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Return To Glory : Manchester United

Manchester United's Return To Glory
Started on 20 November 2019 by OohAhCantona
Latest Reply on 16 September 2020 by Lankyman22
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2021-22 MID SEASON TRANSFER WINDOW : FRENCH CONNECTION

Like someone finding out they were drunk on Amazon late at night, Mauricio Pochettino received a bunch of packages he didn’t remember ordering as (14) youth prospects arrived at the club. A number of them didn’t have work permits, and based on recent experience they weren’t going to get one. Pochettino and Luís Campos have some cleaning to do, luckily none of these players were extremely expensive so selling them on won’t be that painful.

A relatively quiet window only really had two newsworthy events, outside of all the ludicrous transfer rumors (Kylian Mbappé! Neymar! Ronaldo!) it was a very un-United transfer window. Barcelona bid £67M for Victor Tsygankov, an incredible return on the player, but with RW so thin after the work permit problems there was no way Pochettino was going to let him walk. Tsgankov smartly turned that into a chance to double his pay, but Campos wasn’t going to fall for it with him under contract for quite a while. The other story, that United tried to sweep under the rug, was the sale of Lucas Lourenço to Napoli. Looks like management was finally willing to give up on that one, who knows what he could have helped achieve at United?

Senior / Major Transfers (Out)
Lucas Lourenço (CAM, Napoli) £35.5M

Senior Transfers (In)
None

Final Transfer List (Impact Signings)
Flavien Rigal (CM, AS Monaco - France) £13.5M
Ousmane Kanté (RW, Bordeaux - France) £4.5M
Nicolas Rémy (CM, AS Nancy - France) £3.0M

Arsène Wenger would be proud, but he definitely wouldn’t have ponied up £13.5M for a 15-year old French midfielder. Campos and Pochettino have spent some time shifting their scouting search to France, a rising number of French players in the senior squad (Ousmane Dembélé, Anthony Martial, Eduardo Camavinga, Dayot Upamecano) seems to be encouraging them to look across the channel a little more aggressively. The signing of Flavien Rigal might be the apex of their search, the fact they were willing to pay so much for someone so young shows they either know he’s going to be great or have more money than sense. Rigal has shown a level of skill more appropriate for someone in their 20’s, and United’s scouts couldn’t be more excited about him. Reports are that Campos and Chief Scout Jim Lawlor made multiple trips to observe him and came back demanding that United bring him over immediately. He’s been compared to Danny Ginger (Noix de Gingembre?) in terms of having “unlimited” potential, but we’ve seen this kind of exuberance before and little came of it.


Arsène approves.
A lot of money to be spent on someone so young!
2020-04-11 13:29#268485 ScottT : A lot of money to be spent on someone so young!

I'm definitely in the "more money than sense" zone right now.

2021-22 SECOND HALF : WHO NEEDS DEFENSE?

The first half of the season would turn out to be an act the team couldn’t follow up on, at least not at the same level. Wins are wins, but the league started to figure out Mauricio Pochettino’s attack, using their aggressive attack against them. Despite allowing more goals against, it doesn’t matter if you give up a goal if you score four yourself.

MATCH(ES) OF THE SECOND HALF

Premier League (H) : Manchester United 10 - Burnley 0

The second to last game of the season, with the title locked up a long time ago, but Pochettino wasn’t going to pack up until the season was over. This game turned into an outright blood bath, and it ranks as one of the best games of the second half because it was such an impressive scoring performance that also helped Marcus Rashford in his chase of harry Kane.

The score isn’t that surprising if you know that Burnley had two men sent off; Ashley Barnes (38’) and James Garner (77’). The surprise came around the PoM and Rashford’s previous league game. Prior to those games Rashford was (6) goals back of Kane for the league lead, but a hat trick in the previous game and (4) in this game helped him pull (1) ahead to knock Kane of his f*cking perch. The oddity around the PoM was Rashford failing to win it, Ousmane Dembélé would steal it from him with (2) assists to go with his hat trick. The win would also set a new Premier League record for largest win, besting United’s own 9-0 win over Ipswich Town in 1995. This game would also be an omen of things to come...


Champions League (N) : PSG 5 - Manchester United 6


Yes, United had allowed a few more goals in the second half but nobody could have seen this game coming. Not once had Pochettino’s side allowed more than (2) goals, and everyone knew they could pile on the goals themselves. After beating up everyone else, United came into this game as heavy favorites against Ernesto Valverde’s side. The media had all but crowned them champions already, if that wasn’t bad enough the storylines for this game were just too much to resist. Playing against Paul Pogba, who left United to win the Champions League, could have fueled the media by itself for weeks.

At first, it looked like the media had it right. PSG looked lost under the constant pressure of United and their quick attack, it looked like this was going to be ugly for Valverde. It didn’t help when Jadon Sancho scored at 21’ with a gorgeous opening goal. Dembélé would feed Álvaro Odriozola with a cheeky heel pass who would send the ball into the box from the right sideline, 10 yards out from the top of the box, and Sancho slipped in behind Presnel Kimpembe with Héctor Bellerín helplessly trailing behind him to head the ball in. Florentino Luís would score at 24’, and then Sancho again at 28’, and then Dayot Upamecano off a corner at 34’. Up 4-0, the rout was on. PSG walked off the field with their heads down, they looked like they wanted to get on a bus back to Paris more than anything.

If their spirits seemed low at the half, things really got dark for PSG fans not long after the half. They appeared to stop the bleeding, but they couldn’t keep United out of their end of the field. Florentino Luís, Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, and Bruno Fernandes were forming a triangle of death for PSG and it looked like nothing could stop them. Juan Bernat was unfortunate enough to knock a United corner into his own net at 57’ and Kimpembe copied him at 60’ to put United up 6-0 with just half an hour left to play. PSG were cooked, but to his credit Kylian Mbappé wasn’t giving up.

This started to turn against Pochettino not long after PSG seemed to be at their lowest, Christian Eriksen was left alone in the box and he broke the game open for PSG with a killer goal. Odriozola ended up knocking a PSG cross into his own net at 67’ and all of a sudden that 6-0 lead was only 6-2. Mbappé didn’t really have a reason to doubt his part in the game, he was making Harry Maguire look like a statue all game but the PSG attack was having trouble getting the ball to him regularly. Valverde made a bit of a switch and essentially decided to go Route One on United, betting that Mbappé could handle Maguire. That bet started to pay off. Over, and over, and over again. At 77’ Mbappé snuck past Maguire at the near post on a Bellerín cross from the end line to poke the ball away from him and make it 6-3. Then, almost comically, he would do the same thing again at 88’ on a nearly identical exchange with Bellerín to make it 6-4. PSG seemed to be on the cusp of the impossible, United was on the verge of giving up a 6-0 lead in less than half an hour and Mbappé seemed primed to make it happen. Pochettino should have taken Maguire off, or put Upamecano on him, but Mbappé just kept going back to the well. The game went into stoppage time and the win seemed safe until 90+5’ when Pogba threaded a ball through to, yes, Mbappé beating Maguire like a rented mule for a hat trick. PSG ran the ball back to midfield but couldn’t get enough of the ball to close it out and United won 6-5 in the ugliest way possible.

A nervous United hoisted the trophy to cap off a Quadruple, if you count the Community Shield. Pochettino was brought in to complete a task and he did it, albeit with some doubt right at the end. Banners are forever, and 6-5 wins after being up 6-0 at 60’ fade in the memory.

TAKE THAT ARSENAL!

Aside from the Champions League final, and a single loss across all competitions, United cruised through the 2021-22 with great ease. Not only did Pochettino snatch the Invincible title away from Arsenal, he did it by bettering Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s record breaking 2020-21 season.

Perhaps it was an attempt to avoid the pitfalls of Solskjaer’s reign, or perhaps it was just what the squad was capable of, Pochettino did not approach the other big teams with caution. There was a balance created by that approach, like the 3-2 win over Liverpool after falling behind 1-0, but for the most part it resulted in solid wins that were rarely in doubt (Manchester City 4-0, Juventus 5-1, Spurs 2-0, Arsenal 3-1, and Chelsea 4-0). Pochettino’s second squad was also extremely reliable, though they were responsible for the only loss of the season with a 2-0 defeat to Manchester City in the Carabao Cup. The loss didn’t eliminate them from the Cup, but they weren’t able to pull ahead in the second leg with 2-0 win and lost on penalties. Nobody came out and said it, but the Carabao Cup is not particularly important to the club so being eliminated didn’t have much impact on Pochettino’s job security. The Emirates Cup was another issue, after opening January with a 1-1 draw with Everton that forced a replay the second squad didn’t allow a single goal through the rest of the competition. Everton seemed excited about a replay, giving them a second chance to win, but United crushed them 4-0 at Old Trafford.

In terms of roster construction, very little changed outside of Victor Lindelöf’s relationship with Pochettino. Half a season of minor bust-ups, mostly around playing time and contract status, resulted in Lindelöf being demoted to the bench with Albin Elmander taking his starting spot in the second squad. This likely marks the end of his time at United after refusing a transfer last year, not the way anyone envisioned his time at Old Trafford ending.

It’s hard to break out anything as tipping the scales in one way or the other, Pochettino managed to put together such a broadly successful season it’s almost hard to see them repeating it. If they do, this may be the start of a great dynasty to rival Sir Alex Ferguson’s.



CARNEIRO’S CORNER : INJURY REPORT

Outside of the usual bumps and bruises that cost a few days Pochettino was pretty fortunate. The worst injury, in terms of time out, was youngster Luís Nazário breaking his collarbone in early January. The injury would knock him out for (5) weeks, exposing Pochettino to problems if Rashford or Marcus Greenwood missed significant time.

March and April would be United’s most injury riddled months. Jorge would hurt his knee in a collision during a game, also knocking out the guy he collided with, and have to sit out (4) weeks. Sergej Milinkovic-Savic would join him for almost (2) weeks after twisting his ankle. Dembélé would assert himself as the Injury King with a (4) week stint in Carneiro’s office, a twisted ankle in a game against Reading would keep him out for most of April. Florentino Luís would be the last major injury, breaking a rib in practice late in April and knocking him out for (3) weeks. Luckily he was able to return in time for the Champions League final, turns out his absence might have been a serious problem.
Some absolutely crazy scorelines in there. Congratulations on winning the Premier League title once again and what a way to win it against PSG, wow!
Brilliant stuff mate! I can only imagine winning the league undefeated in my United save and I am in 2027! You have done a great job, continue the United resurgence mate love it!

2021-22 YOUTH INTAKE & U-23/U-18 PERFORMANCE

United ended up signing quite a few more players than usual as they tried to fix their work permit problems, they got a good crop to make that move with. A rather deep group of players lacked superstars, only one player really stood out from an oddly young group. Most of the players signed were between 15 and 16, hard to tell if that means these players are more advanced or all of the better players were scooped up by other teams.

Lord North (CM - England) : A natural deep lying playmaker with a great name, he’s already shown high tactical intelligence and the kind of mental acuity that coaches love. Very determined and quick, he has a solid technical base but is only a decent passer at the moment. In what seems to be a pattern with this class he’s good on the ball but lacking in off-the-ball skills. Definitely needs to work on aspects of his game, but he has plenty of time and the right tools to become a member of the senior squad.

William Appleyard (LW/LB - England) : Weird player who can play just about any position along the left side of the field. United only use a LB and LW, so his experience as an advanced wing back or left sided midfielder isn’t going to help him much. He will probably start off as a LW / inside forward, LB is pretty deep at United and the class included someone that plays exclusively at LB so he’ll probably get more playing time as a forward. He fits the United mold as a quick player with the flair and creativity needed to funnel attacks down the wing.

Jean-Christophe Loubet (CAM - Belgium) : Has drawn favorable comparisons to Hakim Ziyech, but that also comes with a dig at some of his on-field performance. A very quick and (overly) aggressive attacker who has unlimited confidence in his ability to dribble through the other team, he’s the kind of attack-minded player that could thrive in Pochettino’s system. The problem is he tries to take on opponents too much, hasn’t seen a shot he wouldn’t take, and can tend to ignore his teammates. The Ziyech comparison is evident on these points, he’s a wizard with the ball but when he doesn’t have it (or the opponent has it) he can vanish from games or appear uninterested. He will be an interesting challenge for United’s youth coaches.

U-23 : This side appears to be loaded with a number of future stars, a number of them spent the season on loan so they didn’t help the U-23 side. Luís Nazário (CF - Norwich), Pedro Durán (CAM - Destroyers), and King Holland (LB - Reading) all put up the kind of seasons that will earn them a spot in the senior squad soon. As for those that stayed, they had a very solid season with Danny Ginger leading the way. They won the U-23 Premier League, Leasing.com Trophy with a 6-0 win over Plymouth, and the EPL International Cup.

U-18 : A little more subdued thanks to the work permit problems and players aging out of the team, the squad showed a lot of promise and will likely consist of youth intake going forward. They earned a domestic double by winning the U-18 Premier League and FA Youth Cup easily
Success all across the board!

2021-22 POSTSEASON

No two ways about it, Mauricio Pochettino managed to finish the season as the greatest Premier League team of all time. 34-2-0 sets a high mark for anyone else looking to add the ‘Invincible’ title to their team, it’s hard to believe anyone can top a season like that. Their (110) points is a new record, winning the league by (18) over an extremely good Manchester City who finished with (92) points. Their (115) goals is a new record, and the (17) allowed was good for 1st by a wide margin.

In league news, United is clearly starting to fall behind some of the other giants in the league. Two league wins and a Champions League trophy won’t paper over the structural problems that have plagued the club since Ferguson’s retirement. Most notably, Liverpool continues to have the foundation for sustained runs at United’s title record along with extending their Champions League trophy haul. Their recently completed Kirkby training center makes United’s facilities look derelict by comparison, and the already completed upgrades to Anfield are putting pressure on ownership to continue making updates like the one approved last year. Pochettino has managed to push for training facilities upgrades, but inside sources report that he’s pushing for a brand new facility that would rank as the best in the world.


Will upgrades be enough?

Pochettino might be pushing so hard because he sees how little room for error there is in the Premier League. He was sacked at Spurs after the greatest run in team history, he saw Solskjaer dismissed after an incredible season, and this year Manchester City sacked Pep Guardiola for finishing 2nd in the league. Owners are becoming impatient, and even the most successful coaches get shown the door with little notice.

SECOND HALF AWARDS & PLAUDITS

With a season like this, the awards were bound to pour in. The most obvious award, which the media was already calling in January, was Manager Of The Year. If Pochettino wasn’t going to win it for the job he’s done, the voting was rigged. It was mostly the usual suspects for United; Fernandes, Rashford, and David De Gea were all headed for awards after putting up great seasons. No major awards, like the Ballon d’Or, but the team silverware would make up for it. They did manage to stuff the Premier League Team Of The Year with players, some might argue they should have had more, De Gea was excellent as usual but came in 2nd to Ederson.



The 10-0 beating of Burnley would help propel Rashford to a league scoring title, finishing the season with (27) to Kane’s (25) after scoring once more in their final game. Erling Braut Håland would make a run at the start of the season, but the newly purchased Leicester target man really dropped off in the second half and finished with (19) for 3rd.

Speaking of goal scoring, Pochettino got a ton of goals from a source nobody would have seen coming : central defense. Rashford would lead the team with (34) across all competitions, but second would go to Dayot Upamecano with (22) in (40) appearances. The Frenchman was brought in as an elite central defender with the speed to neutralize faster forwards, but he turned out to be an absolute assassin on corners. Mason Greenwood (17) and Anthony Martial (16) weren’t even that close to Upamecano, he even had a (4) goal performance against Southampton that was hard to believe. Harry Maguire (7), Albin Elmander (5), and Armel Bella-Kotchap (5) also did their part. The wingbacks weren’t left out, Álvaro Odriozola led the way with (10) to go along with his (13) assists. When you look at how much scoring came from defenders it’s no wonder this team set a league record for goals scored.


Corner savant.

Bruno Fernandes would somehow manage to up his game after putting up a great season last year. He would bring his assists total from (18) to (33) across all competitions. He would end up second in league assists to Mohamed Salah (23), but 1st in average rating (7.91) over high-scoring teammate Upamecano (7.75). Pochettino clearly managed to get the best out of his players, that’s one thing he took from Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s term in charge.

Manager Of The Year : Mauricio Pochettino
European Golden Shoe : Marcus Rashford - (27) goals
Premier League Player Of The Year : Bruno Fernandes
Young Premier League Player Of The Year : Dayot Upamecano
Champions League Best GK : David De Gea
Champions League Best Defender : Dayot Upamecano
Champions League Best Midfielder : Bruno Fernandes
As a United fan myself I'm loving seeing United proceed to dominance once again and in such a manner! Rashford, De Gea, Bruno and Upamecano seem to be vital to the success and by now, surely De Gea deserves a statue! For Upamecano to get 22 goals across a season, mostly from corners.... I need that set piece routine man! And Brunos 33 assists in a season is mental. Great work. ;). And to go unbeaten, up yours Arsenal 03/04!
2020-04-21 07:56#268908 Eoin97 : As a United fan myself I'm loving seeing United proceed to dominance once again and in such a manner! Rashford, De Gea, Bruno and Upamecano seem to be vital to the success and by now, surely De Gea deserves a statue! For Upamecano to get 22 goals across a season, mostly from corners.... I need that set piece routine man! And Brunos 33 assists in a season is mental. Great work. ;). And to go unbeaten, up yours Arsenal 03/04!

https://www.fmscout.com/a-jamies-attacking-catenaccio-fm19-tactic.html

Having Fernandes take corners helped boost his assists total, Upamecano is apparently perfect for the set pieces when put in at the left CB position. I have yet to experiment with other players in that position, but since FM19 the corner has been a solid weapon for me.
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2022-23 : THE (RED) DEVIL’S OWN LUCK

Breaking the Real Madrid / Liverpool monopoly on the Champions League was quite an accomplishment for Mauricio Pochettino, and now he’s tasked with doing it again. Even Pochettino was quick to point out how lucky the team was at times, even great teams can lose here and there but Manchester United managed to blast their way through the Premier League like nobody ever has. Getting back to the Champions League final and winning it again will probably be even more difficult than before, the bar that has been set by Ma Huateng is now higher than anyone could have expected. United had passed Liverpool domestically, and both Pochettino and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer helped extend that lead, but now the bar is Liverpool’s (8) Champions League trophies. Winning United’s 4th was a huge accomplishment, but now the club needs to win (5) more and ownership expects Pochettino to get that done. Will the weight of expectations crush him, or push the team to greater heights?


Lucky, or good? This season might sort it out.

This season may prove more difficult than the last for a number of reasons beyond the challenge of repeating. The coaching carousel has moved some familiar faces around, particularly in Italy where Pep Guardiola takes over at Inter Milan along with a serious cash injection thanks to a new ownership group. Massimiliano Allegri takes over for Guardiola at Manchester City, Jürgen Klopp is still at Barcelona, and Thomas Tuchel has been given even more backing to succeed at Liverpool. Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, Juventus, and PSG are also gearing up to make sure United don’t hoist the trophy again. The 2022 World Cup in Qatar is also going to make things much worse, losing a month and a half of the season in November / December means a vicious fixture crush from January on. Pochettino is going to be pushed to his limits this year, an injury at the wrong time could mean disaster.


Worst timing ever.
The Qatar World Cup will surely make the season alot harder and players will be beat up. But will it dampen Uniteds impact in the league and Europe?

2022-23 ROSTER & TACTICS

No need to tinker here, just one major change to a roster that looked like the best in the world. United still has a ton of money for transfers but Mauricio Pochettino has decided to stick with what already works. This team has already built so many excellent relationships, it would be a shame to break them up and risk a dip in play.

Pochettino continues to put emphasis on wing back play, United will always spend what they need to make sure they have some of (if not the) best wing backs in the world. Crosses from wing backs, and to a lesser extent the wingers / inside forwards, were a massive source of goals. It was no accident that Anthony Martial had a huge goal scoring season playing across the field from Enzo Marino and Victor Tsygankov, the back post has become one of the most dangerous places for opponents and that isn’t going to change this year.


Goalkeepers
David De Gea (31) is unsurprisingly back and will have an even tighter hold on the starting spot. Mike Maignan was sold off and Dean Henderson (25) found his way to the senior squad only because he’s too old for the U-23 side. De Gea signed a new contract through 2026 that makes him United’s highest paid player, there is little chance he’s going anywhere.

Best Player : David De Gea (Captain)

Defenders
Pochettino managed to, or was allowed to, do what Ole Gunnar Solskjaer couldn’t. Ownership has appeared to be swift in correcting previous signings that they didn’t agree with and CB became their primary target. Victor Lindelöf, who refused to leave during Solskjaer’s time, lost his spot to emerging talent Albin Elmander (19) and realized it was his time to leave. The shocking move was the sale of Harry Maguire, but considering Pochettino’s thirst for fast defenders he found himself the last slow man standing. The Champions League final, where Kylian Mbappé made a fool of him, was probably the final straw. Joining Dayot Upamecano (23) in the first squad is new signing Jean-Clair Todibo (22), speed at the back will no longer be an issue. Elmander and Armel Bella-Kotchap (20) form an incredibly young second squad, but they played well enough to stick. With the bench slot open László Puskás (19) moves up full time, he spent last year starting for Huddersfield in the Championship so he can be trusted as a short term injury fill in.


No more Mbappé nightmares.

Very little change on the outsides as Álvaro Odriozola (26) and Jorge (26) return at RB and LB and don’t seem to be at risk of losing their spots, despite extracting a promise to win the Champions League Jorge appears to be happy at United. They will be backed up again by Luca Pellegrini (23) and Enzo Marino (19). If anyone is actually at risk of being sold it would be Odriozola, Marino has far exceeded expectations and word out of United is that Pochettino has really taken to him and believes he could hold up to 1st squad duty. Renato Leônidas (18) returns as a LB bench option, the only change is the promotion of super sub Edward Wessex (18) who is primarily a RB but can handle LB as well as CB in a dire emergency.

Best Player : Dayot Upamecano

Midfielders
If you have an extremely dominant midfield, don’t change a thing! Sergej Milinkovic-Savic (27) and Florentino Luís (22) return as the BBM-DLP combo that managed to seamlessly handle the loss of Paul Pogba, these two are absolute locks to stay at United for a while. Eduardo Camaving (19) and Ryan Gravenberch (20) remain their backups and the reason Danny Ginger (17) is still on the U-23 squad, Nadiem Amiri (25) is still coming off the bench as a super sub for both positions in the double pivot along with CAM in an emergency.

Bruno Fernandes (27) returns as the starting CAM and now has a captain’s armband, he’s been incredible since joining and won’t be going anywhere unless he forces his way out. Dani Olmo (24) is back as the second squad CAM after having a decent first year at United, he’s probably the low hanging fruit in the Ginger Promotion Push as he might be good enough to push for 1st squad playing time elsewhere. If this happens Gravenberch will likely move the CAM to make room for Ginger.

Best Player : Bruno Fernandes (Vice Captain)

Forwards
The only change in this group is the sale of Tahith Chong and Angel Gomes to open up a spot on the bench. Jadon Sancho (22) and Ousmane Dembélé (25) are still the starting LW/RW combo with Anthony Martial (26) and Victor Tsygankov (24) taking the second squad. Youngster Byron Caicedo (19) is coming off a good loan spell at SPAL last year, his ability to play both wings will give him ample opportunity to fill in off the bench regularly. This upgraded group did a great job last year, Martial continued his scoring streak but the general level of creativity from all of them helped boost United to a record scoring season. Antonio Marin (21) could have come off the bench, but he’s too good to rot on the bench so he was sent to Leicester on loan.

Marcus Rashford (24) will continue to start at CF with Mason Greenwood (20) right behind him. Luís Nazário (18) is off to Real Madrid on loan, and everyone else is well behind these two. There is no risk of losing their place, but contract grumblings could see one of them sold off after the season.

Best Player : Ousmane Dembélé
An insane squad at Poch`s disposal for the upcoming season!

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