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Ahead Of Our Game Against Cluj

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Thanks to our performances in the opening four games of the Champions League, we have been confirmed as top of the group of some time now. That has left us with two meaningless games, with us losing to Galatasaray away a couple of weeks ago and facing Cluj tonight. These games should be a good opportunity to play our youngsters as well as give minutes to those on the fringe of the team.

With nothing riding on our result tonight, it may feel like a fairly pointless occasion, but what will be telling is the line-up Fergie chooses to start with. We are likely to gain some idea of which players the manager will opt to start on derby day based on which players are missing tonight.

Ferguson likes to play our homegrown players in the games against our rivals, so if the likes of Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes and Darren Fletcher are missing tonight, you might well see them as part of a midfield three at the weekend. It’s unlikely that Carrick would be dropped for Sunday but with the starting line-up lottery, you just never know.

David de Gea should play against City, particularly after Anders Lindegaard’s horror show at Reading, but he will have been out of action for a month come Sunday. Ferguson might opt to give him 90 minutes against Cluj so he’s back in the swing of things for City.

Another inclusion for tonight who may also play on Sunday is Chris Smalling, who was brought on after just half an hour in place of Rafael da Silva. Rafael has been one of our best performing players last season so it was bad timing for him to lose his cool a week before derby day. Smalling’s height might also be useful, given how poor our marking has been from set pieces.

One player we know won’t be playing is Nemanja Vidic who, after returning from injury faster than first thought, isn’t quite fit enough to feature tonight. This should mean Jonny Evans retains his place in the starting XI for the weekend.

All our Champions League games have been a bit drab though. We sorted out qualification early enough but we’ve hardly set the world alight. It would be quite nice if we could actually see a decent game of football tonight, but I’ll settle for 90 minutes without injury.

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About Scott

Scott is the editor of Red Matters - 50 Years of Supporting Manchester United and an author of Play Like Fergie's Boys and Not Nineteen Forever. He writes for ESPN, The Metro and Bleacher Report. Follow @R_o_M on Twitter.

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  1. Poppycock says:

    Even though it’s a dead rubber, I do hope we win!

  2. Costas says:

    Hope Fergie was blaffing about Rooney playing.

  3. Dinos says:

    Not exactly relevant to the topic but i thought I’d share this:

    “Skysports understands Roberto Mancini is the favourite to replace Nigel Farrage as the leader of UKIP, after he successfully managed to pull his team out of Europe in rapid and humiliating fashion”.

  4. Gentlekez says:

    De Gea
    Woton Smaling Jones Buttner
    Powell cleverly Rooney
    Macheda chicharito Welbeck

  5. Niklas says:

    Potential starting 11′s for tonight

    De Gea
    Vermijl, Smalling, Jones, Büttner
    Cleverley, Fletcher
    Young, Rooney, Welbeck

    De Gea
    Smalling, Wooton, Jones, Büttner
    Cleverley, Fletcher, Powell
    Young, Rooney, Welbeck

    Since I didnt watch the last U21 game I don’t know who was rested and might be in for a spot in tonights game. But I certainly hope I’m wrong on some selections so we can bring some more kids into the side. The selections I made just now is more or less based on people who need games or to find their form.

  6. TC says:

    My team for this match would be a slightly experimental/theoretical one:

    De Gea
    Smalling Jones Wooton Buttner
    Rafael Cleverly Powell Giggs
    Rooney Welbeck

    Subs: Lindergaard, Evans, Fletcher, Macheda, Hernandez, Young and Carrick

    De Gea needs some game time before the derby (assuming lindergaard gets dropped after the debacle against reading)

    Smalling and Jones are still returning from injury so makes sense to give them game time.

    Rooney needs to keep his fitness up.

    Welbeck and Cleverly haven’t been as involved as of late/have been played out of position and so could do with a chance to stake their claim to their positions.

    Giggs for his experience and game time.

    Rafael gives us some attacking presence down the right with the defensive capabilities of smalling still there.

    Great chance for Powell to put his mark on the team.

    More experience for Wooton and chance for Buttner to prove he’s not here to sit and pick his nose as it were.

  7. Gee says:

    I really hope we see Scholes and Giggs start tonight!! Even tho I would prefer the kids to play tonight, I dont want the golden oldies near sundays starting eleven, impact subs is okay but NOT the starting line up. If SAF goes into the Derby and they are in the starting line up, WE WILL GET DICKED!! It’s not being defeatest, it’s being fucking realistic!! Im sorry but they are not big game players anymore, we need Clevs, Fletch and Carrick in the centre on sunday with Ando out injured, if SAF starts with 3 CM’s.

  8. rijah says:

    Does it make any sense playing Welbeck anymore? I don’t think he is going to improve or start scoring goals for united any time soon. I would pray for Sir Alex to play more youngsters in midfield with Rooney and Hernandez in the attack. GGMU…


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