Manchester United 2019-20 Premier League Season Review, Synopsis

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You can look at the Manchester United 2019-20 season in any number of ways, but one should really start by dividing it into two sections: Before Bruno Fernandes and After Bruno Fernandes.

United are undefeated in their last 14 league contests, and have not suffered a loss since the midfield maestro arrived from Sporting CP in the January transfer window. They are also +23 in goal differential, in league play, over that span.

Their third place finish is the second highest of the post Sir Alex Ferguson era, they swept the Manchester Derby and they were one of just a few teams to make Liverpool, a side that won the league as easily as anybody ever has, drop points. They also swept fourth place Chelsea and fifth place Leicester City.

They’re back in Champions League, and after a very rocky start, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is clearly at the wheel.

That’s all good, but there is some bad too, unfortunately. Other than the one year disaster that was David Moyes, this was their lowest season point total in a generation. Also, the last time they finished this far out of first it was the 1970s. The Red Devils also lost at home to Crystal Palace for the first time in Premier League history and struggled very mightily with 16th place West Ham United.

They also lost to two of the three teams that suffered the drop- Bournemouth and Watford. 2019-20 brought some of the best of times and some of the worst of times, with maddening inconsistency in the 2019 portion of the slate. Of course, all those lows occured before the arrival of Fernandes.

There is still Europa League football to be played and United are favorites to win the whole thing. If they do so, it would be just the second time in club history and it would mark the first piece of silverware of Solskjaer. Given what loose footing OGS and United were on in December, a third place finish and a trophy, of any sort, can only be viewed as a massive victory.

Still United are a long way behind Liverpool and Man City, and no one who’s paying attention can really deny that. So how do they bridge the gap?

Defensively, they’ve really improved, especially so in the center of the back line. Left back depth is an issue though, as Luke Shaw has consistently shown that he cannot be counted on to stay healthy for a whole season. When fit, Shaw had been reliably solid, although not spectacular.

Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and Mason Greenwood are electric in attack, so much so that there is a real debate to be had about whether or not Borussia Dortmund’s Jadon Sancho is really worth the astronomically high asking price. United can afford him to be sure, but do they need him?

We covered this more, in detail, yesterday.

In goal, David de Gea just has not had the same elite, world-class form he once did when he was almost singlehandedly saving United, metaphorically and literally, week in and week out. If he can get back to that, now that he has way more quality around him, the rest of the league had better watch out.

Paul Pogba is a whole separate column and article in itself, as are the moves that should be made in the transfer window, but we have loads of time to cover that all this offseason.

Overall, they need at least two, maybe three upgrades this summer transfer window, and they would be back in the title hunt. Sancho is probably one of those, but at the same time, no one wants to see Greenwood go to the bench.

Solskjaer may or may not be the man in the long term to bring them back to elite level status, but he’s fine for right now, and you have to commend the progress that he’s shown. Plenty of room to grow yet, but Old Trafford is definitely moving in the right direction.

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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