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Return To Glory : Manchester United

Manchester United's Return To Glory
Started on 20 November 2019 by OohAhCantona / First Post
Latest Reply on 11 February 2020 by Aaron / Last Post
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UNITED AT CROSSROADS AS SOLSKJAER HELMS FIRST FULL SEASON

Oh, how the mighty have fallen and yet continue to fall with the possibility of much farther to go. It’s hard to shed any tears for one of the wealthiest clubs in the world that finished 2nd in the Premier League just a season ago, things appeared to be turning around in year two of José Mourinho’s tenure after the 2017-18 season before things went terribly wrong. Finishing 2nd managed to paper over the rot that set in almost immediately after Sir Alex Ferguson rode off into the sunset in 2013. The David Moyes experiment failed, followed by a disappointing run by Louis Van Gaal, and then a perplexing if not expected period of Mourinho’s “special” methods. The club has been flailing for a decent manager and after trying out two men with track records of winning it was time to go with a club legend; Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.


Ole has an uphill battle at home an abroad.

Ryan Giggs is probably pretty annoyed right now, he was passed over when Moyes was sacked in April of his first season, but it’s still hard to tell where United is heading. The fans appear to hate the Glazers almost as much as Ed Woodward, the team’s Executive Vice-Chairman, and nobody seems to have a plan aside from spending even more money on new players. To make things even worse, and sour the mood even more, Liverpool won the Champions League for an English best 6th time. Being able to laugh at Liverpool for failing to win the league since the 1989-90 season doesn’t do much when they’ve hoisted the Champions League trophy twice since your last one. Sir Alex Ferguson knocked them right off their fucking perch, but they are dangerously close to taking it back under Jürgen Klopp. The rise of Manchester City has only made things worse, the top of the table has never been more crowded and United have never looked more out of touch. The team as a whole, on and off the field, don’t even feel like they are standing still. Things are going backwards.

Many fans outside of Manchester are overjoyed with United’s predicament, qualifying for the Champions League is their best case scenario and even that won’t be easy. Europa Cup competition takes some of the sting out, but fans will not settle for anything less than the best for much longer. Solskjaer is going to need to balance Domestic and European competitions while ownership contemplates a rebuild similar to the one Liverpool achieved. Patience will be key and some tough choices may have to be made, but all the pieces are there for a return to the glory achieved under Ferguson.


The Glazers are not well liked and likely will never be.

Solskjaer will be expected to play the kind of entertaining football fans became accustomed to during the Ferguson era while continuing to increase the club’s commercial revenue. It won’t be hard to put United in the black if Solskjaer finishes in the Top 4 and qualifies for the Champions League. Solskjaer is likely on the hot seat and a poor season might see him sacked, inside sources report that if he doesn’t guide them back to the Champions League this year he won’t get another chance.
Cracking start to this one, good luck
Boo we all hate United! ;)
1
Glad to see you back for FM20.
Bring us back to glory! I beg of you!

2019-20 ROSTER & TACTICS

With the amount of money being spent on this roster it’s hard to say Solskjaer doesn’t have the players to compete, but United have fallen far behind the other top teams and will need to show some serious improvement to make it back to the Champions League. The potential appointment of a Director Of Football should help United rebuild for the future, but right now they are still a team full of big names bought at high prices that have failed to live up to the hype. There is plenty of blame to go around for the post-Ferguson failings, but Solskjaer can’t lean on any excuses to get through the season.

After José Mourinho was sent packing Solskjaer managed to win 14 of 19 games to close out the season, that included a stunning win over PSG in the Champions League but also included a lopsided beating by Barcelona in the Quarterfinals that showed how much farther United need to go to really compete . Mourinho’s sides were supposed to be defensively stingy with just enough scoring to make the 1-0 wins add up, but a penchant for failing to score and defensive frailty led to his removal. Solskjaer’s first games seemed to revitalize Paul Pogba and Marcus Rashford, but as the season came to a close the team crashed from 4th in the EPL to 6th by losing 5 of their final 9 games with only 2 wins. In all of those losses United either failed to score or could only manage a single goal while allowing 2 or more goals. The fans demand high scoring games, and unless Solskjaer solves his defensive issues he’s going to need them to win.

Solskjaer will head into this season with a 4-2-3-1 formation that will focus on defensive stability and an aggressive press. The talent on hand probably won’t develop into a high scoring side, but if the press works and United can start their attacks in the opposition half it will go a long way to winning games again. The attack will primarily come through the wings, acting as inside forwards, cutting inside and creating space for overlapping backs who will be the primary providers of crosses into the box. The deeper lying midfielders will play as a deep lying playmaker and a box-to-box midfielder and the more advanced midfielder will play as an attacking midfielder trying to play balls through to the center forward. The lone forward will play an advanced forward role and look to occupy central defenders and work the channels to open opportunities for through balls and clear space for the inside forwards.

Goalkeepers
Getting a massive pile of cash for David De Gea might have looked good on paper, but management definitely knows how valuable he is to the team. De Gea (28) is still fairly young and one of the best GK in the world, replacing him would be nearly impossible. It would likely cost upwards of £100M to find a comparable player and it’s unlikely Barcelona, Manchester City, Liverpool, or Atlético Madrid are particularly interested in parting with their GK. Sergio Romero (32) and Lee Grant (36) are decent if not average backups, if either of them play a considerable amount of time it means something has gone horribly wrong.

Best Player : David De Gea (Captain)

Defenders
If Mourinho had £1B this group wouldn’t be an issue, but Woodward just wouldn’t sanction spending that much so this is what Solskjaer has to work with. The addition of Harry Maguire (26) from Leicester City should, in theory, plug a massive hole but he doesn’t solve all of United’s issues. Eric Bailly (25) once looked like the CB of the future but he quickly fell out of favor and Victor Lindelof (25) emerged as one of United’s best defenders under Solskjaer. Chris Smalling (29) was shipped out on loan earlier in the summer which leaves United fairly thin at CB. Phil Jones (27), youngster Axel Tuanzebe (21), and converted left back Marco Rojo (29) fill out the rest of the depth chart. A single injury could be a major issue for Solskjaer, especially if that injury hits Maguire.

The fullback position is one of United’s most fragile, on paper they could be very good barring any major injuries. The problem with that is that Luke Shaw (24) is an injury waiting to happen, he has significantly improved his stock since coming to United but he hasn’t been able to reach the heights he seemed destined for when he came over from Southampton. Behind Shaw at LB is Ashley Young (34), and then things get really bad. Young is the oldest non-GK on the roster, the fact that he’s still around is impressive and a little concerning. At RB Aaron Wan-Bissaka (21) seems to be a first team lock after a £45M move from Crystal Palace, he has a chance to be a special player and Solskjaer’s system could flourish if Wan-Bissaka plays up to his potential. Where LB has a much older player filling out the depth RB has untested youth with Diogo Dalot (20) and Timothy Fosu-Mensah (21). Dalot has a leg up on Fosu-Mensah as he has shown some improvement since Mourinho brought him over from FC Porto, but he still has a ways to go before being a first team regular.

Best Player : Harry Maguire

Midfielders
Will he stay or will he go? Paul Pogba (26) has flirted with leaving, and while United would get a solid chunk of cash for him it likely wouldn’t match what they paid to bring him back to Old Trafford. As long as Pogba stays he is United’s best player and the potential lynchpin of their attack, he will likely play primarily as a Deep Lying Playmaker. He has struggled to live up to his billing, but well documented issued with Mourinho could be the cause of that after his form greatly improved under Solskjaer at the end of the 2018-19 season. Fred (26) will be second choice at DLP with Nemanja Matic (30) lurking if he fails to impress. Playing next to Pogba in the box-to-box midfielder role will be Scott McTominay (22), Matic will back him up but like Fred he has the potential to grab is spot.

The central attacking midfielder role could be a real problem for Solskjaer with few natural options. Juan Mata (31) is likely the best selection, but Andreas Pereira (23) might be a better player if given the chance. In an ideal situation this player would be a natural goal scorer, but the available players will likely lean more towards facilitating the offense to the center forward or providing a vital link between Pogba and the forwards.

Best Player : Paul Pogba


Will Pogba spend more time on the field or posting on Instagram?

Forwards
After shipping out Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez the forwards on hand appear a little threadbare. The only player added to this group was Daniel James (21) and he is likely a player meant for future success rather than immediate playing time. That doesn’t mean he doesn’t have a path to the starting lineup, all it would take is a poor run of form or an injury from Anthony Martial (23) and Solskjaer won’t have many options left. Jesse Lingard (26) has been written off by many people, but he’s United’s only RW heading into the season. This may be his last chance for the Red Devils and RW may be a position Solskjaer looks to spend money on a better backup option, if nobody comes in Tahith Chong (19) might be forced up from the U-23 squad.

Marcus Rashford (21) is now the top man at center forward, after a brutal run with Jose Mourinho he had a spectacular run at the beginning of Solskjaer’s tenure last year. If Rashford can keep it up he will make people forget about Lukaku and give United the scoring threat they desperately need. The biggest knock here is issues scoring from open play, so the risk of long streaks without a goal could plague the offense. Rashford certainly has the speed to beat most back lines, but it isn’t clear yet if he can thrive on his own and develop into a striker with a killer instinct. Martial might fill in at CF if Rashford needs a rest, Mason Greenwood (17) is also an option but he’s more suited for the U-23 squad right now.

Best Player : Marcus Rashford
Great insight into the team there. Looking forward to seeing how things fair. If things go remotely as well as they did for you in Eindhoven, United will be onto a winner fairly quickly.
Great start to this! Looking forward to seeing how it goes
They really are rubbish up front aren't they...
Selling Pogba could allow for a full rebuild around a few good youngsters like AWB, Rashford and Greenwood. However, likely or unlikely that is there is a few areas that need a very big upgrade.

TRIP TO CHINA PREPS FOR LOW-KEY RUN OF FRIENDLY FIXTURES

United’s activities started with a pre-season training camp in China. For ten days the city of Beijing was experiencing Red Devil fever as United continued to build on its commercial presence in Asia, it also presented a great opportunity for Solskjaer to set the tone for the rest of the season.


United were well received in Beijing.

Friendly (A) : PAOK 1 - Manchester United 4
Friendly (A) : Aldershot Town 1 - Manchester United 4
Friendly (H) : Manchester United 2 - Porto 1
Friendly (A) : Bayern Munich 1 - Manchester United 0
Friendly (A) : Atlético Baleares 1 - Manchester United 2

The biggest story of the pre-season, outside of the trip to China, was the dramatic fall of Juan Mata as two major transfers kicked him from the starting CAM to a valuable bench player. Andreas Periera remained a firm second choice and got to show his potential in solid performances before being rested with a slight thigh injury. With the Premier League opener looming Solskjaer chose to rest the senior squad and send out the U-23 side to face Atlético Baleares for a close win.


Mata's place in the side is in flux.
I am sure he would be upset... at least we know what the ... Mata... is
Intrigued to see who you've brought in. A decent pre-season, but we obviously can't read into the results too much.

UNITED SPEND MODERATELY AS TRANSFER WINDOW SLAMS SHUT

It wouldn’t be a transfer window without United making a headline grabbing purchase, but the earlier purchase of Harry Maguire for £80M left “only” £100M to work with. For once Ed Woodward made some under the radar signings with an eye to the future at Solskjaer’s request.

The drama anyone would expect from United came after the board blocked a £35.5M transfer of CAM Lorenzo Pellegrini from AS Roma. The board closed the transfer down over the perceived value of Pellegrini, even though it met his release clause and he’s arguably an excellent player that would seriously upgrade the CAM position. Juan Mata would only be safe for a week when a deal for Sporting CP’s Bruno Fernandes was announced, this time the board did not block the move. Fernandes’ signing kicked Mata to the bench and put a bow on a transfer many have suggested for over a year.


Fernandes has a firm grip on the CAM position.

Nemanja Matic would be sold to Leicester with Timothy Fosu-Mensah seen as his replacement, but damaged ankle ligaments would hold him out 3-4 months. Solskjaer would continue his streak of luck as Matic would reject his contract offer from Leicester and remain at the club.

Senior / Major Transfers (Out)
Marcos Rojo (CB, Wolves) £12.5M

Senior Transfers (In)
Bruno Fernandes (CM, Sporting CP) £38.5M

Final Transfer List (Impact Signings)
Ryan Gravenberch (CM, Ajax) £18M
Lucas Lourenço (CAM, Santos) £17.75
Antonio Marin (LW, Dinamo Zagreb) £5.5M

While Gravenberch is a youth player he might be a first team selection as soon as next year. The uncertainty around Paul Pogba also makes finding a replacement a priority, Gravenberch has that kind of upside and a quick turnaround to loan him to Swansea puts him in a position for solid playing time in the Premier League.


If Pogba leaves this year or next, Gravenberch has the potential to take his place.

Lucas Lourenço ended up being stuck due to a work permit issues, at (18) he hasn’t played enough international football yet and United were unwilling to pay him an eye watering sum to buy his way onto the roster. Luckily he would be sent out on loan to Danish side Esbjerg, a move he was promised upon signing, and next year he will likely have an easier time playing for United.
The signing of Bruno Fernandes will bring smiles to the faces of United fans. An excellent signing for a relatively bargain sum in today's market for a player of his qualities. It's just a shame you were unable to accompany his signature (and the three young player's) with Matic's departure to Leicester.

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