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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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Ohhh I wonder if having a Saudi Owner will be an improvement on Glazer...
You can't be taken over by a Saudi then United fans would have nothing to insult City fans with haha
A tidy set of results there and intriguing news about the ownership...

NOVEMBER : EASY GOING

Europa League (A) : BATE Borisov 1 - Manchester United 5


Manchester United would rack up some serious frequent flyer miles this month with all but two games on the road, the longest trip being their game in Belarus. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer might have had a long flight this week, but he would do it with two solid wins under his belt. An easy 2-0 win in the Carabao Cup over Nottingham Forest would earn United a Quarter Final against Burnley, and a 3-0 league win over Southampton would have spirits high. A win today against BATE Borisov would put United firmly in control of their Europa League group and a win in their next game against Getafe would likely clinch 1st.

The only bad news coming into this game was the loss of Phil Jones for up to 3 weeks with an ankle ligament injury, but even that wasn’t the worst news. Jones has essentially lost his place in the second squad to Axel Tuanzebe and missing him means his spot as a sub is taken by someone else. After the previous game against BATE Borisov Solskjaer felt confident in the second squad, it also gave the first team some rest for looming EPL games.

United made this game look easy, and while the stats don’t show a distinct level of dominance they did manage to be more clinical finishers. Mason Greenwood would score just 6’ in for his first of the day and Tuanzebe would head in a corner during stoppage time of the first half. It would be 5-0 as stoppage time started for the end of the game, just before the hosts managed to get on the board and spoil Sergio Romero’s clean sheet. It wouldn’t all be good news as Juan Mata would leave with a knee injury that would hold him out up to a week, but that news was tempered by clinching a spot in the next round.


Greenwood has been excellent lately.

Europa League (A) : Getafe 1 - Manchester United 2


Another long road trip would cap a long run of solid wins for United, at least this time the Madrid area would be a little more exciting than Belarus. A 3-0 win against Aston Villa and a 2-0 win at Sheffield United would keep United in the title hunt, but the way Arsenal and Manchester City have been playing a Top 4 finish is more likely. A win today would clinch the group, so Solskjaer would need to keep an eye out for players looking to sneak into Madrid to celebrate. The second choice squad would get the call again, there really wasn’t a need to grind down the first team before diving back into the EPL.

Getafe got the statistical dominance you would have expected from the BATE Borisov game without the clinical finishing, Fred would score his first goal of the year at 22’ on a near tap in. A hard pass from Diogo Dalot at the end line back across the goal got Sergey Chernik and the defense moving left as the pass found Fred stepping to the penalty spot, an easy tap back the other way found an open net as Chernik could do nothing to stop it. Greenwood made it 2-0 just after the half and things basically seemed over, even when Getafe pulled one back at 70’ it was a bigger deal to manage their goal differential.

Once again United would get bad news with good as Nemanja Matic would suffer an ankle injury that would rule him out for 2-3 weeks. The win would clinch 1st in the group with one more game against AZ Alkmaar to go, second place would basically be down to the Getafe-BATE Borisov game if AZ Alkmaar lose to United.
Absolutely cruising in the Europa League so far
Some great results there, especially the Liverpool win. Good work.
Easy work in the Europa League. An absolutely cracking result against bitter rivals Liverpool, too. Good work.
Flying in the Europa League!
2019-12-30 11:04#264448 TheLFCFan : Some great results there, especially the Liverpool win. Good work.

That felt like one of those games where if I played it 10 times I'd win one, they were pretty bad for some reason.

DECEMBER : 9TH CIRCLE OF HELL

Premier League (A) : Tottenham 4 - Manchester United 3


United’s first away game of December would be quite the rude awakening, if a month with a whopping nine games scheduled wasn’t bad enough having to face off against Spurs and Arsenal in that run made it even worse. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was enjoying quite a run, beating Everton 3-1 and West Ham 2-1 at Old Trafford put them closer to the top of the league but came with a bit of a downside. Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Ethan Laird, and Axel Tuanzebe would all face injuries and put the defense in jeopardy. Laird was the worst of them, a calf injury would hold him out 2-3 week and leave LB in an even bigger mess. Ashley Young is now United’s only starting caliber LB, the transfer window can’t come soon enough.

The trip to Spurs’ new stadium would expose a number of issues that Solskjaer has been getting away with all season. The big difference was that United haven’t had a player of Harry Kane’s quality to expose the problem. The game started out very well for United as they controlled possession and started out-shooting Spurs right away, Bruno Fernandes combined with Marcus Rashford to take advantage of a Davinson Sánchez defensive gaffe at 8’ to put United up 1-0. Things were looking good for Solskjaer, but Kane was slowly exposing their weakness to Route One football. Time and time again Spurs would send long balls forward, sometimes from deep in their third, and find Kane streaking between Harry Maguire and Victor Lindelöf for a one-on-one with David De Gea. A number of times he was so far past that United fans began whistling because he wasn’t called offsides, so far De Gea had been up to the task of stopping him. At 29’ it was Son Heung-Min serving up a counter punch to the mess Kane was creating, Kane received a free kick from deep in Spurs’ third and took three United defenders with him toward the right side of the box before he cross the ball to a wide open Son who easily headed it in as De Gea dove to his left and barely missed. Now 1-1, Kane broke through with two goals just before the half on similar passes that left Maguire and Lindelöf looking like statues.


Kane was too good for United today.

Down 3-1, Marcus Rashford seemed to take a page from Kane’s book as he scored off a long ball that allowed him to run right past Spurs’ back line and tap the ball past Hugo Lloris at 49’. At 76’ Rashford would repeat the move, this time from a shorter pass to pull the game level at 3-3. A long period of confusion followed United’s goal celebration as Solskjaer argued with an official, the goal was under review and VAR found that Rashford scored from an offsides position. The whistling returned for the refs, but it would return in force just a few minutes later. Young collected an errant long ball in United’s third and took a hefty touch to bring the ball down, sending it flying more than a few steps away and right into the path of Moussa Sissoko. Sissoko had a direct path to goal and punched the ball under De Gea for a 4-2 lead and a shower of whistling for Young. Anthony Martial would score a nice goal deep in stoppage time, but the whistle blew almost immediately after to finish off a sad outing for United.

Europa League (H) : Manchester United 2 - AZ Alkmaar 0


Having clinched 1st in the group, this game was a dead rubber for United but a win would save AZ Alkmaar. Everyone had a shot to advance with a win, and Arne Slot was looking at the hardest path to a win. Solskjaer used the second squad today so the first team could rest for Arsenal later in the week, it also gave him an opening to send Jesse Lingard home to recover from illness.

Things didn't go well for Slot at all, things were so bad for AZ Alkmaar that they failed to register a single shot in the first half. United were more than dominant but failed to score, so there was a ray of hope for the visitors. Number of shots don’t matter as much if none of them go in, but at the same time you can’t score if you don’t take any shots. Playing the whole game on their back foot must have gotten to AZ Alkmaar in the second half as they started fouling more and more to balance out the 66%-34% possession issue, eventually it led to Ron Vlaar practically kicking Mason Greenwood as he tried to run onto a through ball just inside the box. VAR was used to determine that he was inside the box and Daniel James put the penalty in. Andreas Periera would score at 72’ and things seemed over for Slot.


While AZ Alkmaar were rightfully disappointed by the result they moved on very quickly when Getafe drew 1-1 with BATE Borisov to eliminate both of them. United would be drawn with Trabzonspor in the Europa League 1st knockout round, a fortunate draw considering some of the other teams lurking.

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


A visit from Unai Emery and his red hot Gunners would be Solskjaer’s first real test of the season. Liverpool and Manchester City have righted their ships recently and will be tough opponents in the rematches, United definitely faced both of them at the right time. Arsenal is in peak form and currently (8) points clear of Manchester City in 1st, a win would help both Manchester clubs but Solskjaer has maintained that 1st isn’t their primary objective.

“We want to win all our games, but we aren’t as focused on the title as others” quietly admitted Solskjaer “we need to qualify for the Champions League, if that means finishing 1st or 4th we’ll see. I don’t know if we are ready to be champions just yet.”

For all of the fanfare, articles, and sniping between fan bases this game was quite boring. Solskjaer did adopt a more balanced approach to the in form Gunners, but all that seemed to do was cede more possession to them as both teams ended up playing fairly evenly. Marcus Rashford did score 19’ in off a Juan Mata free kick, taken from just outside the box at a very steep angle, the ball flew through the box and found Rashford waiting at the back post to head it in. After that, things were very tight and it looked like United might be able to hang on to this one, a win against Arsenal might announce them as potential champions.

The game chugged on until the 86’ when all hell broke loose courtesy of one of the worst backpasses or best through balls, depending on who you root for, in recent memory. In a move that drew Solskjaer from the dugout to wordlessly question Harry Maguire, he received a pass just beyond the half and spun before punting a pass all the way back to the box. Who this pass was intended for it still up for debate, but Alexandre Lacazette wasn’t going to wait to find out. He collected the pass with no United defenders within 15 yards of it, ran to the end line and hammered a shot around the approaching Lindelöf that crossed the net at a near 180 degree angle and hit the opposite side netting. A stunning goal to end a rather dull game, and once again defensive frailty would be United’s downfall.

Carabao Cup (A) : Burnley 0 - Manchester United 2


Coming so close to beating Arsenal only to fall apart at the end made things a little tense for Solskjaer. Burnley wouldn’t quite be Arsenal, but with an away game against Wolves in a few days he had to take a chance with the second squad. The way Mason Greenwood had been playing would put fans at ease, but few put much importance on the Carabao Cup with United in the hunt for a league title and the Europa League still in their grasp.

Sadly, this game would be more memorable for the string of bizarre circumstances that left Solskjaer and Sean Dyche stressed. First Chris Wood would need to leave the game at 28’ after breaking his hand by hitting the post on a corner. Greenwood would try to best Wood when he slipped past the end line and slid into a digit ad, twisting his ankle in the process and making Solskjaer look like an idiot because he didn’t have another CF on the bench. United came out at the half with Daniel James at CF as Antonio Marin came on to man LW.

The game dragged on with United dominating possession but failing to do anything with it until Andreas Periera broke through with a 62’ goal followed by Tahith Chong at 71’, and then things got really interesting. Off the ensuing kickoff Axel Tuanzebe got caught up field and practically kicked Matej Vydra in the knee as he tried to run around Tuanzebe, he had already been booked so it made sending him off easy. Solskjaer was forced to swap Daniel James for Harry Maguire, who did not think he was going to be playing today, and gut out a win with a 4-2-3. The win would earn United a date with Watford in the Semi-Final.
Results have been pretty good overall, particularly the win over Liverpool, but the manner of the results of the Spurs & Arsenal games will have hurt. Hopefully you can get your own over them soon enough.
Trabzonspor will be an easy win, really backing you to win the Europa League!

TRANSFER WINDOW : BREXIT IS DEAD

Despite news that United was going to sign Atletico Madrid’s Saúl for £81M, the team did not have much money to spend until other players were sold. The little that was available went into a potential superstar who was available for a fraction of his future value, and an upgrade to backup GK. The bigger news of transfer season was the UK deciding not to leave the EU, after going back and forth while driving the football economy insane the long European nightmare is over and nothing will stop EPL teams from spending embarrassing sums of money on foreign players anytime soon.

Senior / Major Transfers (Out)
Juan Mata (RW, Leicester City) £16M

Senior Transfers (In)
Eduardo Camavinga (CM, Stade Rennais) £22M
Armel Bella-Kotchap (CB, VfL Bochum) £20M
Jorge (LB, AS Monaco) £19.5M
Mike Maignan (GK, LOSC Lille) £6.5M

The big headliner was Camavinga who could very well be the next Paul Pogba. The 17-year old was immediately loaned to Bayer Leverkusen, if he had stayed he might challenge for starts immediately and push Nemanja Matic out of the second choice squad, moving Fred to the BBM position or playing it himself. Maignan represented a value purchase to replace aging backup options behind David De Gea, it also doesn’t hurt that he’s better than Sergio Romero and Lee Grant.


Camavinga could soften the blow if Pogba leaves next year.

The big “you need a director of football” moment came when United somehow failed to capitalize on Christian Eriksen being available on a free after publicly, and aggressively, rejecting a contract offer from Tottenham. United looked set to get into a bidding war with PSG for his services, but in the end he didn’t even let United make an offer before accepting one from PSG. There was a little bit of drama surrounding the Jorge transfer as his work permit application was rejected, which would have been a major blow to a team desperate for LB help, but it was granted upon appeal.
Mata to Leicester is interesting, some good signings too
Some good business there, certainly.

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