Manchester United have to be favourites for the Europa League final against Ajax. Even though the Dutch side have played really well to get into the final they are on a different scale entirely these days to Manchester United – in terms of budget anyway.
Ajax may still be playing more like a team than what could be viewed, at times over the last three years, as a bunch of hugely expensive misfits at Manchester United.
Marcus Rashford has been excellent in the absence of injured striker Zlatan Ibrahimović and he is a precocious talent but still inconsistent in front of goal. He should start the game and we would also like to see Anthony Martial from the off.
But, based on recent history, he’s more likely to start the game on the bench. But the Frenchman is another one who should be changing games at this level after two years of experience in such a big club. Players like these are going to have to show Jose Mourinho that they are able to carry the club forward beyond this summer.
But the man who is really due a match-winning performance is world record signing Paul Pogba. He’s been decent in his first season at Manchester United but the record fee does not tally with the level of performance. There is certainly no lack of effort on the part of the athletic Frenchman but for that sort of money you expect some real finesse and a liberal smattering of jaw-dropping moments.
Pogba has scored a few good goals but we really need to see him kick on from here and this would be the perfect day to show that he is indeed a world-class talent who is going to give 6-8 years of great service to Manchester United.
Pogba should be thinking about becoming Manchester United captain over the next few years. We need to see weekly consistency from him and he should be a regular game changer.
Jose Mourinho has played him in a more defensive role at times this season but, if he buys another anchorman in the summer, then we should see the Frenchman push on to cause trouble further up the pitch.
In the Europa League final TFF would like to see Herrera and Carrick anchor the midfield, allowing Pogba to rove a little bit more and link midfield and attack. He’s certainly got the talent to be a world-class player.
But after an unremarkable first campaign at Manchester United this is surely this stage for him to show he’s the man for all seasons.
Manchester United vs Ajax
Key Man: Paul Pogba (Manchester United)