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Staff Takeaways: Leeds United 2-4 Manchester United

Thoughts from the staff on United’s win at Elland Road…

Leeds United v Manchester United - Premier League Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Pauly-

Just imagine what we could vs Leeds if we played them 11v11!

Colin- I’d like to see Elanga get a start at centre forward

No, this isn’t just because I think 7 has been really bad, I genuinely want to see Elanga get some minutes up top.

Antho 2.0 makes some decent runs and has good awareness of developing attacks, and his instincts in front of goal warrant the efforts to try and put him there more often. He whiffed on a chance soon after getting hit with a missile thrown by a Leeds fan (which I will use as the excuse for the weak shot towards the keeper), but later on he had a good run in behind that Ronaldo missed and played Wan-Bissaka instead. He finished off the game late with a great finish, and celebration to match.

He’s got the scorer’s instinct, and United will be in need of scorers up front for the rest of the season. If he can get the chance you’d expect him to take it.

Suwaid- Ralf has a big decision to make in midfield for the Champions League tie:

Scott McTominay’s done an admirable job in effectively replacing Nemanja Matic. He didn’t have the best game in possession today and showed some indiscipline but even his greatest critics will admit that he has to start by default and was on a good run of form prior to the winter break.

Paul Pogba might be United’s most in-form player heading into the big game. Some might suggest he should play in the wing/midfield hybrid role coming off the left. The Frenchman showed some of his qualities from that high and wide role when setting up Cristiano Ronaldo for a tap-in the first half but Jadon Sancho’s arguably been just as good as Paul Pogba in recent weeks and has played on the left during this run-in.

The man who replaced Paul Pogba in the 67th minute has also been in great form in a more advanced midfield role and was on the scoresheet today. Fred’s added more goals and assists to his game since Rangnick’s arrival and his combative energy should find a home against a wily Simeone side.

Bruno Fernandes has also been showing the form of old since the league game against Aston Villa. Some might suggest playing him as a false 9 based on the last 10 minutes today but Fernandes has never really been a player who can dribble or hold the ball for long periods to give the side some room to breathe. He tends to attempt little flicks as was evident in the fourth goal of the day. Leed’s man-marking scheme also makes it difficult to use those 10 mins as a takeaway for Fernandes as a 9. This would also mean dropping the greatest goalscorer in the competition's history.

Cristiano Ronaldo’s been a thorn in Diego Simeone’s side for almost a decade. Dropping him would cause the sort of uproar that Rangnick could do without. Despite a finishing slump in recent weeks, Ronaldo’s still getting on the end of chances. The goals usually come when you are on the end of the kind of chances Ronaldo’s missed in recent weeks. Rangnick cited Edinson Cavani’s willingness to work out of possession as a factor in his selection for the game against Burnley. Rangnick could cite similar reasons for dropping Ronaldo if he were to make that decision since Atleti are also the kind of side where this should be a consideration when picking a line-up.

There’s no perfect solution here but it does feel like a straight fight between Fred and Pogba. Both midfielders will feel hard-done-by if they're to sit on the bench at the Wanda Metropolitana for an extended period. On the other hand, it’s nice to have players hitting form at the right time.