Louis van Gaal has had since he assumed managerial responsibility at Manchester United is that the injury scare ravaging the team has left him with no other choice than to field the players that are available for selection. At some point in this season, he handed debuts to three of the reserve team players not because they were really ripe for such promotion but because they were the only options left to salvage the dire situation. Many pundits have found it difficult to assess Louis van Gaal’s ability since he is yet to have the luxury of harnessing the full strength of his squad. I will attempt the strongest possible starting (4-3-3) line-up which the manager will deploy given a squad of fully fit players.
Goalkeeper: The choice of David De Gea is a no brainer in this position. His performance this season alone has seen the club offer him a £120k/week deal and although he is yet to accept it, the management are willing to do everything to keep him from the clutches of Real Madrid who have been lurking around him. He is miles ahead of Anders Lindegaard and even if Victor Valdez gets a deal, De Gea will still maintain top spot.
Full-Backs: Right here, things will start to get a bit clumsy, the standard guess is Rafael on the right and Luke Shaw on the left. However in their absence, Antonio Valencia and Ashley Young have been doing a great job but if the manager has a fit squad, he’d most likely favour his natural full-backs.
Centre-Defence: Another tough decision, there are about four players who will keenly contest for the two available slots but Louis van Gaal loves dynamism, versatility and resilience and the guys that have continuously shown these traits are Marcos Rojo and Phil Jones. Chris Smalling comes very close to displacing Jones but a fit Jones is a beast that no manager will like to bench.
Defensive Midfield: Darren Fletcher, Oliveira Anderson, Daley Blind…. And it is the Dutch midfield maestro, Blind! The former Ajax man’s style of play gives an astute reminder of Roy Keane’s reliability in the heart of the midfield. Blind realises that his duty his to retrieve the ball once his team loses possession and also do his best to break the wave of opposition advances and he does that judiciously.
Attacking Midfield: Deciding who gets the slot in this position will be the most difficult for the manager. Louis van Gaal will have to choose between the aerial presence of Maroaune Fellaini and the sleekness of Ander Herrera. This decision will mostly depend on the nature of opponents that they are facing but with Fellaini’s recent form, a beast in the middle of the park seems very tempting. He will partner Angel Di Maria who is clearly the most creative player in the squad. Blind and Fellaini will do the dirty work leaving the Argentine enough space to work his magic. Linking up with the attack will require extreme discretion and Mata looks more that the best fit.
Striker: Radamel Falcao has never been really fit to fully assess him but with the way things are, Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie will get the nod.