Jose Mourinho has reacted to Manchester United’s Crystal Palace stalemate by dropping Paul Pogba and Romelu Lukaku to the bench and leaving Alexis Sanchez out entirely for the Champions League visit of Young Boys.
United produced an insipid performance at home to Palace on Saturday as they stuttered to a goalless draw, leaving them trailing Premier League leaders Manchester City by 14 points. Mourinho threatened to make changes in response to that toothless showing and the Portuguese has delivered on that. Pogba – withdrawn in the second half on Saturday – has been replaced by Fred in midfield, with the Brazilian no doubt eager to improve on an underwhelming start to life at Old Trafford. Lukaku was also disappointing against the Eagles and Marcus Rashford takes his place in the team, lining up in attack with Anthony Martial and Jesse Lingard. Sanchez featured from the bench on Saturday, though this time he does not even make it into the matchday squad, with Mourinho saying in the build-up that those players unable to rise to the pressure of playing at Old Trafford should ‘watch from home’. There are also enforced changes at the back, with the injured Victor Lindelof and Matteo Darmian replaced by Phil Jones and Luke Shaw. Antonio Valencia returns to the starting XI for the first time since the start of October following injury problems. Reports also suggested his exile was lengthened by liking a social media post calling for Mourinho’s sacking, something he claimed he did by accident. Victory for United will secure their place in the next round if Valencia drop points away to Juventus.