Ahead of United’s preseason game against Athletic Club on Sunday, Erik ten Hag was asked about his side’s Premier League opener against Wolves.
Erik ten Hag gives lineup hint for Premier League opener vs Wolves
A tough selection this season
Despite a rocky preseason, there are many positives for fans to take heading into 2023/24.
One that was particularly apparent against Lens on Saturday was that Alejandro Garnacho is looking electric and ready to tear up Premier League defences to an even greater extent this season. The Argentine, though, isn’t necessarily guaranteed a spot in Ten Hag’s lineup, with the likes of Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho, and Antony all competing for starting places on the wings.
Another is that the Red Devils have been shrewd in this summer’s transfer window, bringing in three top-quality players thus far who will all be in – or near – the starting team.
This means that it will be even harder for the Dutch boss to choose who will make his first 11 come the beginning of the campaign.
At right-back, it is, as ever, unclear who will be first-choice, with Diogo Dalot and Aaron Wan-Bissaka both providing copious amounts of quality in different areas. For more, Victor Lindelof’s impressive performances at the back end of last season have put him in competition with Raphael Varane to partner Lisandro Martinez in the heart of the defence.
In midfield, there are now a plethora of options, although fans will assume that Mason Mount will start alongside Bruno Fernandes and Casemiro.
And with Rasmus Hojlund and Anthony Martial both injured for the start of the campaign, team selection in the attack will be interesting. Marcus Rashford is capable of playing in the middle of the front three – and has done so at points during preseason – while Jadon Sancho was trialled as a number 10 this summer by Ten Hag, reportedly impressing the Dutchman with his apt adaption to the role.
What Ten Hag said about his lineup vs Wolves
Ahead of the game against Lens, Ten Hag had this to say about his lineup against Wolves for next Monday: “For next week, there are still one or two positions with considerations of who will start.”
That nine positions are already filled over a week before the game may come as a surprise, while one can only speculate as to where decisions still need to be made.
Likely the largest uncertainty will be in the attack, with Ten Hag having only recently found out about Hojlund’s injury. It is most likely that this will result in Marcus Rashford moving to the middle of the front three and leading the line, leaving his usual left-wing position up for grabs.
The other area with the most close-fought competition is at right-back, although the Dutch boss will have had all summer to think about which of his two options will best neutralise the threats and exploit the weaknesses of Wolves.