Manchester United ended this season 6th and without any silverware, it was definitely a season to forget as they struggled all season and had to watch Manchester City win the English domestic treble, Liverpool win their 6th Champions League trophy, Chelsea lift the Europa League, even Spurs & Arsenal won runner up medals in their respective European campaigns.
So, what went wrong and what do they need to do to close the gap on their rivals and fight for silverware once again.
With an inexperienced manager, a lot of average players and star players unhappy, this summer will be crucial for Solskjaer to make his mark on this squad and give us a view of what direction this once proud and successful club is heading.
After conceding 54 goals and only keeping 7 clean sheets all season the defence is due a massive overhaul. Luke Shaw & Victor Lindelof are the only defenders that have done enough to secure their place in the squad next season. Dalot is young and has already shown glimpses of his attacking and defending strengths and can only improve. Tuanzebe has impressed with his loan spell at Aston Villa so he has earned a chance to impress the boss on the pre-season tour, Whereas Young, Jones & Smalling who signed 1 year extensions with the club (not sure why Man United did that) they seem set to stay but I don’t see them being at the club after next season unless they drastically improve. Bailly, Darmian & Rojo are all surplus to requirements and should be sold off to make way for new blood. Ideally the 2 main targets I think United need are Aaron Wan-Bissaka & Matthijs de Ligt but both will cost serious money and are being targeted by Europe’s top clubs but if that fails then Milan Skriniar (Inter Milan), Raphael Varane & Sergio Ramos (both Real Madrid) & Youcef Atal (Nice). One worry for United is the fear of David De Gea leaving as he is linked with PSG, If he is to call it time on his United career in my mind there is only 1 player to replace him and that is Gianluigi Donnarumma from AC Milan, He may cost a bit but he would be an investment at the age of 20.
When it comes to the midfield there is only 1 priority this season, keep hold of Paul Pogba at all costs and build the team around him. Despite the poor season he finished top for United in scoring, assists and passes completed. With Ander Herrera seemingly joining PSG on a free they need a couple of options to help relieve the pressure off Pogba. Scott McTominay had a stellar finish to the campaign and secured his spot for next season, also Fred & Andreas Pereira played average when called upon and next season will be a crucial one for them. Mata & Matic should be sold as they’re no longer up to the standard of a Manchester United midfielder. I think United only need to bring in another 2 or 3 midfielders this summer. Adrien Rabiot should be brought in as he is a free agent this summer from PSG, Declan Rice (West Ham) had a great season and would be a great investment to play the CDM role, Saul (Atletico Madrid), James Rodriguez (Real Madrid), Youri Tielmans (Monaco) & Bruno Fernandes (Lisbon) are other options they should be looking at.
Now for the part of the squad that on paper should be world class but on the pitch are below par. Alexis Sanchez should be sold as he has struggled with injuries and just hasn’t seemed motivated all season and needs a fresh start, Romelu Lukaku should be let go for the right price as he doesn’t seem to fit Solskjaer’s quick attacking style of play as he is more of a target man that holds the ball up, slows down play and has the 1st touch of a baby elephant. Anthony Martial, Jesse Lingard & Marcus Rashford all have secured their spots for next season as they’re the future of this club, hopefully they all work hard this offseason and come back firing next season. United need another striker and a true right midfielder/winger. There is so many names you could throw at those positions but for me the main 2 should be Jadon Sancho (Borussia Dortmund) who is a young English talent that has taken the Bundesliga by storm & Joao Felix (Benfica) the 19 year old Portuguese dubbed the next Ronaldo had a great season scoring 20 goals in 43 games, both would come with a hefty price tag but would be core for years to come at United, If the club fail with those 2 then there are a couple of names that would still be good signings and they’re Nicolas Pepe (Lille), Paulo Dybala (Juventus), Ryan Sessegnon (Fulham), Antoine Griezmann (Atletico Madrid). They have just secured the signature of Daniel James for around 15 million from Swansea who seems a good young Welsh talent, he can play on the left, right or down the middle.
When it comes to the Youth Academy Stars like Angel Gomes, Tahith Chong, James Garner & Mason Greenwood, would benefit being loaned out to gain 1st team football as they are the future of this club.
Next season will be huge for Man United and Solskjaer as their focus should be getting back into Champions League football with a top 4 finish or Europa League win. Time will tell this summer how serious they are about doing that because if they don’t then its going be another long and disappointing season for The Red Devils and the fans. The Theatre of Dreams may quickly become The Theatre of Nightmares.