After finishing third in the Premier League last season hopes and expectations are rising as fans may look to Manchester United to be more competitive on all fronts this season. The Old Trafford side also reached the last four in three competitions last year: expectations have started to rise again.
Domestically, whilst the third-place finish marks a significant improvement for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side; the club recognises how much further they must progress to truly challenge for the league title. The Red Devils’ surge into the Champions league positions was equally due to Leicester’s collapse in form and United’s kind fixture list following the league’s resumption.
Once fatigue had set in, United began to struggle – especially in the Europa League. Teams no longer afforded the young marksman Mason Greenwood any shooting opportunities, plus the injury to Luke Shaw tampered with the balance of the team.
To bridge the 33-point gap to league champions Liverpool, as well as compete in the Champions League, United must immediately strengthen in three positions: right-wing, left-back and centre back.
- Right-wing: The acquisition of Jadon Sancho would be a major coup as it would significantly reduce the recent reliance on Mason Greenwood and potentially allow Daniel James to go for a year out on loan
- Left-back: Luke Shaw is injury-prone and although Brandon Williams is a capable replacement, there is a need for a left-footed defender. Sergio Reguilon would be the perfect signing for United.
- Central Defence: United conceded the third-fewest goals and kept the fifth most clean sheets in the Premier League last season, however, Maguire and Lindelöf were both susceptible when isolated one-vs-one. RB Leipzig stalwart Dayot Upamecano would provide the ball-playing ability and defensive solidity required at Old Trafford.
In terms of key fixtures to look out for, United’s season kicks-off on 19 September at home to Crystal Palace, whilst the month of October sees the Mancunian side face tricky games against Tottenham, Chelsea and Arsenal.
12 December marks the first Manchester derby of the season at Old Trafford, with the return fixture at the Etihad on 6 March. The turn of the year sees United travel to Anfield to face Liverpool on 16 January, with the season due to end away at Wolves on 23 May, which could prove pivotal in the battle for European qualification.
With the season kicking off very soon, United will look to Bruno Fernandes to continue in his pioneering role, while relishing the prospect of a Pogba, van de Beek, and Fernandes midfield.
- Donny van de Beek from Ajax for £35.10 million
- Dean Henderson returned from his loan at Sheffield United
- Marcos Rojo returned from his loan at Estudiantes
- Cameron Borthwick-Jackson to Oldham Athletic on a free transfer
- Alexis Sanchez to Inter Milan on a free transfer
- Tahith Chong to Werder Bremen on loan
- Joel Pereira to Huddersfield on loan
- Odion Ighalo to SH Shenhua end of loan