Man U vs. Cardiff City
Venue: Old Trafford
Kick off: 3PM
Manchester United host Cardiff City in the Premier League this afternoon looking to end a relatively disappointing campaign having returned to winning ways.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has endured a wide range of emotions since first replacing Jose Mourinho at the end of 2018, and the Norwegian will probably be pleased to see the back of this season.
Everyone at the club will be disappointed having finished outside of the top four in the standings, but it could prove to be a blessing in disguise as Solskjaer looks to reshape his squad.
Participation in the Champions League would have left Solskjaer potentially throwing his younger players into high-pressure games, but they can now be bloodied in the Europa League and gain regular game-time.
That is a likely scenario with Solskjaer having stressed that he wants to introduce the club’s prospects into first-team action, and there will be a youthful look to the side which starts against Cardiff.
However, Solskjaer is aware that it is important for United to end their recent dismal form, with just eight points coming from their last eight outings in the Premier League.
United were perhaps unfortunate not to see off Huddersfield Town last weekend, but there will be an understanding that failing to beat the division’s bottom side was unacceptable given the gulf in class between the teams.
Scott McTominay netted United’s goal at the John Smith’s Stadium, and the Scotland international remains a rare shining light with too many experienced players performing well below their ability.
Such is their fall from grace that they may not even be provided with the opportunity of a farewell appearance this weekend, and it would be a sign that Solskjaer is ready to enforce change at the club.
Meanwhile, Cardiff City make the trip to Old Trafford knowing that they will finish in 18th position, but the Bluebirds supporters will want to return to the Championship having earned a positive result against their former boss Solskjaer.
However, there has been an inevitably about Cardiff’s relegation for some time, and that was guaranteed last weekend with a 3-2 defeat at home to Crystal Palace.
Warnock has decisions to make regarding his future at the club, while the Bluebirds hierarchy must put together a plan of action to try to earn an immediate return to the big time.
There will be an ambition from both parties to provide their passionate fans with a positive end to the season, and there will unlikely be a better time for the club to gain a rare win at Old Trafford.
Cardiff have lost on each of their visits to top-six teams over the course of the season, but the squad have performed better away from home than in Wales’ capital over the past few weeks.
A 2-0 win over Brighton & Hove Albion was recorded at the Amex Stadium, while Cardiff had more decisions go against them during a narrow 1-0 defeat to Fulham at Craven Cottage.
Calls from referees have been a regular top of debate following many of Cardiff’s matches this season, although it would have taken at least two more victories for the club to have retained hope of remaining in the Premier League.
A lack of draws for Cardiff have arguably been the telling factor this season with just four coming from 37 games, although it would not come as a surprise if they produce the performance required to heap further misery on Solskjaer on Sunday.
Man U possible XI: De Gea, Valencia, Lindelof, Smalling, Shaw, Herrera, McTominay, Chong, Pogba, Mata, Rashford.
Cardiff City possible XI: Etheridge, Peltier, Morrison, Ecuele Manga, Bennett, Gunnarsson, Bacuna, Mendez-Laing, Reid, Murphy, Ward.