It seems as if Louis van Gaal’s first choice defence will name itself going into the first game of the season.
Already beset by problems, Manchester United look as if they will be going into their Premier League opener with Tottenham Hotspur with a defence that looks as fragmented as it did at any point last season.
Antonio Valencia has not gotten the fitness he should have in order to be first choice and Rafael is on the verge of leaving the club, so new signing Matteo Darmian should start in his preferred position. Van Gaal has said that Valencia will be his first choice but Darmian will at least be given the opportunity to impress.
Phil Jones has not done his chances of being first choice any good in pre-season and concerns about his future remain. Chris Smalling, therefore, should start as the first choice right sided centre half after the failure to acquire Sergio Ramos.
Jones is unlikely to play as the left sided centre back either. Marcos Rojo could see himself as the main name here but after the problems with his passport, he has not taken part in pre-season. It is likely that he could also face a battle to get into the side from a disciplinary aspect.
And so Daley Blind – who has awkwardly filled in there in the last two pre-season games – will likely line up against the player who was arguably the revelation of last year, Harry Kane.
One bright spot, then, ought to be the likely inclusion of Luke Shaw, and the possibility that the young England star will start to really make that left back position his own. Shaw’s commitment to self improvement will not be lost on the manager and so he will likely be given a strong opportunity to play in the role from the off.
It remains doubtful that this will represent the Reds’ long term defence but it is likely that this is the selection which will start the campaign.