Although there are still three Premier League games for Man United to tackle before they step out at Wembley against neighbours Man City, the carrot of a first-ever all Manchester FA Cup final will surely be whetting the appetite of many players from both sides.
Though domestic competitions appear to have lost some lustre over the years, a titanic tussle between the two north west giants is expected and the showpiece is likely to produce one of the most watchable finals for years.
The Red Devils have the added incentive of potentially being the team that ends Man City’s treble aspirations too, and Stan Collymore thinks that there’s all to play for in terms of getting a place in the starting XI.
“You could argue there will be two, maybe three positions, up for grabs in Man United’s squad; one of which being who will start as the left-winger,” Collymore said in an exclusive CaughtOffside interview.
“You would assume that Wout Weghorst won’t be trusted to lead the line, so Marcus Rashford is likely to start up top with Antony on the right-hand side, and if that is the case, it would mean either Jadon Sancho or Alejandro Garnacho starts on the left.”
It’s a delicate balancing act that Erik ten Hag will have to undertake given the enormity of the task ahead of him.
Having already guided his team to one final – and won it – this season, the Dutchman clearly has what it takes in terms of mentality, decision making under pressure and the ability to ensure his team hang in there in the big moments.
Ultimately, however, his choices on the day could reflect well or badly, and Collymore believes that one player in particular has to get the nod.
“Personally, although I am a big fan of Sancho, I would start with Garnacho,” he added.
“He’s young, quick and very technical so I think he’d provide the likes of Kyle Walker with a lot more to contend with. Garnacho is Man United’s maverick; unlike Sancho, he is arrogant and bursting with confidence, and although an occasion as big as the FA Cup final may overwhelm some players, I see the young Argentine thriving in that kind of environment.”
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