Manchester United manager David Moyes recently made some comments suggesting that he's unsure about what his best side is:
"I'm still getting to know my players. I have several players back home who I've not met yet because of international duties. I don't have a starting XI for the Swansea game formulated in my head yet. We still have three games in Europe before the season starts. We'll look at it then."
That, of course, makes sense as a handful of first-team players are back in Manchester tending to various knocks or are being relieved from the strenuous travel of the club's current Asian and Australian pre-season tour after a summer of international duty. I'm sure, though, the Scot has a decent idea of what his best side might be.
This got me thinking that if, hypothetically, United had a title-decider this weekend versus either Manchester City or Chelsea or a massive European knock-out stage tie against a continental power such as Bayern Munich, Real Madrid, Barcelona, etc., what would your starting XI be? For this exercise and conversation, you can assume that each current first-team player is available for selection. I do understand that any future major summer signing(s) -- if one ever happens -- can severely alter selection choices. Nonetheless, I thought it would be a fun discussion.
Here's mine (4-2-3-1): David de Gea | Rafael, Rio Ferdinand, Nemanja Vidic, Patrice Evra | Phil Jones, Michael Carrick | Wilfried Zaha, Shinji Kagawa, Danny Welbeck | Robin van Persie
United simply don't have a midfield right now capable of competing with the top sides of Europe and because Moyes is already very good at tactically planning to be a reactive side for a 'big game', I think keeping the shape compact, letting Jones be a ball-winner against good midfields, and breaking down the flanks through the athleticism of Zaha and Welbeck might be a good approach. In addition, there could be some fluidity in the attacking-midfield band as the three deployed are capable of playing on either flank or through the middle -- and there have been signs on tour thus far that Moyes is stressing more fluidity from these positions in comparison to Sir Alex Ferguson's recent sides. Furthermore, if there's a deep-lying playmaker that is influential, Kagawa and Welbeck could easily switch roles as they did in the 2nd-half against Real Madrid at the Bernabeu so that the Englishman could get tight on Xabi Alonso.
Anyway, again, this is supposed to be a fun exercise and something to discuss over the weekend. Feel free to use the comments section below to express your thoughts. Enjoy!