Manchester United

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Season Guide
2020/2021

Manchester United

In


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;

Out


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.

Target


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.

Season Review
2019/2020

№3: Manchester United

Man United rode their luck to qualify for the Champions League at the last minute after beating crippled Leicester 2:0 away in the final round. The Red Devils will thank their unbeaten run from January onwards (W9 D5), which coincided with the winter signing of Bruno Fernandes. The Portuguese was the star of the Premier League in 2020 and single-handedly dragged United into the top 3. Another major factor for this surprising high finish was the seemingly pronounced support given by the officials with 14 penalties awarded in United’s favour and many other controversial decisions benefiting the Red Devils. No wonder from January onwards the term ‘VARchester United’ became popular. The strength shown in direct clashes vs rivals was crucial too. Wins in both Manchester derbies, 2 wins vs Chelsea and 4 points from 2 games vs Tottenham showed that on a good day United can cause problems to anyone. Defensively things remained shaky though, with Maguire struggling at times and De Gea having a second consecutive troubled season with many individual errors. Until Bruno’s signing in January the forward line were poor. However, after his arrival things improved in that area. Revitalised Martial, Rashford and Greenwood all finished the season in good form. United can’t rely on luck and help from the officials again in 2020/21. It's also not certain that Bruno will remain as effective with rivals having much more data to analyse him. With that in mind, only at least 3-4 high-profile new signings may allow United to remain top 4 contenders next season.


Player of the Season: Bruno Fernandes

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