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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
Another fantastic season for many individually. A return to Anfield for Klopp would be intriguing! I don't think they would be a match for this United side though.

2024-25 : FOUR CHEERS FOR UNITED!

Mauricio Pochettino isn’t raising a “Mission Accomplished” banner just yet, but it’s hard to argue that glory has not been restored. Manchester United have won (4) straight Champions League titles, pushing their total to (7) with the possibility of more to come, so passing Liverpool is suddenly very realistic and would solidify United as the greatest club in England with no end in sight. The current mandate for Pochettino is to put more distance between United and Liverpool in the league while passing them in the Champions League, with the organization Ma Huateng has built along with the progress made by Luís Campos it’s looking like the success of the club could outlast Pochettino. A repeat of the post-Ferguson era isn’t likely, at least not immediately following an unlikely departure by Pochettino.


On top of the world.

Pochettino’s biggest issue this season will be the pressure to stay on top while going through some roster adjustments. The team has effectively transitioned from spending tens of millions on new senior squad players to bringing up youth players, but the current roster structure along with the youth system is starting to get expensive. Ownership is looking to cut expenses so that player sales aren’t driving profits, after all the idea is to build a roster that can stay together for 5-10 years and maintain a dynasty.
You've got to fancy Poch's chances at doing whatever the board want. He hasn't let them down at all so far.

2024-25 ROSTER & TACTICS

A massive drive to cut payroll combined with a sustained transfer attack from rivals has caused roster upheaval, but Mauricio Pochettino is set to handle it. There is quite a bit of turmoil at the back, but with an attack that has become the best in the world there is room for a weaker defense.

The team really found it’s identity on the outside last season as United’s wingers started scoring heavily. The connection between wingers and the wing backs on the opposite side of the field became critical, there may be an issue there with some changes at the back but the attack should continue to be nearly unstoppable.


Goalkeepers
David De Gea (33) continues to be one of the most solid GK options in the world. Even if he’s losing a step nobody can tell because United’s defense keeps him from facing very many shots, there have been games where he could have been asleep on the ground and the opposition wouldn’t have scored because they weren’t allowed to shoot. If there is any danger of him being sold it’s because of his £17.5M salary (highest on the team) and lack of work in most games, unlike other players ownership (Ma Huatend specifically) have publicly stated their support for De Gea to retire a Red Devil. Owen Flowers (20) had one incredible season, hoisting seven trophies in his first year at United and following it up with a starring role at the 2024 Euro, but he’s not going to unseat De Gea. Flowers shows incredible promise, appears to be the future of GK for the England squad, and got to start every game with the second squad last year. If De Gea was to retire Pochettino wouldn’t be that troubled, finding a backup for Flowers would be an issue though.

Best Player : David De Gea (Captain)

Defenders
Pochettino’s central defenders were probably the best in the world last year, allowing just (7) goals in the league were proof of their effectiveness along with the ability to wipe out opposing strikers. Even Kylian Mbappé, who publicly torched United in the Champions League final, was a complete non-factor last season. If you wanted to score on United you needed to do it from a corner or a set piece where chaos was on your side, in open play the pairing of Dayot Upamecano (25) and Jean-Clair Todibo (24) might as well have been a brick wall. Those two aren’t going anywhere for years, but their backup situation changed a bit. Albin Elmander was not happy being stuck in the second squad, his relationship with Pochettino was deteriorating quickly, and then he demanded a £14.5M a year salary and “Important Player” status. Pochettino wasn’t going to play that game so Elmander is gone, bench option David Strange (19) is going to get his chance to stay in the second squad with Venâncio (19) permanently. Strange is strangely one of the best CB for England, one of the thinnest positions for the national team, so there is some drive from the fans to give him a bigger role. Mamadú Candé (19) gets a full time promotion to the bench, but the Portuguese / Angolan won’t hesitate to snatch Strange’s position if he doesn’t learn to swim quickly.

Wing back will be the source of Pochettino’s headaches this year. Things really went pear-shaped when PSG came back for a LB and a series of unfortunate events forced Pochettino’s hand (more on that later). Álvaro Odriozola (28) is still around, and continues to be a leader for this unit, but he’s one of the few players set in his position. Odriozola will be starting RB with King Holland (20) moving from backup RB to starting LB, he’s able to play both but most believe his future is at RB. Pochettino asking him to make that move is a sign of the problems he has at LB and the talent drops off quickly and mostly includes a pile of guys able to play both sides. Renato Leônidas (21) is getting a battlefield promotion to the second squad at LB, he’s probably regretting his decision to declare for Brazil after England hoisted the Euro trophy, he now has a chance to prove he’s better than a bench player (and Lancaster French). French was going to be loaned out, but with the chaos at LB the team decided to keep him on the U-23 roster. Renzo Maatrijk (20) appears to have won the battle for backup RB, he looks promising but he’s going to need to show that promise quickly or Pochettino will move on to one of the bench options. Edward Wessex (20) continues to be a RB/LB bench option, but he was passed over by Maatrijk and might be worried about his future as he’s close to aging out of a free Champions League registration spot. Juan Marín (19), the last remaining work permit embarrassment, had one foot out the door before being granted a work permit after a season on loan at FC København. The Colombian just seems too good to lose, his ability to play all the way up the left (from LB to LW) and RB makes him a great bench option who scouts feel has more upside than Wessex or Leônidas.

Best Player : Dayot Upamecano

Midfielders
If Jürgen Klopp hadn’t stepped down at Barcelona the only midfield loss would have sent United fans into a rage. Barcelona were rumored to be working up a bid for Sergej Milinkovic-Savic all year, Pochettino was sick of answering questions about it, so when it came it wasn’t a surprise. What was a surprise is that Milinkovic-Savic was open to the move and got offended that United didn’t accept. A few offers later Milinkovic-Savic was gone and the Age Of Ginger *cue Ode To Joy* was upon us. Danny Ginger (19) had an INSANE season as a backup and will need to work hard to repeat it as a first choice player. Ginger takes over the BBM role with Florentino Luís (24) staying at DLP. It will take some time for them to form a partnership but the general consensus is that United could have one of the best midfield pairings in the world. Backing them up are two young Frenchmen tabbed for greatness, but at least one of them is going to need Luís to leave after getting passed over by Ginger. Eduardo Camavinga (21) was excellent at BBM but was unheralded in the shadow of Ginger, this year he will get to play with the highly touted Flavien Rigal (18) in the hopes that he can help the youngster make a giant leap. Rigal isn’t currently the “best” option, but ownership wants to see if the £13.5M they paid AS Monaco was a waste of money. Alanzinho (19) remains a bench option, but he’s at risk of being replaced if he ages out of a free registration slot.

More fanfare here as Bruno Fernandes (29) was grossly luminescent in all facets of the game. The Ballon d’Or winner is now a United Legend and might get a statue outside Old Trafford (especially if they get a new stadium), Pochettino is invested in keeping him around as he fuels the hottest attack on the planet. Pedro Durán (21) has only one problem; he isn’t Fernandes. Durán is an exciting attacking midfielder with work to do defensively, but when you win every game 5-0 nobody cares if he can’t tackle very well. There is a camp of scouts that want Andrès Landman (20) to be handed the CAM keys, but at the moment he is too valuable as a CAM/RW bench option to bump off Durán.

Best Player : Bruno Fernandes (Vice Captain, United Legend)


Too low!

Forwards
GET. OUT. OF. THE. WAY. United forwards, especially the wingers, took a substantial leap forward and created a living nightmare for teams across all competitions whether it was the first or second squad. Jadon Sancho (24) was the primary beneficiary of this leap at LW as he became a demonic (devilish?) presence at the back post with Odriozola and Ousmane Dembélé (27) bombing the ball into him. Dembélé continues to be worth his transfer fee at RW, while he doesn’t have the scoring stats of Sancho, his defensive contributions make him just as valuable. He continues to make things easier for Odriozola and regularly makes tackles and interceptions that start a counter attack in the opponent’s third of the field. With Nike plastering his face on everything Dembélé might be one of the most recognizable players in the world and has a chance to attain Legend status. Ousmane Kanté (19) is back as second choice RW and Byron Caicedo (21) continues to fend off anyone who thinks they can handle LW. Caicedo is basically a permanent resident of the roster as the only player who can play LW and RW, Caicedo and Sancho are Pochettino’s only options right now and represent a problem if one of them gets injured.

Mason Greenwood (22) put Marcus Rashford behind him and never looked back, he’s taken over the striker position for England and might be on his own path to Legend status. If he can repeat his Euro performance and win a World Cup he would definitely elevate his career, for now he’s just busy scoring all over the place. This may be a point of drama soon as Luís Nazário (20) started slowly as a back up and made up for it late with hat tricks. Nazário looked unstoppable at times while living up to the “Next Ronaldo” label. He might be a little too much like Ronaldo as Real Madrid, where he was on loan, are circling and continue to feed transfer rumors to the media. Nazário signed a new deal through 2029, so if he’s going to leave it will probably be for a Ronaldo-ish type deal. If either of these guys gets hurt Marco Overmars (18) won’t hesitate to step in again.

Best Player : Ousmane Dembélé
There are some absolutely brilliant players waiting in the wings. That sums up the quality of this team nowadays.

2024-25 KIT RELEASED

The good news for Nike continues rolling in, few will be surprised to know that sales of Bruno Fernandes kits spiked and he is now a centerpiece of their ad campaigns in both Europe and Asia. Being able to sell United and Portugal kits with the current Ballon d’Or winner is like printing money for them. Nike isn’t the only one feeling good as inside reports note that United is set to announce a significant boost in their commercial income.


This year goes for an even more classic design, so classic it predates Manchester United. The third kit is based on a Newton Heath design, the others match the vertical stripe pattern but use a very subtle difference.
Not surprised that Bruno has become the poster-boy. He has been incredible and that is evident in all the awards and accolades he's received.
Absolutely incredible, the only way I can summarize it. I honestly don't know how you've done this.
Poch has absolutely battered teams within England and the rest of Europe, and I really can't see that ending any time soon. A great read, your squad has a ridiculous amount of talent, and they're all at a great age to be dominant for many years to come. Best of luck :)
OohAhCantona's avatar Group OohAhCantona
4 monthsEdited

2024-25 PRESEASON : IT’S COMING HOME!

Mauricio Pochettino was rewarded with a local-ish preseason tour after a long and successful season, the team would head across the North Sea to Berlin. Normally this would have been a little more relaxing, but thanks to some poor planning the team would need to compete with the 2024 Euro being hosted by Germany. Pochettino’s preparation would be in direct competition with the tournament as (25) United players, mostly English and French, would be called up for one of the most anticipated competitions in years. That anticipation would be fueled by the English squad looking like a serious contender if not favorites, the hosts would be looking at great odds but having (7) United players would put some serious helium in England’s chances. Danny Ginger, Mason Greenwood, King Holland, Jadon Sancho, Owen Flowers, Edward Wessex, and Keenan Maynard would all be headliners for England with only Maynard starting on the bench.

Pochettino essentially ended up resting his senior squad and using some of the preseason games as a marketing exercise for U-23 players that need to be sent out on loan or sold. It turned out to be a good move as England not only went deep into the tournament, they would win their first Euro with a resounding 7-0 victory over the hosts. Current and former United players fueled the huge win with Ginger (PoM) and Marcus Rashford scoring twice along with Sancho and Greenwood scoring one of their own. United would also take home a number of awards thanks to Greenwood’s incredible run of form.

Euro Best Player : Mason Greenwood
Euro Golden Boot : Mason Greenwood - (8) goals
Euro Best Young Player : Mason Greenwood


Friendly (A) : Eintracht Braunschweig 0 - Manchester United 2
Friendly (A) : Young Boys 1 - Manchester United 9
Friendly (A) : 1. FC Heidenheim 0 - Manchester United 8
Friendly (H) : Manchester United 6 - Bayern Munich 0
Friendly (A) : Beşiktaş 0 - Manchester United 8

The drama and intrigue didn’t stop after the Euro as players were rushed off to the 2024 Olympics in Paris.More United players starred in the tournament with U-23 players doing for France what the senior squad did for England. France would beat Italy 3-1 in the final with CM Nicolas Rémy, CB Gabriel Platini, CB Amine Bessières, GK Pierre Rémy, LW Michel Étienne, and CF Valentin Martinique all United players. Rémy would impress and take home the Best Player award and the Golden Boot with (8) goals in (6) games.

The only news that could compete with England winning the Euro was Tottenham firing shots at the traditional powers by sacking Marcelo Bielsa and splashing out some cash to hire Jürgen Klopp after he stepped down at Barcelona. Rumors have been swirling around his resignation for some time with most pointing to Real Madrid, Liverpool, or Manchester City as a likely landing spot. ENIC / Daniel Levy have shown more willingness to spend money and the club have been very vocal about continuing the success Bielsa had started, if not for Klopp’s availability he might have kept his job.

Quite the tournament for Greenwood.

SUMMER TRANSFER WINDOW : GETTING REAL (SOCIEDAD) & THE BIG SHORT

Some mixed news in Manchester as Forbes names the club #1 on their list of most valuable clubs in the world, blowing past Real Madrid to become the first £5B valuation in history. Barcelona, Manchester City, and Liverpool are clustered at the top with Manchester United pulling away thanks to a dominating run in the Champions League and at home. This is all good news but it comes with the downside of having to report a massive deficit in profits thanks to dividends. The club’s accounts passed £2B and Ma Huateng’s ownership group withdrew over £800M to dent those numbers. Financially the club is fine thanks to transfer sales, commercial income, and gate receipts, but some data makes it look like the club is hemorrhaging cash.


I pocketed this much...

Part of United’s problem is player wages, the youth system is starting to become a massive drain on payroll. United have (44) players out on loan, with their U-23 side holding (28) players on the roster and the U-18 side claiming (34). This is how the team is able to create a revolving door of Premier League talent, but right now they need to go through a massive sell off to make their youth system more efficient.

Speaking of reducing payroll, the mass exodus from the senior squad started early when Albin Elmander demanded a massive raise up to £16M a year to be on par with Dayot Upamecano and Jean-Clair Todibo. That wasn’t going to happen so he was first to leave with a number of teams very interested in the Swedish international’s services. Jorge was next to go after he demanded a new contract, his defensive performances made him a wanted man, and United weren’t prepared to invest so much in a player who was starting to look expendable with a long line of high-ceiling youth players dying to break into the senior squad. As soon as he was out the door Enzo Marino saw an opportunity for a new contract, making the sale of Jorge a moot point, so he was shipped out as well with a number of teams viewing him as an equal option to Jorge. After that things just went to hell, for some reason this was the summer of big money moves across the market. PSG and Juventus lodged a laughable £40M bid for Sergej Milinkovic-Savic that sent the Serbian into a funk and demanded to be sold, rumor has it that Pochettino agreed to sell him for at least £100M and ended up being surprised that Barcelona were willing to pay it. Atlético Madrid and PSG came after Marino, with PSG the initial team interested in Jorge, before PSG went crazy and offered United £125M for Ousmane Dembélé. The other Ousmane (Kanté) became a hot commodity with Atlético Madrid coming back for United’s other French RW, a bid of £48M from Atlético Madrid and £54M from Chelsea fell on deaf ears as United refused to sell either Ousmane.

The big numbers spread to other teams with Real Madrid flipping Rodrygo to Manchester City for £107M and Lucas Hernández to Arsenal from Bayern Munich for £72M. In total Arsenal spent £158M before the window shut. The Premier League arms race was back on, but United’s massive sell off of high-end youth probably put the defending champs well ahead of the competition.

Senior / Major Transfers (Out)
Sergej Milinkovic-Savic (CM, Barcelona) £100M
Albin Elmander (CB, Spurs) £75M
Jorge (LB, Juventus) £60M
Enzo Marino (RB, PSG) £60M
Cho Jung-Bin (CAM, Real Madrid) £58M
Branko Oblak (RB, Reading) £40M
Maximiliano Zapata (CAM, RB Leipzig) £38.5M
Rudie Eymbert (CF, Borussia Dortmund) £38M
Alexis López (LW, Real Madrid) £34.5M
László Puskás (CB, Reading) £30M
Basil Midwinter (CM, Brighton & Hove Albion) £28M
Didier Atangana (CAM, Juventus) £27.5M
Juan Manuel Sanabria (CM, Valencia) £25M
Kim Ström (CAM, Hertha BSC) £24.5M

Senior Transfers (In)
None

Final Transfer List (Impact Signings)
Benedict Wrexham (CB, Chelsea - England) £20.5M
Souleyman Diallo (RW, PSG - Mali) £19.5M
Rodrigo (CB, AZ Alkmaar - Netherlands) £9.5M
Joseba Intxaurraga (CAM, Real Sociedad - Spain) £7M
Marcel Blaisse (LW, PSV Eindhoven - Netherlands) £3M
Francisco Javier Blanco (CM, Real Sociedad - Spain) £1.5M
José Luis Bilbao (ST, Real Sociedad - Spain) £800K
Francisco (CM, Bayer 04 Leverkusen - Brazil) £350K
Lucas Dalsgaard (GK, Merani - Denmark) £60K

With £1B+ in transfer fees available and a roster full of young talent set to be around for a few years the flow of cash has shifted almost completely to youth players or senior squad breakouts tapped for stardom. Luís Campos usually avoided shopping domestically due to the prices, this class is a great example of how much more you can spend in England, but this time they decided to break the bank for a player who could be truly great. Wrexham has drawn comps to current United defensive stalwart Dayot Upamecano after limited action with Chelsea’s senior squad as a 17-year old. Scouts view his upside as an elite central defender with a floor of a Premier League regular. Chelsea has also learned why United have stood firm on refusing release clauses, Wrexham could easily have gone for more if not for his £20.5M release clause.

The other relative bargain buy was Diallo, thanks to the depth of attacking wingers at PSG (Kylian Mbappé, Neymar, Raheem Sterling, Florian Thauvin, Victor Tsygangov) and their penchant for spending big on players over developing them Diallo was very interested in leaving. While he won’t be handed a starting spot United are willing to nurture the mercurial winger in the hopes he can develop into the world class talent scouts have pegged him as.

Speaking of release clauses, Bayer 04 Leverkusen and Merani are kicking themselves right now. Francisco and Dalsgaard look like solid prospects who were basically stolen thanks to painfully low release clauses. Pochettino will be happy to add quality players for essentially nothing thanks to the amount of transfer fee they have available. One player that didn’t come over for nothing that still shows the power of the release clause is Benedict Wrexham. Wrexham looks like an absolute monster with a ceiling of an international star that easily could have gone for £40M or more but had a release clause that United were more than happy to trigger. Wrexham shows intelligence and tactical understanding beyond his years to go with the kind of speed Pochettino loves at CB. He’s likely to start out on loan but the trio of second squad / bench players are going to be looking over their shoulder if he has a good season.
You're getting very good at extracting plenty of money for your stars when it is clear they are looking elsewhere.

2024-25 FIRST HALF : KEEP THE DRAGON BANNER UP

Once again Mauricio Pochettino has managed to continue the momentum from the previous season, a task made much easier by the talent collected at United. Early concerns about the semi-rebuilt second squad would go away after they managed to keep adding United’s name to some silverware right out of the gate. A 4-0 win in the Community Shield over Manchester City would give United their 5th straight, and more bad news for Max Allegri as City would fall 1-0 in the UEFA Super Cup to give United their 3rd in a row and 4th in (5) years. An English team has now taken that game (6) straight years, every one of United’s coming via the second squad.

The Dragon Banner would fly high over Old Trafford, or really anywhere United set foot on a field, as Pochettino’s side would hand out beatings week after week in an effort to top last season. Every year that seems impossible, but United seem to have an unlimited ceiling.

CHAMPIONS LEAGUE DRAW

GROUP H
Manchester United (England)
Lyon (France)
RB Salzburg (Austria)
Dinamo Zagreb (Croatia)

No offense to Lyon and RB Salzburg, but United landed one of the easiest groups in the tournament. Lyon is the biggest danger if the team loses focus or Pochettino is forced into playing the second squad, but most media outlets have United sleepwalking through this group. The other English sides don’t have it quite as easy with Liverpool (Juventus, Club Brugge, Porto), Arsenal (Napoli, Benfica, Real Sociedad) and Manchester City (Borussia Dortmund, AZ Alkmaar, Galatasaray) getting groups with at least one tough opponent. For the most part most of the draws were fair without a real group of death.

MATCH(ES) OF THE FIRST HALF

Premier League (H) : Manchester United 11 - Southampton 0


Gao Jisheng and everyone at Southampton have to be wondering what they did to piss off Pochettino, since taking over United the Saints have been on the wrong end of results in a very bad way. This would be the second 11-0 beating Southampton would suffer at the hands of United in just a few seasons. Since the 2021-22 season Manchester United has outscored Southampton 33-0, after today it’s obvious why.

Manager Javi López had to watch his side get demolished by a near perfect United performance. Everyone aside from David De Gea rated at 9.0 or higher with Jadon Sancho barely snagging the PoM award with a double and a 9.5 rating. (7) United players scored in this one with (4) scoring twice, this was a perfect storm with United playing to their potential and Southampton having a terrible game. In their first season back up from the Championship Javi López’s side was so bad that De Gea rated 8.1 without facing a single shot. The Saints have a long way to go, but they will likely try to forget this one as quickly as possible.

Premier League (A) : Tottenham 1 - United 2


Believe it or not the media has swung hard to cover a rejuvenated rivalry. A 3-1 win of Manchester City and a 0-0 stinker at Anfield didn’t feel half as important as the return of Jürgen Klopp to the Premier League. Marcelo Bielsa is definitely feeling hurt by the attention Klopp is getting, he’s right there with Ole GUnnar Solskjaer as a manager that helped elevate a club only to see another manager get most of the credit. Klopp’s Spurs entered this game 2nd in the league with a solid 9-2-0 record and all the momentum Tottenham could hope for. Despite the hype United came into this game as firm favorites, Spurs are ascending but Pochettino just has too much firepower on hand.

Klopp would use his favored 4-1-2-3 formation to try and clog up Pochettino’s game and anchor man Declan Rice would have his hands full on the way to a PoM award. For the most part Klopp’s approach worked as United dominated possession but failed to develop their usual avalanche of shots in the first half. Things would get heated in the technical area at 18’ after an incredible goal by Sancho looked to break the game open for the visitors. Sancho would receive a throw in and pass it off to Danny Ginger in the middle of the field, lurking wide just above the box he would make an incredible run to find himself unmarked near the outside of the box about level with the penalty spot. Ginger would thread a pass through (4) Spurs defenders to hit Sancho in stride for a 1-0 lead, but the celebration was cut short by a raised flag. Pochettino was quite upset as Sancho appeared to be onside for the goal, well onsides in fact, but it turned out the problem was Mason Greenwood failing to react to Spurs’ pulling up their back line and finding himself well beyond them. The call would give Spurs new life and they would head into the half level 0-0 with a frustrated United side still looking to break the game open.

Things tipped in Klopp’s favor in the second half when Ousmane Dembélé would twist his ankle and limp off at 50’, but the relief would be momentary as Andrès Landman would come on and score just a few minutes later at 54’. Spurs continued to play well and forced United to work from the back, the entire back line rated highest for United as King Holland did his best to generate an attack that fell flat at times. The game dragged on into 89’ when Spurs’ hero suddenly became the villain, Rice would put a stop to a Bruno Fernandes run into the box but he caught Fernandes’ ankle before the ball and put him on the penalty spot. With the game rolling into stoppage time Fernandes would make it 2-0 and basically lock the game up. Some lazy defending would allow an easy goal for some late game drama but United would stiffen up and close this one out. This game was as close as the scoreline would indicate, Spurs weren’t that far off and Klopp looks to be building on what Bielsa started.

A RIVALRY IS REBORN

The media would spend an enormous amount of time covering the return of Klopp, but the real story was United’s run of invincibility. United would finish the first half on a mind-blowing (150) game unbeaten run across all competitions, at this point a draw against them feels like a huge win for anyone. Most coverage revolved around the Premier League, thanks to a weak Champions League group, so Klopp managing to keep Spurs just (10) points back of United seemed like a bigger story than it really was. It didn’t help that the rest of the league was falling away already with Manchester City (9) back of Spurs and big clubs like Liverpool and Arsenal falling down the table into Europa League qualification. Chelsea have really fallen on hard times, finishing the half in 11th, so most of the media had pivoted to United as the only team looking like a true world power.

Once again Pochettino seems to be finding new heights for this team. United would finish the first half with (87) league goals while allowing just (3), easily on pace to completely destroy any and all league scoring records. It would be easy to point to Bruno Fernandes, his (20) goals and (10) assists make him stand out as the center of United’s brilliance, but in reality the entire team has been firing on all cylinders. Mason Greenwood would have (17) goals to stay close to Fernandes, making him worth the risk of selling Marcus Rashford. (10) players scoring (5) or more goals and (8) players providing (5) or more assists pain the picture of a team scoring from all over the place, Fernandes and Greenwood aren’t carrying this squad despite leading the team and the league in scoring. It does help to have Fernandes continuing his Ballon d’Or winning form by leading the Premier League in goals (15), average rating (8.69), and assists (8) with a supporting cast he wouldn’t trade for anyone.

Once again it’s difficult to find points of interest beyond the utter dominance on display. Pochettino’s side is prepared, healthy, and never really has a dip in form. The only bump in the road for the first half came in the 0-0 draw at Anfield in August, after that is was smooth sailing even when they weren’t winning 6-0. The 2-1 win over Spurs on November 10th was the last time anyone scored on United through the end of the year across all competitions, the month of December was particularly bad for the opposition with a string of games where they never won by less than 3-0 that included Arsenal (5-0) and Liverpool (3-0) in the Carabao Cup Quarter Final.



FIRST HALF AWARDS & PLAUDITS

Move over Bruno Fernandes, a new United Legend has been born. Not since Cristiano Ronaldo has a United player risen so quickly on the world stage, fueled by an incredible season in the second squad and a great half season this year Danny Ginger would run roughshod over the awards season. Fernandes would end up finishing second in the Ballon d’Or to Ginger with Mason Greenwood a close third to keep the award in Manchester. Even Ginger seemed shocked, he was an outside contender to finish in the Top 3 so seeing him win it was certainly a shock for someone so young. How he didn’t finish in the Top 3 for FIFA Best Player, which Fernandes would win, makes the Ballon d’Or voting even more confusing.


FIFA Ballon d’Or : Danny Ginger - (20) goals, (22) assists, 8.51rating
FIFA Best Player : Bruno Fernandes - (31) goals, (18) assists, 8.38 rating
FIFPro Player Of The Year : Danny Ginger
FIFA U21 Player Of The Year : Luís Nazário - (26) goals, 8.22 rating
FIFA GK Of The Year : David De Gea
European Golden Boy : Danny Ginger


Another sign of how well Pochettino has this squad playing is the number of important players that were injured and the team just kept on winning. The most concerning injury happened in United’s opening league game against Stoke when Fernandes broke a rib and ended up being ruled out for (3) weeks after seeing a specialist. King Holland would follow him with a right knee ligament injury against Liverpool, costing him (2) weeks of August.

The most emotional injury happened in September when Pedro Durán broke his ankle and had to sit out for (3) months. Durán has been tabbed for greatness but he’s struggled to recreate his loan spell and the injury dealt a serious psychological blow, the time out is going to create an opening for Landman that the Bolivian won’t be happy about. Things got harder for Durán when Fernandes twisted his ankle a few days before the Manchester Derby and missed (3) weeks. Down to a single CAM Pochettino called up Kasim Pasha from the U-23 and Durán had to sit and watch him win back-to-back PoM while filling in. Jean-Clair Todibo would cut his leg in October, losing (12) days, and then Dembélé would make his regular trip back to the physio table against Spurs in November. The twisted ankle would cost him (4) weeks, yet another injury giving Landman more playing time, but Dembélé has been so good for Pochettino that he’s become immune to United’s previous intolerance for often injured players. Luís Nazário would hit the physio’s table in December with a left ankle ligament injury, but the timing was perfect and his (2) weeks out overlapped with an international break and he would be ready for January.
Absolutely dominant both in terms of the results and in the awards. What a year it has been for young Danny Ginger!

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