Manchester United head to the Stadium of Light to continue their turn of style of play in the lunch time kick off against Sunderland.
Midweek speculation of Mourinho agreeing to join Man United in the summer has been squashed by Louis Van Gaal who maintains his stance of he is not leaving and he will still be in charge due to the three year contract he signed by the club. He states he has the full support of the Glazers and the chairman Ed Woodward and that no approach has been made to Mourinho as he believes the board members have the faith in him.
Further off the field, Woodward announced solid financial figures to potential and current investors and partners of club with United forecasting to bring in more than £500m in revenue. The financial power at the club is growing however, the on field performances will need to be improved if these forecasts are proved to be correct. In the summer, there will be much more spending and Woodward stated there will be a different approach towards the youth set-up and recruiting of global football superstars.
On the field, United let themselves down late on against Chelsea when Diego Costa equalised in injury time. The performance at Stamford Bridge showed a much improved team effort with Borthwick-Jackson and Darmian getting room to go forward and cross the ball into the box. So there are signs of changes to the style of play Van Gaal is adapting for more attacking football. This makes the fans happy as they would like the old style of United, being fearless and ruthless in attack. They take on Sam Allardyce’s Sunderland who are in the relegation battle, four points from safety of rock bottom of the table.
Sunderland has failed to keep a clean sheet in the last 11 matches and this is a concern for Allardyce to address. He needs his defenders to be solid at the back and provide the stability to create chances up front. It does not help with the club having many injuries and a lack of attackers and they have terminated Adam Johnson’s contract. So it will be a difficult period for the Black Cats who need to collect as many points as possible to avoid facing the drop.
Van Gaal has included Will Keane in the match squad after an impressive spell in the reserves. United will still be without Schweinsteiger, Shaw, Rojo, Valencia and Young. Varela, Phil Jones and Januzaj picked up knocks during the under-21 side. Sunderland will be without Kaboul and Watmore. Lens is out with a hernia problem. Borini remains doubtful.
Martial has been influential on the left wing and looks like he is settling into the Premier League well with three assists and a goal in his last three games. He is linking up well with Rooney and Rooney has been scoring too. If the tempo of the play is quick and direct, United end up playing like a counter attack. The speed of the attack has slowed down as players such as Lingard and Mata are not natural wide players and like to cut inside. There has been the width missing but the full backs are making up for that. Memphis played in the U21’s and showed some of his best qualities and he will need a confidence boost to get into the starting line-up. The midfield could be rotated with Fellaini, Carrick and Schneiderlin available to select from.
United will need to cut the six points gap from top four as the teams in the top four play on Super Sunday where points may be dropped. Here is an opportunity to go all out against Sunderland as the next fixture in the league is against Arsenal.
Possible starting XI:
Sunderland; Mannone, Yedlin, O’Shea, Brown, Van Aanholt, Rodwell, Kone, M’Vila, Cattermole, N’Doye, Defore.
Man Utd; De Gea, Darmian, Smalling, Blind, Borthwick-Jackson, Carrick, Fellaini, Mata, Herrera, Martial, Rooney.