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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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MID SEASON TRANSFER WINDOW : ALL QUIET ON THE MANCHESTER FRONT

Mauricio Pochettino had the luxury of turning his phone off on transfer deadline day as he had no need for reinforcements. The depth the club has built in the youth structure has managed to fill any holes and the club doesn’t plan on buying senior players any time soon. The down time allowed United to proudly announce an astounding £402M in commercial income, dwarfing the rest of the league, and with player recruitment out of his hands Ed Woodward came out looking like a hero for once. On and off the field United are starting to cement themselves as the most successful club in the world. The only real shocker of this window was United passing on buying any youth players, considering the summer purge this had more to do with cleaning out their system than a lack of prospects.


C.R.E.A.M.

Just because United weren’t buying didn’t mean that they would be left alone. Pochettino and Luís Campos pretty much refused to take calls, but these things tend to take on a life of their own. The hottest commodity became the freshly permitted Juan Marín, playing in more games than anyone aside from Edward Wessex, as Borussia Dortmund (£35M) and PSG (£42.5M) were the most aggressive by far. Pochettino essentially considers him priceless, proven by rejecting a £49M bid from Barcelona, even with TransferMarkt valuing him at £15M. For the most part it seems like teams are just trolling for scarce resources. Alanzinho, midfield bench option who has barely sniffed the field, became the target of bizarre transfer offers as teams just tried to attack United’s depth. Marín and Alanzinho were not moved by these overtures, no matter what Marca’s reporters had to say about it.

Never ceasing rumors about Atlético Madrid buying Jadon Sancho and Chelsea scooping up Owen Flowers didn’t amount to much. At least Chelsea put in a few bids for Flowers (£50M & £68M), Atlético Madrid never really made a serious attempt beyond planting stories in the media and Marcelino saying nice things about Sancho.

Senior / Major Transfers (Out)
None

Senior Transfers (In)
None

Final Transfer List (Impact Signings)
None
The club are certainly making all the right moves on and off the pitch. Commercial success is key and United are in a terrific position.

2024-25 SECOND HALF : F*CKING ARSENAL (AGAIN)

Running away with the league has become commonplace on one side of Manchester, with the league just about in the bag (barring a massive collapse) the team has been focused on winning the Champions League again. Bruno Fernandes continues his campaign to keep the Ballon d’Or in Manchester, albeit back in his hands, as the team faces almost token resistance on a weekly basis.

MATCH(ES) OF THE SECOND HALF

Premier League (A) ; Arsenal 3 - United 2


Speaking of token resistance, United may have been lulled into a false sense of security early in March. A 5-1 win over Leicester in the Carabao Cup final and a 8-0 Emirates Cup win against Sheffield Wednesday, combined with a massive lead in the league, saw a well rested United make their way to the Emirates to play a hungry Arsenal side. The Gunner were sitting behind Spurs for 3rd and a tight race for that final Champions League slot meant that Unai Emery desperately needed points against the worst possible opponent. On paper this looked like a lost cause, an injury to Kieran Tierney meant Lucas Hernández was playing LWB in a 5-3-2 that hoped to clog up the middle while blunting United wide. Emery was going to need to find a way to piece together a defense against the league’s most powerful offense, luckily for him Byron Caicedo was more than willing to help him out.

Emery signalled his intent immediately and Krzysztof Piatek was just the player to help him pull it off. With United occupied wide, and Caicedo being pressed into defensive duties more than he would like to, it exposed Pochettino’s back line to some Route One tactics. Piatek would take up residence a little wide of the LCB (Dayot Upamecano) and behind King Holland on the wing, giving him ample room to receive long balls and try to beat Upamecano. Some bad defending, with Holland front and center, allowed Piatek to score from inside the goal area just 9’ into the game. That’s when the internal drama started, with Caicedo giving Holland an earful despite putting forth almost no effort to defend. An Ousmane Dembélé cross from the end line would bang around in the box before finding Caicedo lounging on the back post for an easy goal, pulling United level 1-1. Despite the issues wide, especially on the left as Caicedo’s poor defending put extra pressure on Holland, Florentino Luís would feed Mason Greenwood in close at 28’ to pull ahead and seemingly kill Arsenal’s chances at staying in 4th. That would change in stoppage time before the half when Shoya Nakajima would make a wonderful diagonal run, cutting under Jean-Clair Todibo and just behind the overtaxed Holland for a clear shot from the right corner of the goal area. The ball would find the far post and deflect in to pull Arsenal level 2-2 and leave David De Gea looking upset as he walked off the pitch.

Maybe the team didn’t care, or maybe Pochettino wasn’t interested in changing his approach, but Arsenal were able to keep doing what they were trying to do. Piatek was making Upamecano work hard all first half and at 56’ it finally paid off, Antony would boot the ball up the middle to Piatek from inside Arsenal’s half and the Polish striker would get the crease he needed to slot one in with Upamecano running behind him. Up 3-2 at 56’ against this United team wasn’t safe by any measure, but the combination of poor defending and the issues on the left side meant that United just didn’t have their usual push on offense. A few instances of finger pointing and a sideline chat with Pochettino made the Caicedo-Holland saga nearly as visible as the presumptive league Champions melting down. Time expired and Arsenal’s 3-2 win ended United’s chances at an invincible season, but the story quickly became Caicedo kicking a water bottle carrier into the stands followed by an ill-advised interview after the game.

“When we don’t do our jobs, when King [Holland] doesn’t do his job, we are *expletive*, and I can’t be expected to make up for it.”

Inside sources report that Pochettino was significantly more upset about that outburst than the result. Ever since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer took over the club has been very good about controlling what comes out of the team, that interview was not part of that message and the club was likely to punish Caicedo on some level.

Champions League (N) : Juventus 1 - Manchester United 3


Another season, another trip to the Champions League final. Maurizio Sarri had finally brought Juventus back to the final, but they did it as handy underdogs. United beat Barcelona 6-1 in the first leg of the Quarter Final and that was the last time they had conceded in the Champions League. An 8-1 aggregate win over Barcelona and 5-0 over Bayern Munich to reach the final made Juventus’ grind to the final look like a trip through hell. Sarri would drag his squad through three straight rounds where away goals or penalties would be needed. Penalties against Arsenal after trading 1-0 road wins, an ugly 3-3 aggregate win over Atlético Madrid, and a dull 1-1 series against Real Madrid would see Juventus win by holding the visitors to a 0-0 draw in the final leg. To make things even worse for the Turin side the game would be held at Old Trafford with the Ghost of Champions League Finals past hanging over their heads. The last time Juventus were here in a final they faced AC Milan in 2002-03 and lost 3-2 on penalties. It didn’t help that ever since the 1995-96 win over Ajax Juventus was 0-5 in Champions League finals.

“Overrated” was all Sarri had to say about Pochettino in a pre-game interview, he decline to elaborate on that statement but his intent was clear.

Sarri would come out with his 4-3-1-2 midfield diamond with a very solid left side of his back line. Matthijs de Ligt, a regular of United transfer rumors, and ex-United LB Jorge would form a formidable team to deal with Dembélé and Álvaro Odriozola. There would be a bit of an issue with United’s central defense, with Todibo ruled out thanks to a concussion David Strange would get the start. Mason Greenwood would get the start after missing (3) weeks with a calf strain, though Luís Nazário was so good in his place that missing him wouldn’t have been all that much of a problem. As it turned out, Sarri’s midfield diamond didn’t do much to help as United’s attack flowed out wide and Juventus spent the game on their back foot. They lasted 16’ before conceding on a great goal that may have only been topped by the surgical pass that created it. From the far right corner of the box Danny Ginger would send a hard cross diagonally to the far corner of the goal area for Jadon Sancho to knock in. The pass threaded (5) Juventus defenders and left Wojciech Szczesny almost helpless to stop Sancho.

The first half dragged on with Juventus looking desperate to stay in the game and the second half looked to be more of the same until Sarri showed that he’d review the Arsenal game tape. Abusing the inexperience Strange, Bryan Cristante booted a ball from their own half to a streaking Paco Alcácer who would just barely squeeze between Strange and Odriozola before scoring at 48’ to put the game level at 1-1. It was right about then that Juventus started to collapse and the relentless United offense took over. All those shots United were taking started making Szczesny work harder and at 66’ they started going in starting with an Odriozola shot to go up 2-1. At 81’ Greenwood would dart in front of Cristian Romero and poke the ball in from point blank range to give United a 3-1 lead and seal their 4th straight title.


Bad memories at Old Trafford

WALKING AWAY WITH IT

Outside of the loss to Arsenal, which broke a (163) game unbeaten run across all competitions, United has a pretty easy time on their way to their 5th straight Premier League and 4th straight Champions League title. When that loss came they were still (14) points clear of Spurs in 2nd with two and a half months left to play, a series of firm beatings to close out the year left no doubt on this one. A 2-1 win over Chelsea on April 12th handed them the trophy with (6) games left while the rest of the league melted away, at that point United were (19) clear of Manchester City in 2nd while Spurs had a late-season collapse after managing to stay (10) points away for quite a while.

Bruno Fernandes did his best to stand out among the crowd at United, but being this dominant means a total team performance. You won’t hear Mason Greenwood grumbling, though his biggest fans will be more than happy to tell you about it, Fernandes became a master of drawing penalties this year and managed to leave a number of defenders looking upset. His (35) goals across all competitions was puffed up a bit by those penalties, with Greenwood’s (27) finishing second on the squad and in the Premier League. Fernandes used those penalties to win the league scoring title by (9) with (28), if Greenwood was the one taking them they might have swapped positions. Penalties aside, Fernandes led the Premier League in rating (8.59), assists (20), and PoM awards (8). It was a big year for United, (10) players had double digit goals and (10) had double digit assists with (4) players (Fernandes, Greenwood, Dembélé, and Danny Ginger) doing both. Jean-Clair Todibo took over from Upamecano as the highest scoring defender with (16), all of them on corners.



Pochettino had to deal with some mildly serious injuries this time around, though the team clearly dealt with them well. Eva Carneiro got a ton of mileage out of United’s preferred specialists in February after Andrès Landman (rib) and Jadon Sancho (lower arm) both suffered broken bones. Landman lost (4) weeks while Sancho was held out a full (5) to avoid re-injuring the arm. Álvaro Odriozola and Greenwood both suffered calf strains in April, but Greenwood would be ruled out for (3) weeks with his injury while Pochettino took caution to get him ready for the Champions League final. May saw Ousmane Kanté (pulled ankle ligaments) and Todibo (concussion) be ruled out for the rest of the season, both would be watching the Champions League final from the stands.
You can be utterly dominant but one loss provokes that sort of reaction from a player? What a poor attitude Caicedo has.
2020-08-10 01:48#276986 ScottT : You can be utterly dominant but one loss provokes that sort of reaction from a player? What a poor attitude Caicedo has.

He was headed for a sub-6.0 rating until his goal made the day respectable, that 5-3-2 made a mess.

2024-25 YOUTH INTAKE & U-23/U-18 PERFORMANCE

If you were to read about this class it would be difficult to tell that as a whole it was not a good crop of players. One signing has managed to paper over the lackluster quality of the intake. Hard for United to get too upset about this class though, they have so much young talent piling up thanks to an aggressive transfer policy they can’t just hope for better next year.

Klaas-Jan Dembélé (CM - Netherlands) : The crown jewel of this class has been called Danny Ginger 2.0, though it’s hard to expect that kind of return on every quality CM the team brings in. He’s physically imposing and everyone who sees him in person immediately focuses on his height and athletic ability, but his technical ability and crisp passing is what will make him a great player. Of Congolese descent, he moved to England after living in the Netherlands for most of his life, the FA would be wise to try and get him to declare for England but his future is more likely Orange.

Joel Page (CB - England) : Right out of the Pochettino handbook. Tall, fast, and good at playing short simple passes. He lacks some of the positional understanding he needs to lift his ceiling as a player, but with a lithe figure there is room for him to add strength and be a threat in the air on both ends of the field. His current ceiling is somewhere around a bench regular, but with the right training could see the second squad after a few years of work or a solid loan spell or two.

U-23 : A very good season, winning the U-23 Premier League 2 Division 1, Leasing.com Trophy (with a massive 9-0 win over QPR), the International Cup, and the Premier League Cup, this team is bursting with players that need to be moved up or sold. CAM Sócrates de Andrade went down with a double hernia so he had to sit back and watch the rest of his team put on a great show all year. Marco Overmars, Lancaster French, Kasim Pasha, Gabriel Platini, Eppie Jorritsma, Maurice Engbrecht, Garcia Loussoukou, and Nicolas Rémy all look like future regulars if not stars. Overmars and French are the headliners, but most of these names will be familiar to fans pretty soon.

U-18 : This squad was hit hard by injuries in the 2nd half, but they still managed to have a great season. Injuries to Obrendo Kluivert (torn knee ligaments), Jorge Ríos (damaged ACL), Rodrigo (lower back stress fracture), and Souleyman Diallo (broken toe) would all miss significant time with Kluivert and Jorge Ríos missing months. Jorge Ríos’ injury is bad enough to knock him out for at least half a year, anyone who remembers László Puskás will know that a full recovery will be difficult and might not be at United. The U-18 side would repeat in the Premier League Cup,the Premier League, the FA Youth Cup, and most importantly the UEFA Youth League with a win in penalties after a 1-1 draw with Roma. Kluivert, prior to his injury, and Benedict Wrexham were the standout players for United this year. Kluivert still managed (9) goals and (19) assists as the CAM while Wrexham piled up (16) goals as a CB. These two aren’t long for the U-18 side and should make their way to the U-23 squad or a loan spell next season.
Glad to see yet more success for the youngsters.

2024-25 POSTSEASON

Quite a season for United and Mauricio Pochettino, every year it seems like they’ve hit their zenith and they keep raising their game. While the loss to Arsenal prevented another invincible season it didn’t stop the team from staying #1 in the rankings while the Premier League maintained the top spot in the European Competition rankings. The club also set a new record for Premier League attendance with an average of 91,179. Their 4th Champions League title in a row would bring the club total to (7) in a tie with AC Milan, passing Barcelona and Bayern Munich on the winners list. They are now (1) short of matching Liverpool and (6) short of Real Madrid. With the way things are going they might be sweating in Spain, but at the moment Liverpool has the most to worry about.

SECOND HALF AWARDS & PLAUDITS

More awards as United’s big names hog all the awards. Bruno Fernandes setting a new average rating record of 8.59 helped him take home more awards while paving the way for a run at a second Ballon d’Or.


Premier League Team of the Year


Champions League Team of the Year

United have invaded all of the continental trophies as teams struggle to knock them off their perch in the league. People are going to get sick of seeing United players taking up the Top 3 in all categories.

Manager Of The Year : Mauricio Pochettino
Champions League Golden Boot : Mason Greenwood (8)
Premier League Top Scorer : Bruno Fernandes (28)
Premier League Player Of The Year : Jean-Clair Todibo
Premier League Young Player Of The Year : Danny Ginger
Premier League Golden Glove : David De Gea
Champions League GK : David De Gea
Champions League Defender : Jean-Clair Todibo
Champions League Midfielder : Bruno Fernandes
Champions League Striker : Mason Greenwood
Best Player In Europe : Bruno Fernandes
Averaging over an eight is quite the achievement but averaging closer to a nine than a simple eight... Wow.

2025-26 : HAVE A CIGAR

Four Champions League wins along with five straight Premier League titles have bought Manchester United a seat on the Gravy Train. Even though he was pushed aside for Luis Campos the job Ed Woodward has done increasing United’s commercial income has been impressive. The club posted £333M in commercial income, dwarfing their nearest competition as Liverpool reported £184M and Manchester City £150M. The coffers are about to get fatter as well as United makes some cuts to their payroll and turns a serious profit on a few senior squad players, United’s accountants are going to be very busy for quite a while.

All the money flowing in has increased rumors of a new stadium, but for the time being Mauricio Pochettino has been limited to statements like “it would be nice” so it seems like things are still in the preliminary planning stages. Most of the debate among fans is centered around what the new stadium would be named, New Trafford and New Stretford seems to be fan favorites but TenCent Stadium seems more likely.


If Tottenham can, why not United?

Pochettino is going to need to deal with some roster turnover, but he’s shown an ability to deal with that on a regular basis so United remain favorites to repeat in both the Premier League and Champions League.
United are not only dominant on the pitch, they're dominant off it with their commercial success!

2025-26 ROSTER & TACTICS

Mauricio Pochettino’s squad is really starting to show the recruiting efforts of Luís Campos, you can tell where the club is spending its scouting budget. The team is now overflowing with English and French players with (9) a piece, but the Dutch are making a sudden surge with (6) players sneaking into the squad. Portugal (2) and Spain (1) make up the rest, but at this rate the team might be all England-France-Netherlands.

Goalkeepers
Some upsetting news on the GK front as fans are now suddenly confronted by the fact that David De Gea (34) isn’t immortal. The first sign of trouble was De Gea voluntarily stepping down as Captain to make room for Bruno Fernandes / Danny Ginger as team leaders. The next red flag is that his contract expires at the end of the year and only agreed to a (2) year extension despite the club trying to sign him for longer. It doesn’t help the De Gea situation, but makes the future of the club brighter, Owen Flowers (20) looks like a future star and will be the 2nd squad GK until De Gea leaves. Despite his age the club is comfortable with Flowers standing in for De Ge as needed, Pochettino’s stalwart defense also makes this a much easier position to play for United.

Best Player : David De Gea

Defenders
Central defense gets a bit of a makeover on the bench as Dayot Upamecano (26) and Jean-Clair Todibo (25) have asserted themselves as the best central defensive pairing in the world. Pochettino is more than happy with them and won’t be changing his mind for some time, these two have years to go at their peak and have no reason to leave barring PSG trying to make them the highest paid defenders in the world. David Strange (20) wins the competition to stay in Manchester as England’s best CB, the bar is rather low but he can continue to improve, and will be joined by Gabriel Platini (20) after a good loan spell at Tottenham. Benedict Wrexham (17) has been nothing short of stunning and looks like he could nab that Best English CB title soon, he’s going to be trusted with the bench but everyone is excited to see him play as soon as possible.

King Holland (20) has asserted himself as one of the best wingbacks in the Premier League and could be on his way to international stardom. RB is solidly his which is a shame for backup Renzo Maatrijk (20) who could be a star for the Dutch national team, he’s quietly been excellent and Pochettino can’t say enough about him. Lancaster French (17) is being given a shot to live up to the hype, this is a bit of a risk for Pochettino but the club has so much depth at LB he can make an adjustment quickly if needed. French has done nothing but look like a future star so it’s unlikely Pochettino cuts bait early, but you never know. Ferdy van Velde (19) gives French a little job security though he does look to be very talented, if French doesn’t live up to his billing then LB could be a weak spot for this squad. The bench is ruled by Edward Wessex (21) and a potential Wessex clone in Mark van der Linden (18) who can also play both sides, it’s more likely Pochettino will use them regularly on one side (Wessex at RB, van der Linden at LB) just to develop some consistency. This whole group is very deep and Pochettino has a ton of security if injuries hit too hard.

Best Player : Dayot Upamecano

Midfielders
With De Gea voluntarily giving up the armband it seemed appropriate for it to pass to Danny Ginger (20) as the new Vice-Captain, the Ballon d’Or winner will try to keep the trophy in Manchester as one of the best midfielders in the world. There is no way Eduardo Camavinga (22) is going to take over the BBM role now, but he’s probably the most overqualified backup in the Premier League. Florentino Luís (25) remains at DLP to form the best double pivot in Europe with Ginger, backing him up is newcomer Flavien Rigal (19) who cost United quite a bit of money a few years ago and might live up to it. Rigal also gets to work on forming a partnership with fellow Frenchman Camavinga as the two try to take over the midfield for France. Speaking of France, Nicolas Rémy (20) gets promoted to the senior squad as a solid prospect who can play either DLP or BBM.

Bruno Fernandes (30), now the team Captain, remains and probably won’t be leaving until he retires. The old man of the outfield squad is the heart of United’s offense. Things get much more interesting behind the Ballon d’Or winner thanks to some shuffling of the roster, Andrès Landman (21) is now the primary backup after serving as a CAM/RW bench option last year. Landman is an odd situation for Pochettino, he’s two-footed and starting to show a greater understanding of the game which is making him one of the most promising players on the squad thanks to his speed and athleticism. Landman can fill in at LW but he will spend most of the year in the middle of the field. Kasim Pasha (19) gets promoted as a bench option but many think the French-Tunisian playmaker is much more than that, if Pochettino didn’t have someone to play LW he could easily handle CAM duty with Landman sliding over to LW. There is definitely a step down after Fernandes, but many people are excited about giving the younger players a chance.

Best Player : Bruno Fernandes (Captain, United Legend)


Forwards
The starting positions at forward don’t change and will continue to fuel United’s attack. The attacking wingers have a great relationship with their wingbacks and Pochettino’s side have turned the wingback/inside forward to opposite side inside forward connection into an artform. Jadon Sancho (25) is an unstoppable force at LW and the primary beneficiary of the back post cross, Sancho was deadly last year and will continue to be so as long as he’s getting great crosses. Leon Elzinga (19) is a weird promotion but an understandable one as a player who can handle both wings. The young Dutchman is getting tossed into the deep end of the pool but most coaches feel he’ll swim. Ousmane Dembélé (28) is still doing his thing at RW, less goal scoring with excellent crosses to Sancho while peppering his game with key defensive plays makes him indispensable and well worth his hefty transfer fee. Ousmane Kanté (20), the other Ousmane, is back and probably a little frustrated to be stuck behind a fellow Frenchman. Kanté has been excellent as a backup and as a replacement when Dembélé gets injured, and he gets injured quite a bit. If Pochettino was going to spend a lot to hold on to a backup with would probably be Kanté.

A little bit of offseason drama has reshaped the striker position at United with Luís Nazário somewhat forcing his way out of town. Mason Greenwood (23) is still a favorite of Pochettino as an ice-cold finisher and England regular, his status at the club was an issue with Nazário who felt he should be starting after his excellent season. With Nazário leaving the door wide open for Marco Overmars (19) who has everyone slobbering over him, some of the staff (mostly Dutch) think he could be better than Nazário. Overmars brings the kind of speed, positioning, and feel for the game that some think will make him and international star. If Greenwood’s finishing can rub off on him he could be a household name sooner than later.

Best Player : Ousmane Dembélé
It's crazy to see the depth within this squad. One promising youngster is instantly replaced with another.
2020-08-16 22:51#277265 ScottT : It's crazy to see the depth within this squad. One promising youngster is instantly replaced with another.

I don't know how to do this outside of abusing the transfer / loan system, I buy a ton of lottery tickets and if 2-3 work out over the span of 3-4 years it really pays off. My 2nd squad approach also helps, sending them in to get minutes in low-risk situations after years of training in my tactic appears to be a great way to see who's good and who isn't.

2025-26 KIT RELEASED

More trophies and more big names on everything Nike you can think of, with a number of United players ascending to the level of international stardom kits sales are on the rise. The asian market, primarily China, is exploding which shouldn’t be surprising to anyone.


United stick with a subtle set of designs as Nike settle into a bit of a loop with their odd-year kits. Fans will recognize the inspiration behind their third kit, for better or for worse, outside of the white logos and font.

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