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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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Very good negotiation work to get so much for all those players! P.s. aren't Boavista and Porto from Portugal instead of Brazil? Or does the nation behind the club indicate the player's nationality?
2020-06-13 10:56#274021 Zed : Very good negotiation work to get so much for all those players! P.s. aren't Boavista and Porto from Portugal instead of Brazil? Or does the nation behind the club indicate the player's nationality?

Player's nationality. Must be Portuguese / Brazilian because they count as EU Nationals.
2020-06-12 01:03#273910 ScottT : Some of those sales are ridiculous. You certainly pushed clubs all the way in terms of getting the most for them.

I definitely don't know how it works, the best I can tell is the earlier you offer players for sale the better. Most of the big offers come before or right as the window opens. Why PSG wanted to drop 80M for Tsygankov is beyond me, but it isn't my place to stop them.
I appreciate your posts and like your style but must dis-agree with your transfer market activities.

1. United need a proven goal scorer up-front. At least 15-20 goals a season.
2. Rashford is better played as an AML who cuts in (Inside Forward)
3. Greenwood is not mature enough to play week-in, week-out as a center forward for the first season.
4. United need 2 forwards in reality as they have 0 at the moment when you start the game.
5. Assuming you started to play when the FM2020 was first released, then you can get Erling Haaland for cheap money and he will score you 30 goals+ per season.
6. Don't sell Matic because his experience is so helpful when he runs-down his 2 year contract. I even thought about using the 1-yr-extension clause in his contract.
7. When you buy a lot of foreign players early in the game, the BREXIT rules will come to bite you.

Cheers - H e n d y

2023-24 FIRST HALF : RAISE THE DRAGON BANNER

If anyone thought Mauricio Pochettino was going to rest on his laurels and cruise through this season, they were dead wrong. Winning the Champions League and Premier League has only put more pressure on the team to perform and Pochettino was focused like a laser on marginal improvements. Even with a number of very good players leaving there is a belief within the club that the team will be even better, faster, and brutal to score against.

CHAMPIONS LEAGUE DRAW

GROUP A
Manchester United (England)
RB Leipzig (Germany)
Shakhtar Donetsk (Russia)
Olympiakos (Greece)

Pochettino had a big smile for the Champions League draw, not just because they landed the easiest group but also because the competition was thrown into some really difficult ones. After the season United had last year they are solid favorites to repeat and breeze through their group. RB Leipzig won’t just lay down and the travel to Shakhtar Donetsk will probably be the worst part of facing them. Just about all of the other groups are absolute brutality, getting an easy group this year looks like a major boost. Spurs (PSG, Vitesse, Young Boys), Arsenal (RB Salzburg, Zenit, Legia Warszawa), and Liverpool (Lyon, Porto, Fenerbahçe) all get groups they can win or advance from, but Chelsea (Juventus, Valencia, Bayer 04 Leverkusen) were not so lucky. Chelsea fans certainly felt hard done, but they are lucky to have avoided Group B (Barcelona, Borussia Dortmund, AC Milan, Benfica), Group D (Real Madrid, Lazio, Ajax, Dynamo Kyiv), or Group G (Atlético Madrid, Bayern Munich, Napoli, Celtic). Is it possible to have three groups of death?

MATCH(ES) OF THE FIRST HALF

Premier League (A) : Brentford 2 - Manchester United 4


This game was notable for good and bad reasons. It was good to see Ole Gunnar Solskjaer back in the Premier League, this time managing Brentford, and the healthy crowd of away fans gave him a warm welcome. The bad reason was giving up (2) goals to a Brentford side that was more likely to lose 10-0 than score against a team utterly destroying everyone they played. For (59) shining minutes it was looking like Solskjaer was going to get one over on his old team.

Brentford struck first just 4’ into the game when youngster Ashley Beasant scored on an atrocious error by David De Gea. De Gea would bring the ball up to the top of the box and attempt a pass to Florentino Luís in the midfield, but Beasant slipped in and snagged the ball at a near sprint. With Dayot Upamecano and Jean-Clair Todibo set up wide and De Gea nearly at the arc Beasant had an open goal and didn’t miss. They would give back that miracle with a penalty, and then Mason Greenwood would make it 2-1 at 26’ in a game much more frenetic than anyone could have predicted. When Ethan Pinnock headed in a corner to pull things even it was the first time all season that United had allowed more than (1) goal.

Brentford played tough in the second half, Solskjaer’s switch to a 4-1-2-3 for this game was paying off, but it was getting clearer that United were taking command. The balance of possession was rapidly tipping to United and when Greenwood scored again at 59’ things collapsed for the hosts. Ousmane Dembélé would make it 4-2 in stoppage time and Pochettino would escape with yet another win my more than (1) goal.

Premier League (A) : Arsenal 1 - Manchester United 1


Of course, it had to be Arsenal, and in the most petty way possible this game was a true delight for Gooners all over. After becoming the New Invincibles in the 2021-22 season it was starting to look like Pochettino was going to improve on that record of invincibility with a (38) win season. The weekly beatings of everyone, in the Premier League and the Champions League, made a perfect season seem possible if not likely. Unai Emery, who has managed to weather the storm at Arsenal since winning the league in 2019-20, was not particularly perturbed by the prospect of losing.

“I like our chances, they are a good side but we are at home. We are confident, nobody is going to lay down for them” said Emery prior to the game. He survived finishing 6th just two years after winning the league, he could manage this game.

Arsenal came out in a 5-3-2 with an attempt to halt United’s usual dominance on the wings. Kieran Tierney and Dani Carvajal would be tasked with slowing down Jorge and Álvaro Odriozola along with making it hard to connect with Jadon Sancho and Ousmane Dembélé. The addition of (3) midfielders also helped clog things up and once Arsenal got the ball they were good at keeping it, in a rare occurrence Arsenal were able to out-possess United and skirt some of their aggressive press in the process. Emery also got a boost just after the half when Bruno Fernandes injured his foot when Adrien Rabiot stepped on it, 50’ in an Pochettino was replacing his offensive engine with Andrès Landman.

In a deliciously ironic reversal of fortunes Sergej Milinkovic-Savic would finally put the game in United’s hands with an 89’ goal that appeared to put the game away. As stoppage time ticked down and United did their best to salt the game away Suso found an opening to ruin United’s day. Tierney snagged a bad throw in and passed it on to Joe Willock who booted it down the middle of the field for a Route One special that found Suso a few solid strides beyond the United back line. No flags went up, though Pochettino and his staff could be seen charging the technical area in protest, and Suso managed to slip the ball by with De Gea just barely getting a finger on it. It’s hard to feel bad about an 18-1-0 record, but the Gunners were celebrating like they had just won the league again.

ARSENAL GET THE LAST LAUGH

Manchester United punched the world in the face right out of the gate and never stopped punching. Maybe someone said something bad about Pochettino’s mother, maybe the squad just wanted to light the world on fire, everyone who set foot on the field felt the wrath of United for a full 90’ on a weekly basis. It wasn’t just the wins, it was the regular 6-0 beatings that often looked like they could get worse at the drop of a hat.

Rolling into December 20th, against Arsenal, United were riding a (30) game win streak and an (84) game unbeaten run. Fueling that win streak during the first half were (84) league goals to only (6) allowed, doesn’t take much to see that is a great way to beat everyone. United walked into the season as heavy favorites and by the Arsenal fixture most outlets had already crowned United winners, there was a lot more talk about who would finish 2-4 than who could catch United. The draw with Arsenal would snap that win streak on the last game of the first half, the media made a bigger deal of it than United as Pochettino was still focused on finishing out the season.


F*cking Arsenal...

Part of the problem for the league was that everyone busted their nut last year and financial austerity appeared to be in vogue. Liverpool, who were in an outright arms race with the biggest clubs in the world, curled up into a ball and only spent £45M on Mohamed Ihatteran from PSV. United were reportedly interested in the Dutch international, but just didn’t have a spot for him at the asking price (which was rumored to be upwards of £75M at one point). PSV lost out on that one, but the fact that Liverpool’s answer to being crushed by the greatest English team of all time was to buy one player didn’t put Thomas Tuchel in a good place. In Tuchel’s case, the club left him in a position to fail and they sacked him in November and replaced him with Schalke’s Andrey Tokhonov. Nobody wanted to invest the necessary funds to go toe to toe with the beast Pochettino has created, the first half of this season was an excellent example why.

On a personal level the team was incredibly focused on repeating, very few problems bubbled up between players and Pochettino with a shocking lack of new contract demands. The most notable drama was Renato Leonidas, an English citizen, exercising his dual-citizenship by selecting Seleção over the Three Lions. Who knew a bench LB could generate so much outrage among English fans, he got all the heat for it while Gareth Southgate managed to escape unscathed. The furor probably died down once people started to notice the incredible season Jadon Sancho was having. Sancho must have gone back and watched Athony Martial’s starts from last year because he has absolutely mastered the back post, the connection between Dembélé and Odriozola has turned into (16) goals and a starting spot for England.



FIRST HALF AWARDS & PLAUDITS

It finally happened, Manchester United’s first Ballon d’Or winner since Ronaldo in 2008 is Bruno Fernandes. Maybe it was appropriate that it would be a Portuguese player as Fernandes takes over the international side, this time United’s winner is likely to stay around for a while. Fernandes put together one amazing first half, (14) goals and (22) assists with 8.36 rating, and when taken together with the last half of last year it couldn’t be anyone but him. Scoring (17) goals with (33) assists and an 8.16 rating is a great way to bring home the biggest individual award possible. The Ronaldo-Messi monopoly on the award was finally broken in 2022, and Kylian Mbappé isn’t going anywhere, he isn’t a lock as the best player in the world right now so Fernandes is going to need to work hard to keep the trophy. He will see competition from his own roster as Sancho finished 3rd in the voting behind Mbappé, maybe United can keep the trophy in Manchester even if Fernandes doesn’t win again.


FIFA Ballon d’Or : Bruno Fernandes
FIFA Best Player : Bruno Fernandes
FIFPro Player Of The Year : Bruno Fernandes
FIFA U21 Player Of The Year : Albin Elmander - (17) goals, 8.10 rating
FIFA GK Of The Year : David De Gea
European Golden Boy : Albin Elmander
Serbian FA Player Of The Year : Sergej Milinkovic-Savic


No surprises here, a first half full of wins came with very few serious injuries. The team went all the way into November before someone went down with an injury for more than a few days and it turned out to be an annoying one for Pochettino. Edward Wessex would sprain his ankle on U21 England duty in a game against Denmark, the injury would keep him out for (4) weeks and put some pressure on Pochettino to keep his remaining RB healthy. The right side of the field had more issues when Ousmane Kanté pulled his thigh in December, knocking him out for a week and forcing him to miss the Carabao Cup Quarterfinal against Watford. The final injury of the first half seemed big, but the timing ended up being perfect, Bruno Fernandes would miss (2) weeks after hurting his foot against Arsenal. The January break worked out in his favor and he didn’t miss a scheduled start, he had plenty of time to enjoy his Ballon d’Or win.
2020-06-17 19:44#274420 H e n d y : I appreciate your posts and like your style but must dis-agree with your transfer market activities.

1. United need a proven goal scorer up-front. At least 15-20 goals a season.
2. Rashford is better played as an AML who cuts in (Inside Forward)
3. Greenwood is not mature enough to play week-in, week-out as a center forward for the first season.
4. United need 2 forwards in reality as they have 0 at the moment when you start the game.
5. Assuming you started to play when the FM2020 was first released, then you can get Erling Haaland for cheap money and he will score you 30 goals+ per season.
6. Don't sell Matic because his experience is so helpful when he runs-down his 2 year contract. I even thought about using the 1-yr-extension clause in his contract.
7. When you buy a lot of foreign players early in the game, the BREXIT rules will come to bite you.

Cheers - H e n d y

2 - Due to 1 & 4 I kept Rashford at CF, I also wanted to keep Martial on the wing.
3 - He was a cup CF until he was ready to start.
4 - Rashford / Greenwood were good enough in the tactic I use, I don't depend on CF goals.
5 - I started this save before he blew up and my scouts never identified him.
6 - He didn't fit my tactic that well, I ended up getting much better players.
7 - Brexit didn't happen in this save.
Your dominance knows no bounds. You're swatting away teams with absolute ease. Two standouts to emphasise that come in the Community Shield and the Super Cup against Liverpool and Chelsea. Easy as you like.

Ole was certainly out for revenge in the Brentford game and Arsenal will be extremely smug that they prevented you from maintaining a flawless record. It'll be interesting to see who the team to end the unbeaten record will be!

The accolades continue to roll in. It truly is a sight to behold. Glad to see Bruno claim the Ballon D'or, especially.

MID SEASON TRANSFER WINDOW : IN BRUGES (AND GENK)

With literally £1B in transfer funds available Mauricio Pochettino has decided to finally crack open the checkbook on some high priced youth prospects. The team continues to sit on its current senior squad, with no major injuries and plenty of U-23 players who can fill in for a game or two; it just doesn’t make sense to think short term. The club’s long term outlook couldn’t be rosier.

Senior / Major Transfers (Out)
None

Senior Transfers (In)
None

Final Transfer List (Impact Signings)
Lancaster French (LB, Everton - England) £18.5M
Grégory Charlier (LB, KRC Genk - Belgium) £11M
Mathijs Naessens (CF, Club Brugge - Belgium) £10.5M
Luca Ferreux (CAM, KRC Genk - Belgium) £8.75M
Jakub Owczarek (RB, Borussia Mönchengladbach - Germany) £4.2M
Stéphane Bertrand (LB, Standard Liege - Belgium) £3.9M
Leon Russell (CB, Derby County - England) £500K
Basil York (CB, West Brom - England) £475K
Guychel Kasongo (LW, Club Brugge - DR Congo) £350K
Régis Kasongo (LW, Club Brugge - DR Congo) £350K
Imre Varga (CM, Szeged 2011 - Hungary) £300K
Chadwick Gray (CB, New Saints - England) £250K
Christ Ebara (CM, Étoile FC - Congo) £150K
Garcia Loussoukou (RB, Paris FC - Congo) £170K

This is one of the most exciting signing periods in years as Luís Campos finally breaks the bank for a youth prospect with ‘unlimited’ potential. Lancaster French is being hailed as the best English youth player since Jude Bellingham, the fact that he has already played for Everton’s senior squad at 16-years old just continues to add helium to his evaluation. He should have commanded a higher fee, with some comparable youth being hit with £30-50M price tags, but with a year left on his current Everton contract and an £18.5M release clause he goes somewhat cheaply to United. French is from Manchester so the narrative behind his transfer is just too good, and he is likely to be given a shot at the senior squad next season with a loan move (rumored to be back at Everton) a more likely option.

The other story behind this window is pretty obvious as United just outright raided some of Belgium’s best teams. Hard to say that they stole them with some of the prices paid, but a run through the Belgian teams found a number of real gems with Club Brugge getting hit the hardest. The signings that really jump out are the Kasongo twins, both were born in DR Congo and moved to Belgium before signing for Club Brugge. Régisis the more talented of the twins but Guychel doesn’t seem that far off, it’s too bad they both play LW so they can’t be on the field at the same time.
Some good money spent on some of these young players. I suspect it won't be too long before you reap the rewards.
2020-06-17 20:47#274423 OohAhCantona :
2020-06-17 19:44#274420 H e n d y : I appreciate your posts and like your style but must dis-agree with your transfer market activities.

1. United need a proven goal scorer up-front. At least 15-20 goals a season.
2. Rashford is better played as an AML who cuts in (Inside Forward)
3. Greenwood is not mature enough to play week-in, week-out as a center forward for the first season.
4. United need 2 forwards in reality as they have 0 at the moment when you start the game.
5. Assuming you started to play when the FM2020 was first released, then you can get Erling Haaland for cheap money and he will score you 30 goals+ per season.
6. Don't sell Matic because his experience is so helpful when he runs-down his 2 year contract. I even thought about using the 1-yr-extension clause in his contract.
7. When you buy a lot of foreign players early in the game, the BREXIT rules will come to bite you.

Cheers - H e n d y

2 - Due to 1 & 4 I kept Rashford at CF, I also wanted to keep Martial on the wing.
3 - He was a cup CF until he was ready to start.
4 - Rashford / Greenwood were good enough in the tactic I use, I don't depend on CF goals.
5 - I started this save before he blew up and my scouts never identified him.
6 - He didn't fit my tactic that well, I ended up getting much better players.
7 - Brexit didn't happen in this save.

Sorry for my late reply.
You make some interesting points:

4 - Nobody 'depends' on the CF but a great CF makes a big positive difference. Also it sounds like you played with a front three (x2 wingers AMR, AML and an CF or AF). That is a standard way of playing with goals expected from the x2 wingers.

5 - What???..im sorry but Erling Haaland was and still is the hottest player in football right now, you don't need a scout for that, just pick up a newspaper and yes, in real life United want him !! He has been a hot player for the last aprrox. 6-8 months !!!!

7 - How can Brexit not happen in your save? ...I had the BETA pre-release version which i then was able to continue playing .....which version do you play??

2023-24 SECOND HALF : NOT SO SPURSY (OR IS IT?)

That draw to Arsenal really lit a fire under Mauricio Pochettino, it was a great example of how easily a poor performance can lead to defeat (or disappointment) and how much closer other teams are to United. The results can fool you, so Pochettino needs to work hard to keep his team focused no matter who they face, be it Brentford or Arsenal.

MATCH(ES) OF THE SECOND HALF

Champions League (H) : Manchester United 4(4) - PSG 0(0)


Perhaps the first leg of this matchup was more notable due to the run United were on. Being held 0-0 at Parc des Princes with Kylian Mbappé out seems like Pochettino failed to capitalize on a “weakened” opponent. The French champions have turned into a dumping ground for some serious talent along with a ton of former United players. Neymar (£195M), Paul Pogba (£110M), Raheem Sterling (£107M), Virgil van Dijk (£105M), Ryan Gravenberch (£101M), Victor Tsygankov (£80M), Romelu Lukaku (£79M), and Christian Eriksen (Free) make for a very talented and very expensive lineup even without Mbappé. The French side played United very tightly, putting up a pretty even game aside from losing the possession battle 46-54.

With Mbappé back and Ernesto Valverde sticking to a 4-1-2-3 there was a lot of hope that Old Trafford wouldn’t do much to help United. Much to the surprise of everyone PSG wilted quickly, helped along by a Florentino Luís at just 7’ into the game. The PSG that played so well in Paris must have stayed in Paris as they couldn’t muster much of an attack and finished the day barely registering as a challenge. An assertive and lightning quick United came out swinging (kicking?) and jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the first half thanks to a Mason Greenwood double. Valverde didn’t have an answer and PSG had to sit through a dull second half as they waited to go home.

Pochettino spent the time between legs keeping Dayot Upamecano and Jean-Clair Todibo updated on the French media’s take on Mbappé’s absence. According to inside reports he would place issues of L’Equipe in their locker along with sending them articles, tweets, and posts on instagram in an attempt to motivate them. It must have worked because Mbappé was a non-factor in this game, he didn’t even take a single shot and had Upamecano or Todibo all over him if he even tried to touch the ball. The disappearance of Mbappé would distract from Jorge’s defensive master class outside of player ratings, Jorge finished with (14) tackles won (100%) and (3) key tackles to earn the PoM with an 8.9 rating. Not bad for someone that didn’t score a goal or register an assist in a 4-0 game. The win would extend United’s unbeaten streak to (102) games in all competitions and earn them a date with Benfica in the next round.

Champions League (N) : Tottenham 0 - Manchester United 3


The Nuevo Mestalla in Valencia would host an all England final, Spurs and manager Marcelo Bielsa would need to avoid losing their second final to a member of England’s most notable rivalry. Bielsa would have plenty of motivation to beat his fellow Argentine with this game his third in a row against Manchester United. The final game of the league season (3-0) and the FA Cup Final (1-0) would leave a sour taste in his mouth after an incredible season for Spurs, the odds were not in their favor as their (3) previous outing this year ended 6-1 in United’s favor.

As many media outlets predicted, the game went south really fast for Spurs when Jadon Sancho made it 1-0 after only 2’. Ousmane Dembélé would make it to the end line and send a ball across the box to find Sancho camped out at the back post, a goal he’s scored so many times before this season and didn’t hesitate to repeat. Mason Greenwood scored at 32’ in a bittersweet sequence that saw Dembélé go down injured, the scene of United celebrating a goal while Dembélé lay on the ground clutching his calf wasn’t one Pochettino would have wanted. The nail in Spurs’ coffin would come at 42’ from Jorge through a lovely long ball from Dembélé’s replacement Ousmane Kanté. Kanté would cut inside near midfield and loft a ball to the far left corner of the box where Jorge was unmarked and well onside thanks to Davinson Sánchez being caught way too deep. Jorge would take the shot out of the air and absolutely hammer it into the goal from distance, a cherry on top of what would turn out to be stellar game. Jorge wouldn’t last much longer as he would suffer a foot injury in stoppage time and get taken off by a team of physios.


Bielsa being Bielsa.

The 3-0 deficit seemed to be enough to kill of Tottenham’s spirit, the second half was more notable for Bielsa looking like he was going to murder his players than anything else. Sancho would score again at 67’ but VAR would be used to determine he was offsides, Pochettino disagreed but up 3-0 he decided not to make too much of it. The final whistle sealed United’s Champions League threepeat and put the final touches on a sextuple that rarely seemed in doubt. Jorge would be honored with the PoM award in a bizarre yet deserved kind of way, his 8.7 rated well above anyone else even though he only played half a game. His goal helped, but much like the PSG game his defensive performance was incredible.

STILL KINGS OF EUROPE

The ride to the Champions League title would be odd for United as Pochettino needed to navigate a Brutal-Easy-Hard-Average draw. Their reward for winning their group would be a date with PSG that would open at Parc des Princes, then Benfica, then Bayern Munich before facing Tottenham in the final. It was a very un-Spursy run for Bielsa which culminated in the Champions League final defeat (or does that make it Spursy?), after taking over for Pochettino in the 2020-21 season they won the 2021 Europa League and Carabao Cup while improving in the league. Finishing 6th, 5th, 4th, 3rd and then 6th this year along with the FA Cup & Champions League final pointed to good things for Tottenham outside of running into the United buzzsaw. It didn’t help that Tottenham needed to beat United in that final game to qualify for the Champions League next year, the loss in the final made it that much worse.

The secret to United’s success wasn’t just scoring a ton of goals, their defense has been elevated to something that should be considered one of the best of all time. United only conceded in (12) games across all competitions, their (13) allowed is rather stunning considering the only team to score more than (1) was Brentford. The combinations of players in the 1st and second squad have proven exceedingly difficult to deal with, Upamecano-Todibo has become the best central defender pair in the world and they make life so much easier for Florentino Luís and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic. Add in the stellar defensive play of Jorge on the outside and it’s no secret why they concede so rarely.

It’s almost too hard to point out a single factor that helped United dominate this year other than how many incredible performances Pochettino managed to coax out of his squad. In the Premier League it was hard for non-United players to break into the top tier of important statistical categories. Mason Greenwood would take home the scoring title with (27), Bruno Fernandes and Jadon Sancho would finish 2nd & 3rd. Fernandes, Milinkovic-Savic, and Todibo would own average rating while Fernandes and Florentino Luís would head up assists.


A comprehensive offensive (166 goals) and defensive (7 goals) performance would fuel another Invincible year with no end in sight. The rest of the world is going to need to work hard to slow down the machine Pochettino has built, after this year United will remain favorites to win the Premier and Champions Leagues again. Even with the league’s most powerful teams (Manchester City, Liverpool, Arsenal, Chelsea) reestablishing themselves at the top of the table their path to unseating United is unclear.



Eva Carneiro had an easy second half with very few long term injuries and a small number of minor ones. Ousmane Kanté (groin pull) and King Holland (stomach flu) would miss a week early in the year before Physio Office King Ousmane Dembélé would miss (4) weeks with a groin strain of his own. Groin strains were in style as Venâncio would miss (4) weeks in March, he would be joined by Luís Nazário for (3) weeks after pulling his calf. Nazário’s injury would open the door for Marco Overmars to come up for a bit, but he went right back to the U-23 side when Nazário was better. April would see King Holland sprain his ankle in the Carabao Cup semifinal and be ruled out for (3) weeks.

June would bring the most frustrating injury of the half when Jorge would twist his ankle and be ruled out for (3) weeks including the Champions League final. Jorge suffered a slight knee injury in February on the same leg, so Pochettino wasn’t willing to push things just so Jorge could play in the final.
An irresistible force that no doubt will be determined more than ever to go the entire season without dropping a single point in the league. It's going to happen this time.

2023-24 YOUTH INTAKE & U-23/U-18 PERFORMANCE

Finally United can trumpet a good crop of signings with a few players that could be around the system for quite a while. The current swelling of talent is actually starting to be an issue as United’s Loan Manager works overtime trying to find landing places for almost half of their youth members, a major purge may be in the cards. United lead in the development of Premier League players by a wide margin with (41) in the league, mostly on loan, with Chelsea (16) and Liverpool (13) well behind them.

Vincent Delamare (LB - France) : A description of the French international sounds like a broken record. He has tremendous speed, is very good at crossing the ball, and understands the game well. The only drawback is that United’s system is full of players like this and the signing of Lancaster French makes it even harder for him, and the other LB, to break through. Scouts feel he has senior squad regular upside, but there are some aspects of his game he will need to improve to get there. Technical ability and ball handling, outside of running very quickly with the ball, are an issue that he needs to focus on.

Thomas Clarke (GK - England) : The first thing anyone will notice about Clarke is that he’s built like Big Ben, at 6’-8” tall he’s got aerial issues covered. Right now he makes corners and free kicks brutally difficult as his ability to rush out and punch the ball away or snatch it out of the air forces teams to place the ball wide of the net. At such a young age he obviously has years to go, but he has all the physical tools needed to develop into a top GK, it’s rare for someone of his size to be able to move so quickly.

Boyd Charlton (LW - England) : Often compared to a left sided Theo Walcott, that may not be a good thing depending on who you ask. Indeed Walcott’s career path may be what Charlton has in his future, he is also jokingly referred to as an English Arjen Robben. With high pace and acceleration, solid dribbling skills, and a level of confidence in his ability to shoot from outside the box it’s easy to see the Robben comparison. There is a lot of off the ball and teamwork training needed here, he can vanish if he isn’t being fed the ball, and he’s just really good at running down the left and cutting inside to attack. At a youth level he can be devastating, but as he moves up the ladder defenders will be more savvy and it will get harder and harder to just run past everyone.

U-23 : While the senior squad hasn’t suffered all that much the U-23 side could have used the services of Eva Carneiro almost full time. The list of players who missed at least (3) weeks, if not more, was staggering and concerning. Keenan Maynard (Torn back muscle - 6 weeks), David Money-Hayes (Broken toe - 6 weeks), João Bastos (Sprained ankle - 3 weeks), Branko Oblak (Strained hamstring - 3 weeks), Richard May (Ankle injury - 3 weeks), and Flavien Rigal (Sprained ankle - 3 weeks) all fell to the injury bug. All of that sounds bad but it didn’t really slow them down as they would win the U-23 Premier League 2 Division 1, the Leasing.com Trophy, the EPL International Cup (6-1 over Bayer 04 Leverkusen), and the Premier League Cup (4-0 over Brighton & Hove Albion). The team would enjoy a standout season by Marco Overmars who would score (20) goals in the league and Rodrigo Aparecido would impress as a senior squad fill in when Byron Caicedo was on international duty, scoring in each of his (2) starts is a great way to get some attention.

U-18 : More accolades for United’s youngest team as one player rises to the top in a crop of players oozing with talent. An 8-0 win over Spurs would hand them the EPL Cup again, the FA Youth Cup in a 3-1 win over Chelsea, and the U-18 EPL by a solid margin. The team would also go on to win the UEFA Youth League 7-1 over Bayer 04 Leverkusen. CAM Obrendo Kluivert, bought from FC Eindhoven in 2022-23, has really developed into a solid player. He would lead the league with an 8.88 average rating to go with (11) goals and (27) assists during a solid Bruno Fernandes impression. LW Michel Etienne also had a great season with (24) goals and (8) assists, he finished just behind Kluivert with an 8.56 average rating. At worst United have (2) players with a solid shot at making the senior squad in a few years.
Rightly so, the youth sides are absolutely brimming with potential.

2023-24 POSTSEASON : KEEPING THE PERCH

Greatness is starting to become commonplace at Old Trafford as Mauricio Pochettino finishes off yet another legendary season. He could probably walk away right now and be heralded alongside Sir Alex Ferguson as one of the greatest United managers of all time, some recency bias might lead some to argue he is THE greatest. Driving that bias would be a record point total (112) and record wins (37) along with the Premier League taking over the top spot of the European club rankings with United holding the #1 ranking. The recent stadium expansion and record haul of silverware helped United set a new average attendance record of 89,621. It’s hard to expect much better, but things don’t look to be slowing down.


Is a knighthood in order?

All the winning also helped bring in more commercial sponsorships, as if United needed more, (12) new deals were struck to add £14.5M a year to the coffers. They are going to need the money as the youth facilities were downgraded thanks to a number of other teams finishing their upgrades, ownership was quick to approve additional upgrades to bring the club back to a state of the art training facility. There will not be a new stadium in the immediate future as the club decided to kick the can down the road, Pochettino will not keep pushing to get this done as the club continues to fall behind other clubs in everything aside from capacity.

Pochettino is flying high, but there are already rumors swirling around a renewed rivalry and a possible challenger to the crown. Jürgen Klopp stepped down at Barcelona following a bad run of results at the end of the season, there were numerous reports about issued between the manager and the board as the team failed to win the Champions League and struggled domestically. Barcelona would finish 4th in La Liga, lose in the Copa del Rey final, and get knocked out of the Europa League semi final by RB Leipzig. Klopp is the hottest manager on the market and most believe he will make a return to the Premier League, United fans are hoping he doesn’t return to Liverpool for obvious reasons.

SECOND HALF AWARDS & PLAUDITS

Bruno Fernandes would finish off his Ballon d’Or winning season with even more accolades. Setting a record average rating (8.49) to beat his old record (8.21) and setting a Premier League record with (26) assists was a great way for him to cap off the best year of his career. Fernandes would fall just short of the Premier League scoring title with (23), but that doesn’t take anything away from his goal/assist total which probably gives him a leg up on the Ballon d’Or next year. He would fall behind Danny Ginger for PoM awards as the youngster set a new team record with (14) in all competitions, that Ballon d’Or trophy might not be as safe as Fernandes thinks.


Premier League Team of the Year


Champions League Team of the Year

Despite the long list of awards United players would fall a hair short on a few of them. David De Gea would lose out to Ederson in the Golden Glove voting and Mason Greenwood would get screwed over for the Champions League Golden Boot. The English media went into a frenzy when Marcus Rashford was presented with the award after scoring (8) for AC Milan, the same total as Greenwood but with no assists to Greenwood’s (2). For whatever reasons UEFA decided Rashford was more deserving, but Greenwood didn’t have anything to say about it aside from congratulating Rashford.

Manager Of The Year : Mauricio Pochettino
Premier League Top Scorer : Mason Greenwood - (27) goals
Premier League Player Of The Year : Bruno Fernandes
Young Premier League Player Of The Year : Jean-Clair Todibo (11 goals, 8.18 rating)
Best European Player : Bruno Fernandes
Bundesliga Player Of The Year : Rudie Eymbert (Borussia Dortmund Loan)
Bundesliga Top Scorer : Rudie Eymbert - (19) goals, (8) assists
Champions League Best GK : David De Gea
Champions League Best Defender : Álvaro Odriozola
Champions League Best Forward : Mason Greenwood

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