What midfield selection will Louis van Gaal go with against Swansea City on August 16th?
The unveiling of Louis van Gaal as Manchester United's new manager on Thursday was ever so slightly overshadowed by the news that defensive midfielder Michael Carrick is set to miss the next 10-12 weeks with an injury he picked up in training this week.
Van Gaal's press conference saw him address questions about his character, his relationship with players, and also his intentions regarding both the existing Manchester United players and possible transfers.
And the Dutchman, who finished his tenure as Netherlands manager having taken the 2010 runners-up to third place in Brazil, may have to get to know his players as quickly as possible given Carrick's ankle injury.
The Englishman was one of the few remotely positive bright spots in an otherwise difficult United midfield last year, and of the old guard, looked best set to remain part of the new manager's plans. On discussing Carrick's news, Van Gaal said: "It is a big blow because he is a very experienced player."
Now Van Gaal will be pressed to put together a midfield without the former Spurs man, and below we list the possible group he could go with in the club's first Premier League match, barring any more midfield additions that he is likely to be looking into, against Swansea City at Old Trafford.
Though favouring a three man defence with the Netherlands in Brazil, we have gone with a five man midfield playing off a flat back four, given United's current issues in central defence. One thing that is abundantly clear is that United lack the threat of a pacey, skilful goal getter from midfield in the mould of Arjen Robben - something only an on-form Nani is capable of from the club's current crop.
CM - Marouane Fellaini - United legend Darren Fletcher could come into any of these three central spots, but given ongoing concerns about his fitness, and the fact United have to fancy beating Swansea at home despite last season's FA Cup result, the former Bayern Munich manager may give Fellaini a chance in there. He would be useful against the Swans aerial threats and may even get the chance to rotate the attacking midfield spot with his two partners.
CM - Ander Herrera - The new signing from Atheltic Bilbao could get thrown straight into the United first team after Carrick's injury, and his brand of tough-tackling, classy creative play might well end up being the new heartbeat of the Reds' midfield. His dynamism is surely set to excite Old Trafford this year.
CM - Shinji Kagawa - The Dutchman likes his technical footballers, and Kagawa may finally be given an extended run in the side if Van Gaal is impressed with what he sees of him while on tour in the US. The Japan star proved at times last season that he can play a little deeper if he needs to, and with pretty much the entire midfield capable of rotating with one another, Kagawa would be able take turns with Herrera in playing the Wesley Sneijder role for the Reds.
RW - Juan Mata - Given the absence of on form out-and-out wingers at Old Trafford right now, the Spaniard may well find himself playing a little wider than he would have liked against Swansea. Antonio Valencia is an option if Van Gaal does end up playing a right wingback, with Mata then featuring from a more central position.
LW - Wayne Rooney - The former Everton star probably won't like it, but Van Gaal is often willing to shuffle his attacking talent into various positions, especially if they're as versatile as Rooney is. It doesn't take an expert to see that Robin van Persie is likely to be the main man up front whenever he's fit, and Rooney could just settle into a slightly more central position off the left hand side with the rampaging Shaw coming up behind him. Another option would be for Adnan Januzaj starting wide and Rooney taking an advanced central midfield position, but Van Gaal is likely to go with at least one defensive minded player there.
Let us know what midfield combinations you think Van Gaal will go with in the comment sections below.