It’s the festive holiday period, which means it is time for celebrations and spending time with the family. For football clubs across the planet, this means the fixtures will be coming thick and fast at this point of the season, and Manchester United are no different. The team is set to play five games in the span of just two weeks, which means Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will have to rotate the squad to keep everyone fit and healthy. For some players, this hectic period will give them a rare chance in the spotlight, and the opportunity to cement their spots in the starting XI.
It’s been a poor start to life for summer signing Fred, who came to Man United from Shakhtar Donetsk for about 50 million pounds in the offseason. He was in the first team at the beginning the campaign, and managed to grab his first goal for the club against Wolves a few weeks later, but found himself on the bench after United’s horrific start to the season. Former-United boss Jose Mourinho publicly stated that it wasn’t the Brazilians fault, as the defence needed to solidify before Fred could play with the attacking freedom he needs on the pitch. With Mourinho out of the picture, it seems Solskjaer will attempt to bring Fred back into the fold, as he came on as a substitute in the win against Cardiff City. Nemanja Matic is too old to be playing on little rest, and should be sat on the bench against weaker teams to try and save him for the more marquee matchups. Teams like Huddersfield and Bournemouth will look to simply sit back when they come to Old Trafford, and Fred could be instrumental in breaking down those compact defences.
Coming into this season, it seemed United fans were most excited to see what Andreas Pereira had in store for the upcoming campaign. He impressed the year before on loan at La Liga side Valencia, and was a constant presence in the United team during the preseason tour of America. It seemed like he would carry that form into the start of the Premier League campaign, as he went the full 90 against Leicester City in the first game of the season. However, he was hauled off at half-time when United were getting smashed by Brighton & Hove Albion the week after, and hadn’t been seen much of since. It was clear Mourinho had lost faith in the player, and there were murmurs Pereira would be loaned out in the January transfer window. With Solskjaer now in charge, that should change, as the Brazilian seems to fit the new manager's system well. Solskjaer is big on player movement on the pitch, and Pereira would bring a lot more energy to the midfield than Matic or Marouane Fellaini ever could. He’s been waiting for another opportunity in the team, and the holiday period should give fans the chance to get excited about Pereira once again.
The fall of Eric Bailly began at the end of last season, when Mourinho decided to bench the Ivorian in favour of other centre-backs who were preparing for the World Cup. He had been the team’s best defender up to that point, but suddenly found himself on the outside looking in to end the year. Like those mentioned prior, Bailly started this season on the right foot before losing his spot in the team as a result of the Brighton game. He’s come sporadically into the team, but has done remarkably well anytime he’s been given the chance, especially in the game against Arsenal a few weeks ago. As Solskjaer tries to figure out his best backline, he'll have to experiment in the coming games to see who works best in his new system. For Bailly, this will allow him the opportunity to finally reaffirm his spot as the best centre-back in the Man United side.