Cristiano Ronaldo is set to make his big return to Old Trafford when Manchester United welcome Newcastle United on Saturday.
Manchester United will be looking to continue their unbeaten start to the 2021/22 season when they play hosts to Newcastle United at Old Trafford on Saturday afternoon. And Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has a few first-team players unavailable for the visit of the Magpies.
Marcus Rashford, Phil Jones, Alex Telles and Dean Henderson are all on the sidelines and are not expected to take the field against Newcastle. In addition, there has been some confusion whether Fred will be allowed to feature after the initial five-day suspension imposed by FIFA on Brazilian players due to the Premier League’s decision to not let them join up with the national team.
During his pre-match press conference, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has suggested that Manchester United have been preparing for the game without Fred while revealing his frustration over the decision to ban him.
The Manchester United boss said, “I think it’s a lose-lose-lose situation for everyone: national teams, players, clubs. It’s been a farce, really. The players want to play but we all know what kind of situation we find ourselves in the last year-and-a-half with the pandemic, the travels and everyone trying to limit the spread of the virus.”
“They want to play for their national teams, they want to play for their clubs, but they’re not allowed. For me, I’m disappointed with whole thing. Common sense might not be so common anymore. We need to prepare for the game without Fred but still, fingers crossed, that some sense can come into people’s minds and that we can use him.”
So, for all intents and purposes, it looks like Fred might not be a part of the starting lineup against Newcastle, with Nemanja Matic likely to be drafted in his place, seeing as Scott McTominay is still not fully fit. Matic could have Donny van de Beek as his central midfield partner in the double pivot, with Paul Pogba likely to move further up the pitch into the left wing slot.
The big talking point ahead of the match has been the return of Cristiano Ronaldo. And speaking to the Manchester United media, Solskjaer confirmed that Ronaldo will make his second debut for the club, saying, “He’s been having a good pre-season with Juventus. He’s played for the national team, he’s had a good week with us here. He’ll definitely be on the pitch at some point, that’s for sure.”
While Solskjaer was coy on Ronaldo’s involvement, it is likely that he will feature from the get-go, leading the line for Manchester United, with Bruno Fernandes playing off of him. Mason Greenwood will be the final man in the attacking unit, meaning Jadon Sancho drops out.
At the back, Raphael Varane is set for his home debut for Manchester United and he will pair up with Harry Maguire once again. Luke Shaw and Aaron Wan-Bissaka will be the two full-backs, with David de Gea a certainty in goal.
Manchester United Predicted XI: de Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Varane, Maguire, Shaw; van de Beek, Matic; Greenwood, Bruno Fernandes, Pogba; Ronaldo