Can Manchester United avert another crisis?
While losing to Newcastle isn’t a disgrace, the performance raised concerns, prompting an inquest. In a throwback to the Fergie years, the communications director, responding to critical stories about Erik ten Hag, barred journalists from the press conference.
This move could amplify the noise around United, a club desperately in need of structural changes. If United manages to defeat Chelsea, it might serve as a temporary respite for the communications department.
Will Ten Hag make the right choices for his team?
Criticism has been directed at United for perceived attempts to bully journalists, echoing the players’ experience at St James’ Park. However, the Newcastle debacle was primarily attributed to questionable selections by Ten Hag.
His clashes with Anthony Martial and delayed substitutions fueled the chaos. Martial and Marcus Rashford shouldn’t have started against Newcastle and should be excluded this evening.
Ten Hag has displayed ruthlessness with other players but hasn’t dropped Rashford, who has scored only one goal from open play in 18 club games this season. Rasmus Hojlund and Antony should be in the starting lineup.
Time to reintroduce Varane?
Despite facing 62 attempts on goal in the last three games, United’s most decorated defender, Raphael Varane, was inexplicably absent.
The trio of Jonny Evans, Victor Lindelof, and Luke Shaw has been preferred over Varane, and United still struggles with a negative goal difference in the Premier League and Champions League.
Varane, with his experience and organizing skills, was one of United’s top performers last season. Given the freezing temperatures, bringing him back into the fold would be a wise move.
Who will be in the midfield?
United will face midfielders worth £222 million in Moises Caicedo and Enzo Fernandez but will be without their headline signing from Chelsea, Mason Mount.
The midfield issues persisted at Newcastle, with Kobbie Mainoo and Scott McTominay overwhelmed. There is no clear solution, and United might need to thrive on chaos in the clash of the clubs.
While United’s away supporters remained supportive at Newcastle, there has been simmering discontent at Old Trafford this season.
Boos have accompanied many games, and the cheers for removing Rashford and Martial in successive home defeats indicate dissatisfaction.
The Chelsea match kicks off a crucial week with three home games. The fans will rally behind the team if they witness sufficient effort and desire, qualities lacking in some performances this term.