Manchester United host Southampton in the second BPL round and this will be the debut of Paul Pogba as well as the first time Zlatan Ibrahimović plays in front of home fans on Old Trafford. Pogba was carrying-over a one-game ban from Juventus so was ineligible to play against Bournemouth.
“We played against Leicester with players with less training than Pogba and we saw that match as a way to improve them and accelerate the process,” Mourinho told MUTV. “With Paul, it’s a bit the same — not one single minute of any preseason match, but almost two weeks of work with us, sometimes with the group, sometimes separately, and the condition is OK to play some minutes.”
Mourinho also added the team’s style of play will change a bit to accomodate the midfielder and that Pogba has yet to understand how United play. “He’ll need time to build his condition and his understanding of how the team plays and how he’ll fit in with that.”, said the Portuguese manager who isn’t expecting a big performance from Pogba so early.
With Ander Herrera and Marouane Fellaini having played so well in the opener, they might be given another chance to start while Pogba waits for his re-introduction to United fans on the bench.
Chris Smalling is in contention for the Southampton match after having his pre-season ruined by an injury and the opening game ruined by a ban. Eric Bailly or Danny Blind will have to move, and most likely it will be Blind as this is not his natural position.
Manchester Utd (4-2-3-1): De Gea – Valencia, Smalling, Bailly, Shaw – Herrera, Fellaini (Pogba) – Mata, Rooney, Martial – Ibrahimovic. Manager Jose Mourinho.
After playing 4-4-2 Diamond in the opener against Watford, Southampton are expected to assume a more defensive stance for their trip to Old Trafford and that means Shane Long will be the lone forward as the goalscorer Nathan Redmond drops back to his natural position on the right wing.
Captain Jose Fonte will likely travel with the squad but won’t necessarily be fit to play. The 32-year-old defender who just won Euro 2016 with Portugal is lined with a move to Manchester United, but, as the So’ton boss Claude Puel says, it’s strange that these rumours emerged two days before the game.
“There is a possibility that he may travel with us to Old Trafford. But he is a very good professional and he has played well in training sessions this week and it is important to have Jose with us, I hope, for the United game.”, Puel said. “Jose has good experience, so he cannot be disturbed by this rumour but I am just surprised to hear this before the game, two days before the match. But Jose is our captain and I’m sure he will be completely ready for this game.”
Charlie Austin only got 8 minutes in the Watford game and could get some more here, but Shane Long is still the first choice for a starting forward.
Southampton (4-2-3-1): Forster – Cedric, Yoahida, Van Dijk, Targett – Romeu, Davis – Redmond, Ward-Prowse, Tadic – Long. Manager Claude Puel.
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Manchester Utd and Southampton kick off on Friday 19 Aug 2016 at 20.00 UK time.