Manchester United news: Gary Neville leaves Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Wayne Rooney out of his starting XI

Neville doesn not believe Rooney or Ibrahimovic should be starting for United, but feels Jose Mourinho is wrong to overlook Henrikh Mkhitaryan

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Gary Neville revealed his first-choice Manchester United starting line-up that he believes should face rivals Arsenal this weekend when the Premier League resumes after the international break, and made to rather surprising omissions.

The former United defender spoke on Monday at the Oxford Union to discuss the current state of Jose Mourinho’s squad, and also explain what it means to have homegrown players coming through the ranks as well as bringing in big names such as Paul Pogba and Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

However, despite starting every Premier League match this season for United, Ibrahimovic is one of those big names surprisingly left out of Neville’s first-choice starting line-up, while the other is club captain and former teammate Wayne Rooney.

Rooney’s admission comes as a surprise, with Neville rarely criticising him in the past given that they played together at Old Trafford before Neville became England coach under Roy Hodgson and worked with the striker on a regular basis.

But Rooney’s drop in form this season has been obvious for all to see, and the 31-year-old suffered a further blow on Monday when he was sent back to United after picking up a minor knee injury that will keep him out of the international friendly against Spain on Tuesday, having already been confirmed as starting on the substitutes’ bench by manager Gareth Southgate.


Neville ran through his team with what appeared to be a 4-3-3 formation, and while the defence was what many would’ve expected the former Valencia manager to choose, he threw up a few surprises in front of them.

“Well, David De Gea is the easy one in goal. I would then pick Antonio Valencia, Chris Smalling, Eric Bailly and probably Daley Blind at left-back at this moment in time,” Neville said.

“I would then have Paul Pogba to the left in midfield, Michael Carrick, Ander Herrera in there. Then ahead of them, I’d have Henrikh Mikhtaryan to the right and then….Anthony Martial to the left and Marcus Rashford up front.”

Neville also praised the club for bringing through academy products such as Rashford and Jesse Lingard, and having come through the ranks as part of the ‘Class of 92’ himself, he admitted it still makes him proud.


Neville takes delight in seeing Rashford and Lingard in the United team (AFP/Getty)

“When I see Marcus Rashford and Jesse Lingard on the pitch, it makes me feel proud that Manchester United can be true to itself and its principles.”