A Season In Review: Man United

In this series of 20 articles, we take a look back at the Premier League season, focusing on each team individually. We take a look at transfer window activity, managerial changes, and key points throughout the season.

Transfer Windows

Man United found themselves very busy in the transfer windows this season, in terms of outgoings and incomings. It was a season where the deadwood finally got cleared out, and United could freshen up the squad.

A plethora of players left on a free this season, including big names such as Pogba and Ronaldo, and other bit-part players from the last few seasons such as Cavani, Mata, Matic and Lingard.

Young goalkeeper Dean Henderson found himself heading out on loan to Premier League newcomers Nottingham Forest, and Alex Telles made the switch to Sevilla, also on loan.

There were still two more outgoings to go, as Eric Bailly made a permanent transfer to French side Marseille, and Pereira swapped Manchester for London, as he moved to fellow Premier League side Fulham.

With a big list of names leaving, it left a lot of space for United to invest into. Man United moved exciting winger Garnacho into their first-team squad from their U21s, whilst also bringing in Eriksen on a free transfer after he left Brentford.

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United utilised the loan market as Jack Butland arrived from Crystal Palace, Dubravka from Newcastle, Wout Weghorst from Burnley and Sabitzer from Bayern Munich. Tyrell Malacia joined on a permanent transfer from Feyenoord.

United then made 3 more signings, all for big money. Casemiro joined from Real Madrid to help bolster their midfield. The defence improved with the arrival of Lisandro Martinez, and Antony joined from Ajax to give United some flair on the wings.

It was a very good set of transfer windows for Man United, who finally managed to rid the club of some high-wage figures who did not perform, and instead have replaced them with players who will have to fight for their place in the first team. A very good window for them!

Key Games

United’s key game came quite early in the season. After a stumbling start to the Premier League, after being humiliated by Brentford and losing against Brighton on the opening day of the season, they had a massive game against one of their biggest rivals, Liverpool.

Ten Haag’s side had performed poorly in their first two games, and some of the players were not stepping up. Their only goal of the season had come from an Alexis MacAllister own goal. They then had to face Liverpool at Old Trafford.

The game overall was fairly even, and it made for an exciting game to watch. Two big sides going at each other from the start of the whistle.

United made their early dominance pay as they brushed Liverpool aside, taking the lead through Jadon Sancho after 16 minutes, and then doubling that lead through Rashford shortly after halftime.

Liverpool did hit back late on through Salah with 9 minutes to go, but United held firm for their first points of the season, and their first win in the league under Ten Haag. This result, and the football on display, demonstrated to everyone that the ideas Ten Haag had taught the squad were starting to click.

Cup Competitions

Carabao Cup

United entered the Carabao Cup in the third round, starting with a home tie against Aston Villa. The first half came and went with nothing of note happening. The game soon burst into life in the second half, however.

3 minutes after the restart, Villa took the lead through Ollie Watkins, but less than a minute later, United were level thanks to Martial. Villa took the lead for the second time just after the hour mark through a Dalot own goal, but United quickly responded again, as 6 minutes later, Rashford equalised.

United then took the game into their own hands, and took the lead for the first time, as Fernandes found the back of the net with 12 minutes to go. McTominay made sure of the result as he made it 4-2 in stoppage time.

United faced Burnley at Old Trafford in the fourth round, and recorded a very comfortable 2-0 win, restricting the away side to just one shot on target. United took the lead through Eriksen midway through the first half, as Rashford scored just after halftime to send United through to the quarter-finals.

United were given a third home tie, this time against League One side Charlton. They made short work of their lower-league opposition, as goals from Antony, and two from Rashford in second-half stoppage time, gave United a comfortable win in the end.

A semi-final, two-legged game against Nottingham Forest awaited Man United, with the away tie coming first. In what was a fairly even game, United gained the advantage through some smart finishing.

Rashford took the lead within 6 minutes of the game kicking off, and Weghorst gave the away side a commanding 2-0 lead just before halftime. Fernandes effectively ended the tie in the first leg, making it 3-0 with minutes left to play.

With a comfortable lead going into the second leg, United had one foot in the final already. They had a very comfortable first half, and scored twice in the second through Martial and Fred, sending United to the final with a 5-0 aggregate victory.

A final at Wembley against Newcastle awaited them, and United were bolstered by the news that Nick Pope would be unavailable for the game, after being sent off for handball a few days prior.

During the game, United restricted Newcastle to little. Newcastle dominated the game in terms of possession but only managed to register two shots on target compared to United’s 10.

United had one new boy and one old boy to thank for their victory in the final, as Casemiro opened the scoring after 33 minutes, with Rashford doubling that advantage 6 minutes later. The two goals were the only goals of the game, securing a trophy for United, and a trophy for Ten Haag in his first season.

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FA Cup

Man United entered the third round of the FA Cup with a home tie against Everton. Antony opened the scoring early, finding the back of the net within 4 minutes, but Everton hit back 10 minutes later through Coady, sending the teams in level at halftime.

Coady went from hero to villain as his own goal after halftime gave United the lead again, and Rashford made sure of the result late on with a dramatic 97th-minute penalty.

In the fourth round, United found themselves up against Championship side Reading, with the tie being played at Old Trafford. The first half served absolutely nothing towards the game, as it was goalless at halftime.

Two goals in 4 minutes from Casemiro gave United the lead shortly after halftime, and in the 65th minute, United’s job became even easier as Andy Carroll got sent off for Reading. A minute later Fred made it 3-0 to the hosts, whilst Reading pulled one back a few minutes later through Mbengue.

Another home tie for United, this time in the fifth round against West Ham. In what was a very even game, the two teams went in at halftime goalless again. The game exploded into life in the second half, as Benrahma gave West Ham the lead 9 minutes after the restart.

United hit back late on, as Aguerd scored on his own goal with 13 minutes to go to level the scores, Garnacho, dramatically, gave United the lead in the 90th minute, and Fred completed the turnaround in the 95th minute, handing United a 3-1 win.

United made it a full run of home games in the FA Cup, with a quarter-final against Fulham. Another game where both sides went in a half-time with the scores at 0-0. Mitrovic gave Fulham the lead 5 minutes after the restart, giving the away side a surprise lead.

Fulham then imploded. A shot from Sancho got blocked on the line by Willian, and the referee got told to check the pitch side monitor for a potential handball. Whilst the checks were ongoing, the Fulham manager got sent to the stands after being sent off.

As the referee made his way across the pitch to deliver his verdict, Mitrovic kept pushing the referee, resulting in him receiving a straight red card. United were awarded a penalty, and Willian was sent off the blocking a shot illegally, leaving Fulham with no manager, 9 men on the pitch, and a penalty to save.

Fernandes stepped up and dispatched the penalty to level the scores, and 2 minutes later Sabitzer gave United the lead, to complete a dramatic turnaround. Fernandes then scored in the 96th minute to make it 3-1, a very familiar scoreline for United throughout their FA Cup campaign.

A dramatic win in the quarter-finals was not matched by their semi-final game. United found themselves being drawn against Brighton with the game being played at Wembley. After an even 120 minutes of football, the tie went to penalties.

Both sides completed their first 5 penalties with no misses. Adam Webster and Wout Weghorst stepped up to make it 6-6. Solly March was the unlucky player to miss their penalty, as United won 7-6 on penalties, and found themselves in their second final of the season.

United found themselves back at Wembley, this time against their closest rivals, Man City. The game did not start well for United as City took the lead within the first minute through Gundogan.

Despite being battered for the first half an hour, United did hit back through a Fernandes penalty, levelling the scores. United were much improved after that goal and looked a lot more confident going forward.

It was not meant to be, however, as Gundogan got his second of the game shortly after halftime, handing the blue side of Manchester victory in the cup final.

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Europa League

Man United entered the Europa League group stage after finishing 6th last season. They were drawn in a group against Spanish side Real Sociedad, Moldovan side Sheriff Tiraspol, and Cyprian side Omonia.

Their group stage did not get off to the best of starts, as they fell to a 1-0 defeat at home against Real Sociedad. The game was fairly even, and the game settled itself just before the hour mark. The Spanish side was awarded a penalty, which Brais Mendez dispatched, condemning United to defeat.

They then travelled to face Sheriff Tiraspol, where they won 2-0 courtesy of goals from Sancho and a Ronaldo penalty in the first half, to give them a comfortable victory.

United were made to work hard during their visit to Omonia. The home side took a surprise lead in the 34th minute through Karim Ansarifard, but United hit back in the second half through Rashford and Martial to give them a 2-1 lead.

Rashford made it 3-1 with 6 minutes to play, but Omonia reduced that deficit a minute later. United saw out the game as they recorded a tight 3-2 win.

The home game against Omonia was next, and it was just as tight as the reverse fixture. United dominated the game and restricted the hosts to just one shot on target, compared to United’s 13 shots on target from 34.

Omonia held United back but ultimately had their hearts broken when McTominay scored the winner in the 94th minute, winning the game 1-0.

Sheriff Tiraspol visited Old Trafford next, and United made light work of the Moldovan side. A first-half goal from Dalot gave United the lead, whilst second-half goals from Rashford and Ronaldo gave United a comfortable 3-0 win.

Their last group stage game was away against Real Sociedad. The game was settled by a single goal, coming from United youngster Garnacho early in the first half. The result left United second in the table, on goal difference, meaning they had to play in the knockout round playoff.

They were drawn against Spanish giants Barcelona, presenting United with a huge test if they wanted to progress further into the competition.

United performed admirably in the first leg away from home. They fell behind 5 minutes into the second half thanks to Marcos Alonso, but they soon hit back. Rashford equalised 2 minutes later, before Jules Kounde gave United the lead, after putting through his own net with half an hour to play.

There was still time for more drama, as Raphinha equalised for Barcelona, sending both sides into the second leg with a 2-2 draw.

In the second leg, Lewandowski scored a penalty in the opening 20 minutes to give Barcelona the lead on the night, and on aggregate. United hit back in the second half, as two minutes after the restart, Fred equalised, before Antony scored in the 73rd minute, sending United through to the knockout stages after winning 4-3 on aggregate.

Their reward for knocking out Barcelona was a round of 16 games against another Spanish side, this time Real Betis. United demolished Betis in the first leg. Rashford gave the hosts the lead after 6 minutes, but Ayoze Perez sent the sides in at half-time level.

2 goals in 6 minutes from Antony and Fernandes gave United a 3-1 lead, before Weghorst added some gloss 8 minutes before full-time, sending United into the reverse fixture with a commanding 4-1 lead.

United played it safe in the second leg and kept it tight as well. They won 1-0 courtesy of a second-half Rashford goal, as they comfortably progressed into the quarter-finals.

After beating their second Spanish side in the knockouts, they were presented with their third, as they were drawn against Sevilla. United looked good in the first leg, as they raced into a 2-0 lead, with both goals coming from Sabitzer before the half-hour mark.

United undid all their hard work, however, as late own goals from Tyrell Malacia and Harry Maguire meant that the scores were level at 2-2 going into the second leg.

After being brilliant for most of the first game, United were shocking in the second leg. They fell behind after 8 minutes when En-Nesyri found the back of the net, and Loic Bade made it 4-2 on aggregate 2 minutes after halftime. En-Nesyri had the last laugh, as his late goal condemned United to a 5-2 aggregate defeat, and sent them crashing out of the competition.

Season Overall

It is a hard one to call for United. Their transfer windows were amazing. The club could not really have done more. The signing of Wout Weghorst on loan raised some eyebrows, and in the end, I do not think the deal worked out. They should have looked at bringing a world-class striker in on a permanent basis if they thought they needed one.

It is a good sign for United that they won some silverware in Ten Haag’s first season. They performed well in the Carabao Cup and made it look fairly easy in the end. Their FA Cup journey was similar, but they could not get over that final hurdle, losing against City in the final.

Their Europa League campaign was disappointing. They did well to knock out Barcelona, and Sevilla are tough opponents, as they frequently win the competition, but they would have been hoping to make it much further.

This is why it is hard to predict whether United had a good season or not. They could have won 2 trophies and made it far in the Europa League, and instead, they won one, lost the final in the other, and got knocked out prematurely in the Europa League.

The signs are there for United fans to be excited. If Ten Haag is winning trophies whilst having players he does not want at the club, imagine what the team could be like after a few transfer windows under him.

Their challenge now is to start competing for the Premier League title again. Domestic trophies are all well and good, but they need to start competing with the likes of Liverpool and Man City again. These are exciting times for United, especially when their takeover gets sorted.

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