The Squad:So, as I mentioned before United have strengthened in a big, big way! The retention of high profile Real Madrid target David De Gea is massive. As well as the summer arrivals, of Bundesliga player of the year, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, strong centre-back Eric Bailly, the free transfer of Zlatan and of course the return of Pogba. If you combine that with the wealth of talent that United already possess, on paper you have a title winning team but as we have seen in real life that isn't always the case. Generally with the squad that they have United tend to do quite well in FM when controlled by the AI.
United also have emerging young stars in Marcus Rashford who burst onto the scene last year and Jesse Lingaard who sealed the FA Cup win. The squad isn't that bad in truth maybe for the first season I wouldn't sell anyone unless some monumental bids come in and I'm talking the big champions league teams offering you 30-40 million plus for your players. Rashford is still very young in footballing terms, so there's plenty of time to mould him into what you want him to be. However, with Anthony Martial another massive star as a left sided inside forward the simple option is to retrain Rashford as a complete forward to prepare for the inevitable retirement of Zlatan.
The Formation:So, you have the experienced veteran Zlatan and new kid on the block Rashford how will you use them?
Well I have a simple solution and that is to play my personal favourite formation 4-2-3-1.
We start at the top of the pitch, with the lone striker and how can you look beyond Zlatan. While you do have emerging young star Marcus Rashford, in the game he’s a natural Inside Forward on the left side.
I would recommend that you retrain Rashford in the Complete Forward role during the first season and then you can use him in the cup games instead of starting with Zlatan?
Then if we drop back to the so called “number 10 position.” It’s another slot up for debate, you have Mata and Rooney who can play the role naturally but you also have the back-up option of Ander Herrera.
All are good solid options in my opinion but my personal favourite is Juan Mata and I’d use him in an Attacking Midfielder role on support. This will allow him some freedom to roam around without the pressure of having to create all the goals, he can just be Juan Mata.
Rooney is also a great option and as club captain it may sway some of you guys to start with him as an Attacking Midfielder, Rooney plays the role well especially with his strength to fight for the ball and his ability to strike a ball from distance.
Herrera is a good solid option as well as he is great on the ball and he can win the ball back well to and having someone like that so close to the opponent’s goal could lead to chances on goal.
Now if we move out wide, you have attacking midfielders on the right and left and you have a tremendous amount of depth in this area.
If we start on the right, it’s a given for me that you start with Henrikh Mkhitaryan as an Inside Forward. Given his great dribbling ability he can easily cut inside and give any defender a hard time.
As a back-up option should anything happen to Mkhitaryan you have Antonio Valencia, a powerful pacey winger with a good cross that will surely find your striker in the box.
Over to the left now and again for me an easy decision, with the talent that Anthony Martial possesses. I’d play Martial as an Inside Forward as well, he’s a strong quick young man with great dribbling ability and even has a brilliant shot on him should the opportunity present itself.
Here, you also have a good back-up option in the experienced Ashley Young. Young also like the rest is absolutely rapid he’s not the best by any means but he isn’t a bad option to have in your bag of tricks.
Finally, we have Jesse Lingard who I don’t think would be an immediate starter but he does however, have a very bright future. It also helps that he is a superb rotation as he can play any of the 3 positions behind the striker comfortably.
So, now if we move further back down the pitch we have the two central midfielders, there is no doubt about it Paul Pogba is going to be one of them. He's simply one of the best if not the best on the game and there's still time for him to improve. Pogba is naturally a deep lying playmaker, meaning he will sit back and ping the ball around kind of like Xavi used to do. However, to me Pogba's attributes are way too good for this role, his long shots are 19 meaning there's a high chance he will score from range not just get it on target. Also, he has great strength and stamina so he can run about and he can fight for the ball.
Personally, I always retrain Pogba as a Roaming Playmaker and give him the license to go forward and shoot if he wants to not just make the assists and key passes.
Pogba's midfield partner is another debate when you have the likes of Carrick, Herrera and Fellaini all vying for the spot.
Michael Carrick has bags of experience and he's won absolutely everything there is to win with United. He's naturally a Defensive Midfielder so if you push him forward to the centre of midfield I'd recommend using him as a Central Midfielder on defend duty so he can sit back and guard the defence while Pogba pushes forward with the ball.
Then we move on to Ander Herrera who's naturally an Advanced Playmaker and to be honest I don't see the point in playing two playmakers side by side especially when one of them is the world’s best. So, the easy decision for myself would be to bench Herrera.
Next up there's Marouane Fellaini who's not exactly been a massive hit since his arrival at Old Trafford, however he is a good player on FM. Fellaini's natural role as Ball Winning Midfielder complements Pogba well. In the ideal world Fellaini wins the ball sends it to Pogba who goes on to set up a goal but when has FM ever given us ideal scenarios. It's the reason we all love the game.
We also have the versatile Daley Blind who can also fill in at centre midfield if required but I don't think he'd be a first choice by any means. Pogba-Fellaini makes a lot of sense it's also quite similar to the dynamic that Keane and Scholes gave United in the 90's and 2000's, but to be honest I'd look for an alternative especially with a 70-million-pound transfer kitty. We'll talk about potential targets later.
Now it's time to talk about the back four, gone are the days of Ferdinand and Vidic as the centre-back partnership at Old Trafford. United have failed to replicate that sort of partnership ever since the iconic duo parted ways with the club. Evra was also a main stay for years gone by.
If we work from left-to-right with this one we start off with young England international Luke Shaw. Shaw has bags of potential but his proneness to injuries is hardly a positive. Luckily, you have Daley Blind to back him up once again. Shaw is a natural in the defending role of Wing Back but also the attacking role of Full Back. Personally, I feel that the attacking Full Back is too risky going forward so the safer option would Wing Back defend as Shaw will still get forward as is the nature of a Wing Back but his focus will still mainly remain on the defensive side of things.
In the middle, you have a variety of options with the likes of Bailly, Jones, Rojo and Smalling at your disposal. All are good options but personally I'd recommend a partnership of Smalling and Bailly. Smalling on the right side and in a Central Defender role and Bailly playing as the Ball Playing Defender. This allows you to have one defender, in Bailly who will carry the ball forward and lay it off to the midfielders and help with the transitional play in the build up to any chances. Jones can play the Central Defender and Rojo can play in the Ball Playing Defender role so you won’t have to mess around with any role changes.
Finally if we look at the right back position we have 2 options, Antonio Valencia & Matteo Darmian. Both men are good solid options and I really can’t chose between. Valencia is a natural in the Full Back role when on Attack duty. He’s a great option going forward but he isn’t the best on the defensive side of things. Darmian however, is a great defender and he is natural in the Wing Back role on Defend duty that I love so much. For me I prefer my defenders to actually be able to mark opponents, win tackles and win headers in the air so this is why for the right back position I have to pick Matteo Darmian.
Finally, on to the goalkeeper position. This is an absolute no brainer, David De Gea is hands down the number 1 for Man United. He’s a tremendous Goalkeeper and you may have to ward off interest from Real Madrid but if you can keep hold of De Gea it’s just as good as a new signing. You also have a very capable back up keeper in Sergio Romero that you can rotate and use in the Cup competitions.
So we’ve ran through every single position on the pitch and the roles and duties of the players and I’ve constructed a starting eleven that looks like this:
I haven’t filled the bench as you may decide to use the transfer budget to find new players and you may sell some players too but this is the starting eleven that I would recommend.
Transfers:You will begin the save with a transfer budget of £70 million.
United have considerable pull in transfer market, simply because they are Manchester United. However, they’re in the Europa League so it’s going to be difficult in the first season to convince top stars to join. That being said, you can still try for the big names and make them the promise of playing in the Champions League in the second season.
You could target the likes of Dani Carvajal and Fabio Coentrao. It would take something special to prise them away from Real Madrid though, Coentrao is very much surplus to requirements to that could be a relatively easy deal to make happen. Whereas, Carvajal would be a bit more complicated with his massive release clause proving an obstacle to overcome.
You may also want to look at potential midfield partners for Paul Pogba to play the Ball Winning Midfielder role. You could take a look at Dutchman Riechedly Bazoer, who develops into a top talent. Another option would be the young Brazilian, Thiago Maia. A really good option here would be the AS Monaco midfielder, Tiemoue Bakayoko but Monaco are competing in the Champions League and you are not, so that may not be easy.
Alternatively, for this position you could stick to the club philosophy of promoting youth and you could promote Timothy Fosu-Mensah to the senior squad.
Club Philosophies:The board will be expecting you to play attacking football, that is easily done you just set your team’s mentality to “Attacking” and also adding the instruction of “More Direct Passing” can help achieve this.
The other and main philosophy that you will be judged on is using youngsters in the first team. Historically, United are known for some of the great players that they have produced, most notably the Class of ’92 and more recently, the returning Paul Pogba and the young hometown boy Marcus Rashford. United have a wealth of talent in the under 23’s and under 18’s. The most notable are: Callum Gribbin, Axel Tuanzebe, Angel Gomes, Tahith Chong and the aforementioned Timothy Fosu-Mensah.
I usually promote these guys straight into the senior team and them set them for 90 mins the under 23’s. Then they’re easily accessible for the Cup games and you can bring them into the team without too much searching and it’s easier to keep an eye on them if you chose to loan them out.
I hope you appreciated my guide for the team and I hope that is you use this it works out for you.
Can you restore Manchester United to their former glory?