Now that the winter break and the January transfer window are over, it’s time to return to action. Manchester United boss Ralf Rangnick is currently preparing his team for their FA Cup clash with Middlesbrough on Friday night, with his team looking set to make it to the fifth round of the competition. So, when that is the case, Express Sport will now take a look at the best possible XI the German can expose for the upcoming matches ahead.
Goalkeeper: De Gea
At the end of last season, David De Gea seemed to be on the way down.
The Spanish national team player had a hard time in the Europa League final as he could not save a single penalty kick in the penalty shootout and lacked his own effort.
But De Gea has done well with the 31-year-old now back to his best.
Without him, their campaign could have been even worse with De Gea standing out in matches against the likes of Brentford, West Ham, Wolves and Aston Villa during this period.
Now he is back to his best, the No. 1 jersey is definitely his to lose.
DO YOU THINK YOU CAN SPORT? Test your athletic knowledge with our difficult quiz
Midfield: McTominay, Pogba, Fernandes
Paul Pogba is ready to return from an injury against Middlesbrough after recovering just before the winter break started.
Since Rangnick wants to play an offensive 4-3-3, it is possible that he will play an advanced midfield role alongside Bruno Fernandes.
That way, the pair can fall deep and help the one Rangnick chooses to insert in the No. 6 position.
Fred would normally expect to get a nod in that department.
But Scott McTominay has become an unattainable asset for United in recent weeks and the Scottish national team player deserves to keep his place on the team.
Forwards: Sancho, Ronaldo, Rashford
United’s front line is now significantly less crowded than it was before the winter break.
Amad has been loaned to Rangers and scored in his debut, while Anthony Martial is on his way to Sevilla.
United will be without Mason Greenwood for the foreseeable future.
So that means Jadon Sancho, Cristiano Ronaldo and Marcus Rashford could end up starting matches by default.
Edinson Cavani, meanwhile, will be a reliable presence off the bench.
United’s last XI against Middlesbrough
The last time United met Middlesbrough was back in 2017, when Mourinho ruled.
Marouane Fellaini, Jesse Lingard and Antonio Valencia were all on target for a 3-1 victory at Riverside Stadium.
United started with De Gea in goal, with Eric Bailly, Chris Smalling, Phil Jones and Ashley Young starting in the back four.
Fellaini, Michael Carrick and Juan Mata were all deployed in midfield.
And Mourinho went with Valencia and Lingard on both sides of Rashford in attack.