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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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A very youthful squad for the upcoming season. Never change a winning formula though and Poch knows that.

2022-23 KIT RELEASED

Nike and Lenovo are feeling pretty good about their investment right about now, with United on top of the world (at least right now) kits sales have surged at home and abroad. You can’t go anywhere in China without seeing a United player in some kind of ad, with ownership continuing to push the team in Asia these kits will probably become a familiar sight on the street.


Aside from the subtle pattern on the home and away kit these designs are fairly tame. From afar they will look more like United’s classic designs, you will only be able to pick up the pattern in closeups and high-res pictures. The third kit is a bit of a different story, after flirting with pink in 2018-19 this is a full blown adoption of the brightest pink possible. United haven’t gone this bold with a third kit color since their bizarre Arsenal-esque designs of the early 70’s. The team has often mentioned their desire to stick to a more traditional colors scheme so this may be the last time we see such an aggressive deviation.
Loving those kits. I'd say the bold choice of bright pink will be a cult kit hit!
The third kit is very bold.

2022-23 PRESEASON : UNITED HIT THE AUTOBAHN


After flying half way across the world last year the team took a break by taking a trip to western Germany. The North Rhine-Westphalia region proved to be a great location for training camp, and perhaps a little shot at Borussia Dortmund who are often trying to buy United’s youth players on the cusp of senior football. With the Qatar World Cup looming, and possibly one of the most brutal November-May schedules you can imagine, Pochettino wanted to reduce the amount of preseason travel the team went through.


Friendly (A) : Borussia Dortmund 0 - Manchester United 3
Friendly (A) : SV Mattersburg 0 - Manchester United 5
Friendly (H) : Manchester United 4 - PAOK 0
Friendly (A) : RB Salzburg 2 - Manchester United 2
Friendly (A) : AS Saint-Étienne 0 - Manchester United 3

Fairly standard preseason since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer took over, mostly one sided wins against weaker teams or ones trying to develop their level of fitness. The RB Salzburg game jumps out as an outlier, but United played a number of youth prospects in that game to give their players a bit of a rest. Pochettino has started to use some of these games to scout his own players against better competition. Youngsters like King Holland, Pedro Durán (who might be headed to Dortmund on loan), and Branko Oblak got their chance to impress coaches at home and abroad. The preseason may turn into a loan showcase as United continue to swell with youth players.
Good preparation for the team. Hopefully another title to come and more.
A brilliant pre-season. Looking forward to seeing what this new season brings.

SUMMER TRANSFER WINDOW : FRENCHIER CONNECTION

As mentioned previously this window had Mauricio Pochettino focus on shedding roster detritus and getting faster at CB. Victor Lindelöf no longer had a place in the squad and Kylian Mbappé killed Harry Maguire in front of a global audience. There was a fair amount of bidding on the two but Real Madrid and Arsenal, who was after Lindelöf before last year, were the most aggressive in landing them. The fact that United took a £15M loss on Maguire floated under the radar as the club boasted a massive transfer budget that was rumored to be north of £400M, the money that came in with additional sales helped paper over that financial misstep.

With Maguire gone it left a hole in the starting roster that Pochettino quickly filled with Barcelona CB, and national team partner of Dayet Upamecano, Jean-Clair Todibo. United was rumored to be watching him during Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s time at the club, so having the cash and a spot for him made the deal go by smoothly. He’s much younger and much faster than Maguire, hopefully he doesn’t fall out of favor in a few years and lose £15M in a transfer deal. Outside of a spending spree on youth players, that was all the transfer business United really needed to do.

One of the bigger stories of the window turned out to be a “transfer saga” involving Bruno Fernandes that didn’t really exist. Real Madrid, already high on stealing Maguire, were the chief agitators and Sergio Ramos would tell anyone who would listen that Fernandes needed to come to Madrid. While Fernandes was a true professional on the issue, not once did he make a statement on his own, he allowed United’s media wing to handle the issue. Fernandes’ agent, Miguel Ruben Pinho, was quick to take advantage of the whole thing and spun the transfer interest into a new £14M/year deal for (4) years. The deal will likely keep Fernandes at United through his prime.


Someone earned their paycheck...

Senior / Major Transfers (Out)
Harry Maguire (CB, Real Madrid) £65M
Victor Lindelöf (CB, Arsenal) £54M
Mike Maignan (GK, Leicester) £22.5M
Angel Gomes (CAM, Bayer 04 Leverkusen) £15.5M
Tahith Chong (RW, AZ Alkmaar) £10.75M

Senior Transfers (In)
Jean-Clair Todibo (CB, Barcelona) £80M

Final Transfer List (Impact Signings)
Alexis López (LW, Sevilla - Spain) £8.5M
Maurice Engbrecht (CB, Ajax - Netherlands) £6.75M
Dominique Six (RW, Toulouse - France) £6M
Gabriel Platini (CB, Sochaux - France) £3.7M
Hasan Hanoğlu (CF, Fenerbahçe - Turkey) £3.7M
Aitor Prieto (RW, Athletic Bilbao - Spain) £3.5M
Valentin Martinique (CF, RC Lens - France) £3M
Maurizio Marino (RB, Sassuolo - Italy) £2.8M
Michel Étienne (RW, PSG - France) £2.4M
Renzo Maatrijk (LB, FC Groningen - Netherlands) £2M
Igor Kasunic (RW, Nogometni klub Dugopolje - Croatia) £1.6M
Venâncio Sales Bueno (CB, São Paulo - Brazil) £1.6M
Adão Haabo (CAM, Sparta Rotterdam - Netherlands) £1.6M
Pierre-Olivier Arnaud (CM, Toulouse - France) £1.2M
Slavisa Buzadzija (CB, Spartak Zlatibor Voda - Serbia) £850K
Wouter Wennemars (LB, De Graafschap - Netherlands) £800K
Leon Elzinga (LW, FC Groningen - Netherlands) £675K
Fernandinho (CAM, Americano- Brazil) £375K
Antoine Roy (CM, Sochaux - France) £425K
Sócrates de Andrade (CAM, AC Paranavaí - Brazil) £325K
Alanzinho (CM, Bangu - Brazil) £250K
Olivier Okoye (CM, RC Abidjan - Ivory Coast) £175K
Eppie Jorritsma (CB, HNK Hajduk Split - Netherlands) £155K
Gérson Assunção (CF, Caxias - Brazil) £125K

To be blunt, Luís Campos is on the spot with new ownership. While most of the purchases happened prior to his arrival, the sheer number of players under contract by United that cannot get a work permit is staggering. The approach was to loan them out until they could get a permit, but the Lucas Lourenço saga shows that even if they play two full seasons for a major team in a top league they aren’t going to be handed a permit. The board has directed Campos to sell off the vast majority of the players without a work permit and focus his attention on EU Nationals and building their youth intake. This is a semi-major blow to what they were building, but things have been going so well financially they can afford to take a little more time.
Huge fee spent on Todibo!
2020-05-07 19:57#270149 ScottT : Huge fee spent on Todibo!

I have so much money I don't know what to do with it.
2020-05-07 20:49#270154 OohAhCantona :
2020-05-07 19:57#270149 ScottT : Huge fee spent on Todibo!

I have so much money I don't know what to do with it.
There are worse problems to have! :P

2022-23 FIRST HALF : THE BAR IS HIGH

After the greatest season in Premier League history, the only place United can really go is down. That isn’t necessarily bad for Mauricio Pochettino, nobody can reasonably expect the team to constantly improve or inch closer to a 38-0-0 league record, but everyone knew he was going to face constant comparisons to last year. One advantage that Pochettino has coming into this season is a wider lead on the rest of the league in terms of stadium size, a completed expansion now has Old Trafford seating 91,650 with a growing list of demands for season tickets.

CHAMPIONS LEAGUE DRAW

GROUP B
Manchester United (England)
Barcelona (Spain)
Inter Milan (Italy)
Celtic (Scotland)

Barcelona again! Jürgen Klopp just won’t go away, but with this group that might be the least of Pochettino’s problems. Pep Guardiola and a pile of transfer funds make Inter Milan a tough draw, poor Celtic get stuck in a group of death where a single misstep could eliminate the defending champions. Visits from Barcelona and Inter should fill the newly expanded Old Trafford, hopefully the 2022 World Cup doesn’t damage United’s run.

The other English teams involved don’t have it all that much easier, aside from Manchester City in Group A (Zenit, SC Braga, Olympiakos) things are going to be tricky. Liverpool were drawn with RB Leipzig, Lazio, and CSKA Moscow. Tottenham landed with Juventus, Valencia, and Young Boys in a group they could easily advance from. The only other group competing with Group B in terms of difficulty is Group C (Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, AS Monaco, Porto), this is going to be an interesting year.

MATCH OF THE FIRST HALF

Champions League (A) : Barcelona 1 - Manchester United 4

There is a good argument to call the first meeting, a terse 1-0 win at Old Trafford, the game of the first half just based on the level of difficulty injuries created. Enzo Marino was out sick, Edward Wessex had a broken rib, and Pochettino only had one RB left (Álvaro Odriozola). Youngster Bagaudin Arbuzov had to be brought in as an emergency backup, he arrived late to the game because he literally didn’t believe he was being called up. Apparently he thought the whole thing was a prank. Pochettino wasn’t laughing.

The group had already been decided by this point, the only thing driving the excitement of this game was the growing Pochettino-Klopp rivalry. The venue and previous margin of victory also made this game interesting, Barcelona came into this game slight favorites despite an unimpressive 3-0-2 record in the group. If the line was intended to drive betting, it worked, but the prediction couldn’t have been off my much more. It was probably more stunning to see a Klopp coached side fold so quickly and put on a display befitting a team more interested in going home.

Florentino Luís scored at 20’ from a few paces above the arc, and just two minutes later Mason Greenwood opened his PoM campaign when he combined with Jadon Sancho on an ill advised back pass. A Fernandes penalty made it 3-0 just before the half and Klopp’s stares could have burned holes in steel, he looked like he was on the verge of ripping his seat out and throwing it at any Barcelona player stupid enough to get near him.

Júnior Firpo scored at 61’ off a corner, but the Sancho-Greenwood connection struck again with a brilliant through ball that left Marc-André ter Stegen on his knees looking dejected. Every United player finished the game with a rating of 7.0 or higher, with only Firpo managing that threshold for the hosts. Greenwood’s double would propel a 9.2 rating and PoM, who needs Rashford when you have a backup like this? The win was a great way to cap off an abbreviated first half, maybe Barcelona’s players were thinking about Dubai more than the game?


TRIPPING OUT OF THE GATE

2022 was a bad year for England. A short first half of the season would lead into a sweltering World Cup in Qatar where temperatures still managed to peak at 32°C despite moving it to the winter, sadly that was not the worst thing to happen as England lost 3-2 to France in the first knockout round. More salt in the wound came as France advanced to the final and lost to Italy 1-0 to give the Azzurri their 5th title. United players were present and making a name for themselves with a few garnering awards (more on that later) and tiring out their legs for the end of the season.

Before the World Cup even hit Pochettino had his share of problems, the Cityzens and denizens of Anfield were more than delighted with United’s struggles out of the gate. United logged (6) injuries in August, their worst month of the season, which actually turned out to have less impact than injuries in September. David De Gea and Bruno Fernandes would be out for (2) weeks each, both close together, and that was enough for the dream of an Invincible repeat to die. After starting out 3-1-0 with a (46) game unbeaten streak running back to last season the team would fall prey to Wolves in a 3-2 loss that made the two Captains look indispensable. Dani Olmo played well, but Dean Henderson became a goat almost immediately after accounting for the loss against Wolves along with a stunning 1-0 loss to Brighton & Hove Albion. The team rolled right into a 2-2 draw at Inter and it was right about this time that the vitriol among the most impatient United fans started to bubble up with some members of the media quick to jump in. Could two losses really indicate a total collapse?

The first half of the season had two glaring problems, with one threatening their overall season performance. While Pochettino continued his unbeaten streak from the end of last season it also looked like he brought their tendency to give up goals regularly, though this time it wasn’t coming with substantial scoring streaks of their own. Allowing Arsenal (2), Inter (2), Celtic (2), and Wolves (3) to score multiple goals was not something anyone expected of this tough defense. In most cases it didn’t matter because United were scoring freely, but 1-0 wins over tough competition (Liverpool, Manchester City, Barcelona) seemed to indicate that United were feasting on minnows.

The second problem, for United and himself, was Marcus Rashford having an awful start to his season. Through his first (7) starts of the season the young striker only managed (2) goals, with both of them coming on penalties. Rashford went through an extended streak of excellent opportunities, being fed into an opening by Fernandes, only to miss wide or send the shot right into the keeper. Things got much worse for him during the Champions League when he went down against Inter with sprained knee ligaments in October, the injury would cost him (6) weeks and a spot on England’s World Cup squad. Rashford was absolutely heartbroken, on a personal level the injury was devastating, and it didn’t help his mood at all to see Mason Greenwood going on a tear. In that (7) game span Greenwood would score (5) in (4) games, too small of a sample size to really draw any conclusions but it wasn’t helping Rashford’s case. The injury came close enough to the World Cup break that Pochettino wouldn’t need to start youngster Rudie Eymbert at all, Greenwood would need to handle the load until the break.

There was a bit of 1st World Problems in United’s struggles, they went right back to winning when De Gea and Fernandes returned (highlighting how important they are) and did their best to take 1st in the Champions League group. A draw with Inter turned out to be the worst thing that happened in the group, . After everything was said and done, with players heading off to a World Cup in a furnace, United were top of the league and still in a position to keep their silverware at home.



FIRST HALF AWARDS & PLAUDITS

The shortened first half didn’t leave much room to impress, but United players did enough to gain some attention during the World Cup to take home a bit of silverware. The bigger story was someone coming up short on some major silverware, three times to be exact, as Bruno Fernandes found himself coming up just a hair below Kylian Mbappé on the awards circuit. Fernandes came in 2nd in the Ballon d’Or (won by Mbappé), FIFA Best Player (won by Eden Hazard), and FIFPro Best Player (won by Mbappé) to extend the quality of his signing. Paul Pogba leaving was disappointing, but fans have moved on pretty quickly and the team is clearly Fernandes’ now.


World Cup Golden Boot : Victor Tsygankov (Ukraine) - (4) goals, (1) assist
FIFA Best U21 : Mason Greenwood
FIFA GK : David De Gea
European Golden Boy : Ryan Gravenberch
Serbian FA Player Of The Year : Sergej Milinkovic-Savic



Eva and her crew of highly trained physios were hard at work during the first half of the season, in some cases she had to give daily updates on certain injuries. As the losses mounted up De Gea’s leg became the center of attention in Manchester thanks to a few losses under Dean Henderson. August and September were in pissing contests to see which month could ruin United’s season more, both took turns creating substantial holes in the squad.

August saw Jean-Clair Todibo open his United career by pulling a hamstring in training (9 days), and then Dayot Upamecano came down with a bad case of food poisoning that forced him to miss the Arsenal match and kept him out a full week. Victor Tsygankov pulled his calf during the UEFA Super Cup and had to sit out for (3) weeks and then Sergej Milinkovic-Savic joined him with a twisted knee. Marcus Rashford bruised his knee against Wolves, a minor injury, and then Ousmane Dembélé reasserted himself as the injury King and got knocked out for (3) weeks with a pulled calf. Losing Dembélé really stung as both RW were now out, an early positional crisis is not a good way to defend your title.

September was just as bad with the previously mentioned injury to De Gea happening on international duty with Spain, losing him for (2) weeks was a disaster. The Injury Gods were cruel as Enzo Marino missed a week with the flu, then twisted his ankle against Newcastle United (1 week) and Edward Wessex broke a rib (3 weeks) while filling in for him during the game. All of that seemed bad enough, but then Bruno Fernandes damaged his foot against Manchester City and sat out for (2) weeks.

Pochettino was feeling the heat with De Gea and Fernandes out at the same time, but things got really heartbreaking as the season went into October. With the World Cup bearing down on everyone and a genuine feeling of excitement and hope around England’s chances in the tournament, Marcus Rashford would sprain ligaments in his right knee against Inter and be ruled out for (6) weeks. The injury would essentially rule him out of the World Cup, at best he could make the trip as a sub with an injury concern hanging over his head. Rashford handled it well, but he was clearly saddened by the timing and the impact on his international career. Enzo Marino would play in the World Cup, but he would not come back at 100% after an ankle injury would knock him out for (4) weeks. The only upside of the poorly timed World Cup would be a long stretch of time for injuries to heal and players who didn’t head for Qatar to rest, the insane fixture list in the second half would require as much rest as possible.


Rashford is missing out on a potential Golden Generation.
Could be quite a battle with Liverpool this season. That would make things interesting!
League battle will be an interesting one. Looking forward to see how it unfolds.

2022-23 MID SEASON TRANSFER WINDOW : IF IT AIN’T BROKE

Possibly the most stress free transfer window in United’s history, certainly Mauricio Pochettino’s, as the club did almost nothing. Despite injuries here and there, thanks to the poorest conceived World Cup of all time, everyone was in the same boat so there wasn’t much need to buy their way out of trouble. Right after the World Cup is a notoriously bad time to buy players, with prices soaring based on a small sample size, so Pochettino and Luís Campos’ decision to do nothing looks like a good financial move.

Senior / Major Transfers (Out)
None

Senior Transfers (In)
None

Final Transfer List (Impact Signings)
Leonardo Radamés (GK, Benfica - Brazil) £3.2M
Matheus Felipe Marinho (CAM, Santos - Brazil) £2.8M
Wilsinho (CM, Fluminense - Brazil) £625K

United’s scouts hit on a few Brazilians with EU citizenship, with the best one playing professionally in Brazil. Matheus Felipe Marinho came highly regarded and earned the exaggerated moniker of Fernandinho (as in Bruno Fernandes) among United’s scouting team, he likely doesn’t have the ceiling of Fernandes but he has the kind of speed and passing skill / vision Pochettino likes in an attacking midfielder.

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