20/21 Manchester United Premier League Season Preview

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Manchester United, under Sir Alex Ferguson, set the standard for Premier League football in the 1980s. They built up a powerful and deep youth system, and developed their own players, almost always homegrown, into superstars.

They had much more of an identity then, than they do now in the Glazer family/Ed Woodward era, but there are signs that this could be coming back now, under manager Ole Gunnar Solskajer. At least the transfer market m.o. seems to have a coherent theme now.

United seem to be going young, and often acquiring English players, instead of the fantasy team like, just get the biggest, most expensive name you can incoherence of the last few years. Also, of the eight finalists for the inaugural Premier League Young Player of the Season award, four were United players, with three having cut their teeth and established themselves in the club’s youth system.

2019-20 Review 

United achieved their second highest finish of the post Sir Alex era, ending up third in the table. However, the gap between themselves and the second place side, their intracity neighbors is a chasm. The divide between United and league champions Liverpool is Grand Canyonesque.

The club is still searching for their first trophy under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, having become the first team to ever get ousted in the semifinals of two domestic cup competitions and one European competition. However, they did finish top four, and that’s a tremendous accomplishment given the current state of the roster and club.

Summer Transfer Window 

United were the last big six club to sign a player this summer, adding Ajax midfielder Donny van De Beek. He’s perfect for this system, and a great pick-up. Word is they will try again to get Borussia Dortmund sensation Jadon Sancho, having seen the enormously protracted and ridiculously tedious transfer saga go nowhere.

Nothing will happen though unless Old Trafford is willing to break the bank on the English international’s transfer fee and salary. The club might be better served by upgrading and central defender and left back, instead of going all in on one right-sided attacking player.

Attack 

Obviously, acquiring Sancho would be massive, and give the final third an entirely new and highly bolstered dimension. However, Mason Greenwood was a revelation this past season, and you definitely don’t want to stunt his growth by forcing him to the bench, which a Sancho acquisition would do.

Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford round out the attack with Odion Ighalo as a second striker. The group is talented, and effective, but still need to get better at converting their scoring chances. United would have had a much better season if they were slightly better at finishing off opportunities in the attacking third.

Midfield 

The unquestioned strength of the team, hands down. While Paul Pogba is the club’s all-time most expensive player and probably their best overall individual talent, it’s Bruno Fernandes who is the team’s best player right now.

When he arrived at the tail end of the January transfer window, everything changed. They’ll go as far this upcoming season as the Portugese magnifico can carry them. With Van de Beek, you have a really stellar starting troika. In Fred, Nemanja Matic and Scott McTominay, the second triad is pretty good too.

Defense 

Despite his legal troubles, centre back Harry Maguire will retain the captaincy. The club is supporting him right now, so perhaps he’ll ultimately be vindicated in this situation, once the case progesses through the appeal process.

His partner Victor Lindelof, had a better season, but there’s a reason the club is looking at getting Dayot Upamecano. Left back is an issue because although Luke Shaw is solid, he can’t be trusted upon the stay healthy, and there isn’t much quality behind him. Right back Aaron Wan-Bissaka is quietly one of the club’s best players.

Goalkeeping 

We have a good old position battle/controversy on our hands here. Dean Henderson has re-upped and committed his future to the club, and he wants to play now. Will that be at United, or will he have to go out on loan again?

David de Gea is not who he used to be, in recent years, but he’s also not ready to concede the No. 1 position at this point.

2020-21 Outlook

With the Chelsea spending spree, it’s going to be really tough to stay ahead of them in the standings this season. Unless the latter stages of the summer transfer window are drastically better than how it has gone so far, a fourth place finish for United looks likely.

Season Preview Series:  Tottenham Hotspur  Liverpool  Arsenal  Manchester City  Chelsea

Paul M. Banks runs The Sports Bank.net, which is partnered with News NowBanks, the author of “No, I Can’t Get You Free Tickets: Lessons Learned From a Life in the Sports Media Industry,” regularly contributes to WGN TVSports IllustratedChicago Now and SB Nation.

You can follow Banks, a former writer for Chicago Tribune.comon Twitter and his cat on Instagram.

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  1. Why did Man U n’t sign Jodan S ?

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