FPL Preview: Manchester United

manchester united

After a brief, and frankly embarrassing, stint with David Moyes at the helm in 2013/14, the 20-time Premier League champions, Manchester United, saw a return to prominence under Louis van Gaal in 2014/15 and finished in 4th place and secured a Champions League position. Now, with the heir apparent to Sir Alex Ferguson in toe and a seemingly endless budget, the “Red Devils” appear poised to make an assault on their 21st title.

United have been business as usual this offseason, proving that no expense is too great for arguably the biggest club in world football. In addition to retaining most of their top talent, the club has gone out and acquired a few big-name players, and continues to be linked in countless rumors that could see them bring in a couple more before the summer deadline.

One thing’s for sure, no matter who’s on the club when the dust settles you’ll want to own several shares of MUFC fantasy goodness for your FPL teams this year. Let’s take a look at who you might want to target when preparing for the upcoming fake football season.

Early Season Fixture Outlook

vs. Tottenham, @ Aston Villa, vs. Newcastle, @ Swansea City, vs. Liverpool, @ Southampton

On paper, this appears to be quite the favorable schedule for the boys in red, with possibly the away tilt against Swansea City the only match where you might say they could drop points. Obviously anything can happen on any given weekend in the Prem, but fantasy players can feel confident in rolling out most (if not all) of their United players for all these contests. The home matches, in particular, should be quite nice for all the United attacking players.

Goalkeeper Outlook

David de Gea (£5.5m)

As of this writing, de Gea, the reigning PFA team of the year goalkeeper, is still a member of the Red Devils. But that could change at any moment, as rumors continue to swirl that Spanish giants, Real Madrid, intend to swoop down with a bag of money and lure him away to play in his homeland. The recent signing of Sergio Romero could also point to a potential exit for de Gea, but for now he remains the United number one. Having said this, despite his talent (which is immense), I can’t recommend investing heavily in de Gea in salary cap or draft leagues, at least until after the summer deadline. Assuming he stays put, given his shot-stopping ability, solid back line in front of him, and the fact that United should put a lot of balls in the back of the net, he remains one of the preeminent fantasy keepers who could potentially challenge for the top overall keeper come season’s end.

On the other side of the coin, assuming de Gea bolts for Madrid, the aforementioned Romero or Victor Valdes, while both not quite the shot-stopper, would still benefit from that back line and all those goals, if either were to vault to the number one. Either would then make for solid streamer options.

Defense

Louis van Gaal’s system is predicated on attacking; 12 different players combined to find the back of the net 60 times in the Premier League last season. Howerver, only four of those goals came from the defense; all came from Chris Smalling, to be precise. Additionally, while the back line does consist of solid talent, they only managed 11 cleans sheets last year. Unfortunately, the fact that the defenders don’t often get forward (unlike Baines and Coleman from Everton) combined with not getting as many clean sheets as other defenders (Ivanovic and Terry from Chelsea, for example) means you shouldn’t be targeting them as anything other than third of fourth defenders in salary cap/draft leagues. They would, however, make excellent DFS options if you were confident in their ability to secure a clean sheet that particular week.

Midfield

Studs

Juan Mata (£8.5m)

The United midfield boasts a few big names (especially after the past couple weeks), but none can play a bigger role on your fantasy team Juan Mata. The former Chelsea cast off has now bagged 15 goals and 11 assists in about a season and a half with United, and continues to play the chief creator role, creating 50 chances last season, second only to the newly-departed Angel di Maria, who had 51. Mata is a perennial top 10-15 midfielder, with upside for more, so you can feel confident targeting him anywhere in the second round of seasonal drafts.

Memphis Depay (£8.5m)

Memphis-Depay-246348

Depay, in any other offseason, would undoubtedly highlight the list of new signings. But with some of the other names United has brought aboard, this highly talented Dutchman might just be able to fly under the radar a little bit. Don’t let that happen in your fantasy leagues. Blessed with tremendous pace, ball control, and ability to finish, he makes for an intriguing player. Obviously there’s risk attached to any player who’s new to the Premier League, but with his talent and supporting cast you can feel confident that he’ll be able to produce at a high level even in this his first season. The salary cap price tag seems a tad steep, so I’d be inclined to avoid until he proves worthy, but in seasonal formats I’m rolling the dice on him in the third or fourth rounds.

Sleepers

Ander Herrera (£7.2m)

Due to the new names surrounding Herrera in the midfield now, I feel as if he’s being slightly undervalued. Had it not been for an injury that limited him to 1,870 minutes last year, he likely would’ve flirted with double digit goals, thus vaulting him into top the top 20-25 midfielders. With di Maria now out of the picture, the midfield playing time picture becomes much clearer. Herrera should settle in as a member of the first 11 and could potentially see a 10/10 season.

Schweinsteiger (£7.0m)/Schneiderlin (£5.5m)
 
The two prized bulls of the offseason get lumped together only because I suspect they’ll likely both find homes in defensive midfield roles. Both can get forward, and Schweinsteiger certainly can be a powerful presence, but both are known more for working box to box and doing a lot of the dirty work. Unless your league rewards for secondary stats such as tackles or passing accuracy, I’m staying away from both, especially in salary cap.
 

Forwards

Rooney

Stud

Wayne Rooney (£10.5m)

With Robin van Persie seeking greener pastures in Turkish football, there becomes a clear number one fantasy target when it comes to United forwards. Wayne Rooney has been a star in this league since he burst on the scene as a teenager at Everton, and now he’s on the precipice of finding himself at the top of some major MUFC records. I could wax poetic about Rooney’s greatness all day long; you don’t need me to tell you that. I will, however, tell you that now as the lone front man in LvG’s system it falls to him to carry the goal scoring torch. I wouldn’t be surprised if we see a return to classic Rooney, and that very well could come in the form of a 20/10 season. Target him as a mid to late first round pick in seasonal, and don’t hesitate one bit to pay up for him in salary cap.

Pedro (?)

As of Monday evening (27th), it is reported that United will complete a deal for Barcelona forward, Pedro, once the sale of di Maria is complete. If this comes to fruition, this would greatly bolster (if that was even possible) an already potent attack. It’s then thought that LvG would play Pedro alongside Rooney and Depay up front. That will change Rooney’s outlook slightly, but I still believe the Englishman will be the leading scorer on the club. None the less, it’s evident how United want to approach the year, and that’s scoring ALL. THE. GOALS.

 

Projected Opening Day Lineup/Strongest Lineup

GK: David de Gea

CB: Marcus Rojo

CB: Chris Smalling

CB: Phil Jones

CDM: Bastian Schweinsteiger

RM: Ander Herrera

CAM: Juan Mata

LM: Ashley Young

LF: Memphis Depay

RF: Pedro

STKR: Wayne Rooney

 

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