It’s been over 12 weeks since the Europa League final and I think we’d all agree we’d all rather lock those memories tightly in a box and throw away the key. It wasn’t the end to the 2020/21 season we’d all hoped for.
Since then, we’ve enjoyed a summer full of England dreams coming true, two brand new additions to the team and a whole lot of transfer shocks, drama and rumours.
But with just three days to go until the 2021/22 season kicks off with a home match against Leeds, in front of a packed Old Trafford stadium, what does this season hold for Ole and the Reds?
The end of last season showed we were crying out for a new centre back, a creative powerhouse on the right wing and a midfielder. With two out of three of those positions filled and a couple more weeks left in the summer transfer window, could we go all the way?
Despite the progression, there are still areas to improve on – both individually and as a team.
Here are my thoughts on individual players (from last season’s starting XI) and the aspects of their game I’d like to see them work on in order to lead us to title 21 this season.
David De Gea: I think we can all agree that after the suspenseful 12-penalty shootout during the Europa League final, De Gea needs to work on saving penalties in case we’re placed in that position again.
Luke Shaw: While Shaw drastically improved his defensive and attacking game last season, I would like to see him work on his throw ins. Last season he took a long time taking them, which drastically slowed down the play and often left the receiving player dispossessed.
Victor Lindelof: With the arrival of Varane, it’s more than likely that we’ll be seeing less of Lindelof this season. Despite that, he has his strengths in reading the game well and distributing long balls up the pitch. But when it comes to being aggressive one on one, he falls short. To compete against Varane, he needs to build on his physicality to become more dominant against opponents.
Harry Maguire: Maguire certainly grew into his captaincy role over the course of last season. His aerial ability is second to none, with 135 aerial battles won last season. However, he needs to start converting his winning headers in to goals (like we saw in the 4-0 pre-season friendly against Everton).
Aaron Wan-Bissaka: While his one on one defensive skills are faultless, Wan-Bissaka still has some progress to make on his attacking game. Though he has shown some improvements, I’d like to see him put in more crosses in the final third and add more assists to his name.
Fred: Despite the ‘McFred’ criticism over the course of last season, Fred excelled in disrupting play in the midfield and providing some excellent passes which progressed to goals. As we enter the new season, I’d like to see him strengthen his crossing and passing accuracy and hopefully land his name on the score sheet again.
McTominay: We saw what damage McTominay can do when in the final third. So, this season, I’d like to see him be given the freedom to play in a box-to-box role to increase his goal tally.
Bruno Fernandes: For me, Bruno is one of a few players who has minimal aspects of his game that he could improve on. That being said, I’d like to see him cut down on the amount of yellow cards he’s given – in particular those given for arguing with the ref.
Paul Pogba: During the Euros we saw what Pogba is capable of while wearing a France shirt. In order to become a more rounded player at United, he needs to improve his defensive game while also cutting down the number of fouls he commits in crucial areas of the pitch.
Marcus Rashford: When he returns from surgery, I want to see Rashford get back to the basics. There were an uncountable number of times last season where he worked the ball up the pitch, stopped at a defender, tried to over complicate it and lost possession.
Mason Greenwood: With Rashford out for the opening couple of months of the season, it’s likely that Greenwood will have to step in. After a slow start to last season in terms of goals and assists, it would be great to see Greenwood rack up some more minutes and become a consistent goal scorer.
Edinson Cavani: Though there are few aspects of Cavani’s game that he needs to polish up on, I’d like to see him score more jaw-dropping goals like his 40-yard strike against Fulham at the end of the season. I mean, who wouldn’t want to see more of those, right?!
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer: While there are many positives to Ole’s managerial game, his reluctance to make substitutions early on in the second half of games is a huge weakness. Whether it be rotating the squad for cup games or making substitutions early on in order to make an impact on the pitch – Ole needs to start utilising his bench to maximise wins and increase our chances of lifting a trophy or two next May.
Last season was an unusual one. The pandemic disruption affected multiple Premier League teams in different ways in regards to injuries, covid infections and hectic schedules, which combined left us looking at some results and the final table and thinking ‘what went wrong there?’
That being said, here are my predictions for the top 4 at the end of the season:
It’s a critical season for Ole and his Reds this season. So, get ready, strap yourself in and enjoy the ride – I have a feeling it’s going to be one to remember!