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Manchester United need to buckle up ahead of the fixture pile up this month

Tuesday 12th September 2017
Saturday proved a discouraging affair for Jose Mourinho's Manchester United when they traveled to the Bet 365 Stadium. While everyone expected that United will carry on that exhilarating form and energy which they showed in the previous three league games but, their expectations were dampened as United were held by a resilient Stoke City side.

Manchester United came to Stoke City looking for their fourth consecutive win since the start of the season. But, Stoke City provided a wakeup call for United ahead for their busy fixture schedule. Stoke exposed United's defensive frailties by scoring two goals. United conceded for the first this season courtesy of faulty defending.

The result against Stoke City means there is still some work to be done. Manchester United still tops the Premier League table after four league games with 10 points (W3, D1). But, they need to be consistent in delivering the right results. So, Manchester United needs to buckle up for the busy fixture schedule they're going to face this month.

Fixture congestion - Seven games in the span of 22 days

Well, that can be exasperating literally. They have already played away to Stoke City last weekend. United are back in Champions League after a year's absence. Now they face two important group stage games starting this week against Basel and later a long trip to Moscow. In between they have three tricky fixtures – A home game against Everton in which they will be reunited with Rooney but in different colors, then a Carabao Cup fixture against Burton Albion, and then a trip to Southampton. And finally, they will wrap up the month by welcoming the struggling Crystal Palace.

Squad rotation

As the club is involved in the Champions League, squad rotation becomes essential because there are multiple games involved in a week and players might get drained. Jose needs to be shrewd and insightful. He must choose his best playing XI. I think he's still indistinct between Rashford and Martial. To be honest that's understandable because they're both performing and giving out their all on the field. They both deserve to be in the squad. Mourinho just has to redefine their positions.
To help things out Jose could put more emphasis on Mata, he needs to involve more. He is a kind of player that his presence may not make him the most indispensable player but, his absence is terribly felt in the creative department. So, Jose should make him available for those crucial matches.

Mourinho is also yet to play club captain Michael Carrick this season. Maybe he has saved him for the right time. Michael Carrick's experience could be crucial in Champions League games. Also, the new summer recruit Lindelof is yet to feature in a game and Jose has confirmed that he will start alongside Smalling in the first Champions League game against Basel. As Jose's first choice center half's Jones and Bailly are suspended so, there aren't many options left for him to consider.

Luke Shaw, Axel Tuanzebe, and Matteo Darmian will add more dimensions to the wide defensive areas. And United are thick on the ground in central and wide midfield areas. There is still time before Zlatan comes back from the Injury so Jose just has Romelu Lukaku in the form of a ‘pure striker' and the Belgian has played every minute of the game for United this season. He certainly has to be shuffled with some other forward. So, Jose has to consider either Rashford or Martial as a striker during this period of fixture congestion.

United have everything they need to challenge on all fronts. It's just the matter of man management and getting the desired results.

‘Wake me up when September ends'. Well, NO! No way, at least for all the football fans, who are always bouncing off the walls for the Champions League. Well, in that case just ask any Manchester United fan like me that how good it is to be back in the elite competition? Feels like heaven!
Zaid Pathan

A huge fan of Peter Drury's bombastic post-goal narration and an ardent football follower since his teens, Zaid believes the beautiful game is the best mode of escape from the daily hustle and bustle. He particularly loves to watch the Premier League and wants English clubs to dominate Europe again.

“Life may or may not be beautiful, but football surely is”

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