United will resume their Premier League campaign at Old Trafford, welcoming Brighton & Hove Albion to M16 for what will be their third home game of the season. The Reds signed off for the recent pause with a 3-1 defeat to Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium, a juncture that marked the beginning of a period of negativity and uncertainty.
Jadon Sancho&aposs decision to hit back at Erik ten Hag in a social media post after the defeat to the Londoners dominated the headlines for a few days, ahead of United confirming they had given Antony a leave of absence after allegations of abuse were made against the Brazilian. No timeframe has been put on when he could return.
Amid the ongoing uncertainty currently surrounding his future and the question marks surrounding Sancho&aposs position in Ten Hag&aposs thinking, the door has opened for Facundo Pellistri. With Amad still sidelined through injury, he is at the top of the pecking order for the right-wing spot.
The 21-year-old, who played twice for Uruguay over the recent international break, has only made 12 appearances for United since arriving at Old Trafford almost three years ago. All of those 12 outings have been awarded to him by Ten Hag, but only one of them has come in the form of a start.
The youngster&aposs only start for United came back in March in the Europa League, when he got the nod for the 1-0 win over Real Betis in the second leg of the club&aposs last-16 tie. United were 4-1 up from the first-leg and Ten Hag made the decision to give the Uruguayan the chance to prove his worth.
Just as he had in his previous cameo roles, Pellistri impacted proceedings positively, producing a forward-thinking, progressive performance. He, not for the first time, played with a sense of freedom, demonstrating traits that used to be associated with wingers in years gone by.
Unlike Antony and Sancho, Pellistri prefers to go down the outside of his opposing full-back, beat him and deliver a cross. Now that United have a physical and recognisable No.9 in the centre, the time could be right to unleash him.
Though he is still fairly raw and inexperienced, all of his performances for United so far have resulted in him having a positive impact on proceedings. Praise has not been in short supply, either.
And it was after his full United debut against Betis that former Reds midfielder Paul Scholes waxed lyrical about his style of play and ability to make things happen.
“He has not played a lot of football, but I thought he was quite lively going down the outside,” Scholes told BT Sport, speaking earlier this year. “He put a couple of crosses in early on that he possibly over-hit, but the whole team was like that, to be fair. But I thought he was a real threat.
“He was the one looking to create and the one looking to be dangerous. He is very direct and I don&apost think we will see any fancy stuff from him.
“He will be direct, go towards goal, try and cross the balls for forwards in the box and get shots at goal. I thought, overall, he was just alright.”
Considering United will head into the clash with Brighton in desperate need of a result and a positive performance, the landscape could not be better for Pellistri to try and make his mark. United have underwhelmed so far this season and the Uruguayan is the sort of player who could raise volume levels inside Old Trafford to spur the team on.
He likes to get on the ball, drive at his marker and attempt to produce an end product. He tends to refrain from the fancy tricks and flicks that can often lead to nothing.