Donny van de Beek (mid) Ajax; Dean Henderson (gk) Sheffield United – end of loan; Marcos Rojo (def) Estudiantes – end of loan; Chris Smalling (def) Roma – end of loan;
Alexis Sanchez (sp) (att) Inter – loan made permanent; Tahith Chong (mid) Werder Bremen – on loan;
Last season was split in two contrasting halves with dismal and negative record-breaking displays up until January leaving United in major hole. Then came the Bruno-inspired transformation in January that saw the Red Devils finishing the campaign unbeaten in the final 19 rounds and on the last day of the season sneaking into the top 4.
Many questions about Solskjaer’s abilities as manager remain unanswered, though, as he had huge successes in some unexpected wins, but then obviously got the tactics wrong in other matches and was directly at fault for shameful defeats. Also he had 3 chances to convince in Cup competitions, but on all 3 occasions United lost at semi-final stage (FA Cup, League Cup and Europa League).
All the promise for big spending this summer so far not proving to be true, even the so-called ‘cemented’ transfer of Jadon Sancho no longer on the cards as the player decided to stay at Dortmund. Instead inner midfielder Van de Beek was signed in somewhat strange move, as United are already loaded in this area and hardly need reinforcements there. At least United decreased their wage bill with the offloading of Alexis Sanchez.
The outlook for next season right now is clear, United will rely heavily on Pogba and Bruno to create chances for the fast, but not very prolific, forwards. It seems Solskajer will continue without a typical centre forward, Martial and Rashford set to rotate as leaders of the attack.
The midfield line is United’s biggest strength and, if both Pogba and Bruno manage to stay fit for a whole season, the results should be improved compared to last term. That’s a big if, though, as both players have recent history of serious injuries.
Many think that the main weakness is coach Solskjaer and he’s shown so far that he can’t deal very well with extra pressure during decisive moments of matches that matter a lot. Also, the back line remains a serious area of concern with goalkeeper De Gea in steep decline for 2 consecutive seasons now and all of the centre-backs slow and regularly hurt by speedy forwards.
Top 4 finish is a must, but right now doesn’t look to have enough quality, both in the squad and from managerial point of view, to achieve it. Still should be good enough to secure top 8 finish.