Editor’s Note: The 2020-21 Premier League season starts September 12th. If you haven’t already, review 2020-21 Premier League schedule and 2020-21 Premier League title odds. Also, review our Premier League matchday 1 lines.
Manchester United actually had a bizarre season last time around and managed to shock their own fans by how they ended it. At one point, it looked like the Red Devils wouldn’t even manage a top-5 finish, let alone earn a UEFA Champions League spot. But then Bruno Fernandes arrived & everything changed.
With the help of a rejuvenated squad & a bit of luck, United snuck in a top-3 finish – their best since the 2017/18 Premier League season!
But that finish only temporarily glued over some of the cracks in the squad. They ended up the season trophyless, losing 3 semi-finals, which isn’t acceptable at United. It’s quite obvious that major reinforcements are needed for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to take this side to the next level. Unless they sort out those problems with solid signings in the coming weeks, another disappointing season could lie await for the Red Devils.
Manchester United projected starting XI
At the time of writing this, United have only made a single acquisition in what is a crucial summer transfer window. Efficient young midfielder Donny van de Beek probably won’t be able to push Bruno Fernandes or Paul Pogba in the starting XI, but could slot in alongside them if Ole can move Pogba into a deeper role successfully.
The strongest team which ended last season should be the one to start this one as well. Expect Mason Greenwood to remain a regular right-winger up until (if) Jadon Sancho arrives, while Marcus Rashford & Anthony Martial will continue to remain a formidable duo upfront.
At the back, returning goalkeeper Dean Henderson could push out David de Gea from a starting role but the back four of Harry Maguire, Victor Lindelof, Aaron Wan-Bissaka & Luke Shaw should be the go-to backline until United can make some spectacular defensive signings.
Where will they finish?
If they end up being happy with just the one signing (which is unlikely) at the end of the summer window, United could be in for trouble. Nearly all of their Premier League rivals have reinforced their teams with better players for the coming season, with top-4 rivals Chelsea showing real ambition with a plethora of signing despite finishing last season on same points as the Red Devils.
United still have enough quality to compete for a top-4 place, but it’s hard to see them going much further with this squad. Even though Van de Beek should add that extra quality in midfield, they’re still lacking a proper right-winger & attack-minded full-backs.
However, if the Sancho deal gets done (which is likely) they should at least lodge a better fight and gain more points than they do last time around. They’d still be short of Liverpool or Man City’s level, but can at least fight for another top-3 season. Unless plagued with major injuries, United should produce some exciting stuff next season & manage a top-4 finish.
Key Players To Watch
Bruno remains the beating heart of United’s midfield & will most probably continue his brilliant form onto the next season. As he creates better chemistry with the forwards in the months to come, the Portuguese midfielder can easily reach double digits in goals scored+assisted next season. As long as the others can perform up to his level, expect Fernandes to light up their attack and continue to rile up opposition players.
But this is the season when Martial proves whether he’s truly world-class or not. Provides he stays injury-free, the Frenchman is in the best shape of his career and should be the focal point of United’s front-line. Having improved his physicality, hold-up play & now operating more like a nature centre-forward than an inside winger, Martial looks brimming with positive energy. As long as he takes his finishing accuracy to another level, expect Martial to possibly hit the 30-goal mark next season.
Greenwood should also take his goal-scoring spree to a whole new level as he’s expected to get more minutes next season. Irrespective of whether or not Sancho arrives, Greenwood will definitely get more than the 12 starts he received in the Premier League last season. He should also feature prominently in cup games and as long as his teammates can divert some defenders’ attention off him, the 18-year-old boy-wonder should continue ploughing emphatic goals & possibly reach the 20-goal mark next season.
Man United outlook
There’s no doubt any more than Solskjaer’s stint at United has produced more positives than negatives. He’s made efficient signings, promoted youth really well & improved many of those who underperformed prior to his arrival. He’s added a sense of togetherness and winning mentality to United & will keep pressing the young squad to reach their true potential.
But if not helped with necessary signings, Ole probably won’t be able to take United to the next level. But United have shown enough promise this year to indicate they will give a tougher fight this time around. The Red Devils should be more attractive to watch next season thanks to their exciting, young frontline & go toe-to-toe with the top sides. Finishing the campaign with a trophy as well as a top-4 finish is the minimum needed for Ole to keep his job, but early signs indicate they should at least achieve that bit next season.