This article is part of our Fantasy Premier League Rankings series.
Despite getting sacked earlier this week, the biggest talking points of Gameweek 18 were centered around Jose Mourinho. Manchester United finally decided to part ways with a manager who spent hundreds of millions of pounds on players who he deemed not good enough while puzzlingly calling out his stars for playing below whatever expectations he had. After his firing, someone reached out to me on Twitter to see if we were going to do a podcast to discuss the fantasy implications, but I decided to pass on doing an entire episode when I could answer the question in four words:
Everyone is better now— Andrew M. Laird (@RotoWireAndrew) December 19, 2018
And while that kind of response could have been interpreted as having some sarcasm, I meant it completely seriously. There was simply no way you could argue that any Manchester United player was worse off with Ole Gunnar Solskjær in charge, and the real conversation was just how much better each player would become, and maybe who would be the best. Paul Pogba was the most obvious answer because Mourinho seemed to have the most disdain for the player he spent more transfer money on than anyone else, and it's not like he was poor from a fantasy perspective, as he led United in shots, shots on goal, chances created, duels won, touches and fouls drawn, something I noted in last week's rankings.
So how did Pogba and United respond? By thrashing Cardiff City 5-1, a result that should have been completely unsurprising even with Mourinho in charge, but we all know that match would have been a 1-1 slugfest prompting more calls for his firing. Pogba, who had two assists, wasn't the only United player to dominate, as Marcus Rashford scored a wonderful free-kick goal, Anthony Martial scored for the second time in his last two starts while creating a co-season-high five chances and Jesse Lingard scored twice and assisted one, with one of his goals coming from the penalty spot after he drew a foul in the box. Oh, and even Ander Herrera found the back of the net on a heavily deflected shot. This was simply Manchester United domination against a Cardiff side that had allowed three goals in two of their previous three matches, which came against Watford and West Ham. Yes, we can be excited that Manchester United's attackers are finally worthy of fantasy attention (and, hey, we didn't even see Romelu Lukaku, who is away on compassionate leave), but let's not get too carried away with a big win against Cardiff City. What we can do is get excited about their upcoming fixtures, which sees them host Huddersfield on Boxing Day, followed by Bournemouth at home, Newcastle away, Tottenham away, Brighton at home, Burnley at home, Leicester away and Fulham away. One would think Lingard would be the one to give way to Lukaku, but after his performance against Cardiff it might not be that easy. Oh, and Alexis Sanchez should be back from injury next month, which means we'll actually be talking more about United's possible lineup rotations than whether they are good plays.
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