last push | 

Manchester United have unearthed a real gem – I’d have hated playing against him

Every time Alejandro Garnacho got the ball against Villa he ran at defenders causing panic and havoc.

Alejandro Garnacho of Manchester United in action with John McGinn of Aston Villa during the Carabao Cup. (Photo by Matthew Peters/Manchester United via Getty Images)© Manchester United via Getty Imag

Paul McGrathSunday World

I’M CONVINCED that Manchester United are going to say goodbye to their fans for seven weeks with a Premier League win at Craven Cottage this afternoon.

United’s next game after today is a Carabao Cup match against Burnley a few days before Christmas Day as the World Cup in Qatar looms into view and shuts down club football for more than a month and a half.

It is fair to say that the Red Devils have caught a bit of a break today.

Alexsander Mitrovic, Fulham’s centre-forward once memorably described by my fellow Sunday World columnist John Aldridge as ‘built like a brick shit outhouse’, will probably miss the match through injury.

He has an ankle problem and surely Fulham will not ask him to play today with the World Cup coming up.

Serbia’s opening match is not until Thursday week, so Mitrovic has plenty of time to recover, as long as he doesn’t take another tough bashing on the joint this afternoon.

So we will be denied the showdown that so many of us have been waiting since Lisandro Martinez joined the Premier League.

United’s 5ft 9in centre-half, tough as boots in the Argentinian style, against the immensely physical 6ft 4in Mitrovic.

No quarter would have been sought or given.

Without their charismatic attack leader, I just don’t see where Fulham can trouble Manchester United today.

The West London club has had a fine start to the season, but this may be just a step too far.

United’s tails must be up after a fine 4-2 win over Aston Villa on Thursday night and I can see them kicking on from here.

Argentina have chosen not to bring United’s teenage starlet Alejandro Garnacho to the World Cup, but this lad looked pure class last Thursday night.

Every time he got the ball against Villa he ran at defenders causing panic and havoc. Three countries, England, Spain and Argentina, wanted him to commit to their cause.

The lad chose the country of his parents, Argentina, and I wonder what that choice may mean for world football for years to come?

Frankly on Thursday night, this lad looks that good to be thinking such thoughts!

I hated playing against a Garnacho-type of player, you never knew what was coming next. Give me a Mitrovic any day of the week. He could stand there and thump me, but I could thump him back on the QT and see how he fancied it.

A Garnacho that you couldn’t get hold of, no thanks?

Famously, Argentina didn’t pick a 16-year-old for the 1978 World Cup Finals.

Now boss Lionel Scaloni has not taken a chance on an 18-year-old this time around? England have taken a chance on choosing Harry Maguire, (inset) the United centre-half, for their World Cup 26.

He hasn’t been in the first team at Old Trafford of late, but I rememb e r playing with Gareth Southgate at Aston Villa.

He was loyal then and he’s loyal now. He could have ditched Harry for Everton’s Conor Coady or for Fikayo Tomori, two of the mildly controversial non-selections in his squad.

The latter is an Englishman who just happens to be playing for the Serie A champions AC Milan.

He excels at bringing the ball out of defence.

If England lose a big game over the next month and a half, because Harry gives a stray pass while trying to work his way out of defence, there will be hell to pay and Gareth will pay most of it.

That’s the way football works.

Watching Maguire play last Thursday, even against an understrength Aston Villa, I sensed a player low on confidence.

Frankly I think that confidence is shot. Maybe Gareth can pull him around in the few days before the World Cup starts, but somehow I don’t think so.

Remember that is another thing that is different about this World Cup.

There’s no big three-week training camp to work on tactics, to prepare for the heat of the desert, to let little niggles heal up.

We have two Premier League matches today and yet England play Iran in the World Cup a week tomorrow.

Wales play the United States on the same day.

These few days before the action starts will be about getting going and hitting the ground running, for players and management alike.

Today's Headlines

More Soccer

Download the Sunday World app

Now download the free app for all the latest Sunday World News, Crime, Irish Showbiz and Sport. Available on Apple and Android devices

WatchMore Videos