The FA Cup is Man Utd’s best chance of silverware this term with Aston Villa their third round opponents but several players need to prove their worth to Ralf Rangnick
Manchester United are desperately in need of a response when they play Aston Villa in Monday night’s FA Cup third round clash.
The Red Devils lost to Wolves last time out with their performance copping plenty of criticism.
There has also been a heavy fallout since amid talk of a player exodus and other individuals struggling to adapt to Ralf Rangnick’s methods.
For now though the German is calling the shots and is unlikely to veer from his methods.
As a result United’s underperforming stars will have to impress the 63-year-old, at least until the season ends.
A Premier League triumph is, once again, beyond United but cup competitions could provide them with a chance to win silverware.
(Photo by Matthew Ashton – AMA/Getty Images))
The Manchester outfit have gone trophyless since their Europa League success in 2017.
Therefore the importance of the FA Cup further increases and players can use the Villa clash to further their own cases for more involvement.
Few, if any, members of the squad have shone since Rangnick’s arrival but could highlight their worth at Old Trafford.
We take a look at five players who need to impress.
The United skipper has come out fighting, claiming “it’s down to us as players.”
Maguire has faced his critics ever since joining the Red Devils, with some suggesting the armband should go elsewhere.
The England centre-half has been part of a defence that has continued to ship goals and must show Rangnick he can lead the back line, especially with so many options available.
He told the club’s website: “We need to go on a proper run, starting Monday.”
It is Maguire who will be among those responsible for setting the tone and needs to do so as a leader and as a player.
The Brazilian was among the first to quash reports of a player exodus.
He, much like Maguire, has faced his doubters throughout his Old Trafford career.
Fred has shown in glimpses what he’s capable of, but the centre of midfield is seen as the area United most need to improve.
The 28-year-old, often employed alongside Scott McTominay, needs to show that he is capable of dominating and controlling games in the middle of the pitch.
After a McTominay-Matic midfield struggled against Wolves, Fred needs to prove he can step up.
The Portuguese star was a talisman under the previous regime yet has been anything but under Rangnick.
Instead Fernandes has been regularly criticised for his body language. Previous seen as driving standards, he is now being accused of negative behaviour, gesturing angrily at teammates when mistakes are made.
United – and Rangnick – need Fernandes firing on all cylinders.
He was seen as indispensable under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, but needs to again show that he must be a guaranteed starter in a team bursting with options.
His cameo off the bench against Wolves did little to further his case for more involvement.
Rashford’s early season was hampered by injury but upon his return the forward looked close to his best.
Now though he again looks to have dropped off.
The academy graduate is playing in perhaps the most competitive position with Mason Greenwood and Edinson Cavani also vying to be Cristiano Ronaldo’s partner.
Rashford looks a shadow of his former self and is another to have his body language criticised, which has become a theme at United.
Donny van de Beek
Simply getting a start will serve as a plus for the Dutchman, whose career at United continues to bemuse many.
The former Ajax man has been unable to showcase his quality, although that is largely down to a lack of opportunities.
Van de Beek finds himself in the pressurised situation of not being able to have an off day.
With minutes so scarce, every time he heads on to the pitch it feels as if the midfielder is fighting for his future.
Van de Beek still has the chance to force his way into Rangnick’s plan, but will need a performance of note.