Man Utd Mid Season Review

Initial expectations

So far, United’s season  (like most seasons)  has been the habitual marriage of purple patches and abysmal from. Expectations were as follows, continue pushing on the momentum that barged Ole’s men over the champions league qualification line. Therefore expectations were plentiful, a continuation of the “lockdown form”, a run in the champions league, but most importantly, signings in numbers to build for a legitimate competing premier league side. The ambitions of the club were put well into contention BEFORE the season even started with the same seemingly uninspiring window (digressing from transfer conversation until that assessment). However this summer window was a crucial component on how we build and based on the reaction of Matt Judge and Ed Woodward, expectations were negative.

What’s often beautiful and egregious about the premier league is fan expectation is reactionary and fickle particularly in our fan base. This is completely fair in this instance, with opening day loss to Palace and Brighton away win BY THE SKIN OF OUR TEETH. I think the changing of the guard and mentality was the humiliating 6-1 defeat to Spurs at home (That I’ve personally erased from memory) In my opinion this was the catalyst of the “we can’t let it get worse than this” and imprinted a new mentality at United. We would then go on to lose only one more game against Arsenal (At home again where all of our 3 losses have come from at home) before going on a remarkable 13 game unbeaten run at the top
of the table.

What’s pleasing to see is the shift of mentality. Last year we would’ve dropped points versus Wolves, West Ham, Villa and Burnley and we only prided our top 6 record, but a flawless top 6 record doesn’t make you a competing team, so to see United grind results against the low block mid table teams shows a new resilience in the team. What was also emphasized last year was the gap between us and Liverpool so to leave a game at Anfield frustrated not to have collected all three points sums up improvement in the squad.

Best performers

In terms of best performers in the team, let’s just get Bruno Fernandes out of the way. The man has been maverick in the United midfield and the impact he’s had in the the culture of the club is parallel to Cantona. The narrative will always be he doesn’t show up against the big six but ……… we’ve never had an issue with the big six. Fernandes was brought in for pure creativity and to unlock low block defenses which he has did and 11 goals and 7 assists, somebody tell this man he’s a midfielder!!

The signing of Telles has only brought the best out of Luke Shaw, looking sharper and fitter, Luke Shaw levels remain from 1 st minute to 90th, output from Shaw we’ve never seen. Upon eye test he looks more assured on the ball as well as holding shape and BULLYING wingers. It’s also wonderful to see a return in consistency in David De Gea, Eric Bailly who’s arguably our best defender on his day and Paul Pogba who’s return to form off the back of Covid and a media manhunt is commendable.

Marcus Rashford’s entire G/A contributions in 2020 were terrifying and at 23 with better coaching his ceiling is limitless. Honorable mention is Maguire, the cons are he has a calamitous mistake in him every other game but if you watch our games start to finish he’s relatively solid at the back.


A tough underperformer to include is Mason Greenwood. This can be attributed to off the field factors, load managing his minutes, playing out of position and playing in front of AWB. It’s tough to ignore the fact Greenwood is playing with less confidence and gusto, with predictable movement and less risk taking compared to his contemporaries Foden and Saka. I hope to see an upturn in his form and back scoring on both feet.

My next is Martial who I’ve a different opinion towards. Almost reaching his prime now it’s been underwhelming despite seeing hints of potential. Maybe this is an outlier season (2 goals 3 assists) I don’t know, but evidently on the pitch he offers nothing going forward, back to goal (terrible hold up play at that), movement non existent and out of ideas. I think dropping him is required to get some reaction from him. Lastly is AWB. If we got a replacement right back for him or for competition I wouldn’t be mad. He clearly doesn’t have the facilities going forward( which is hilarious considering he was a winger at youth level) and just doesn’t have a defenders IQ, incapable of holding his shape in transition and marking. He has been often praised for his tackling and recovery, but I think he eliminates the need to recover and tackle with basic defending IQ. He has single handedly cost us games in my opinion.

How have signings performed

In terms of assessing signings Cavani initially a laughed at signing, has displayed true professionalism on the pitch with high work rate and shows up in the big games, would like to see him get more minutes. It’s hard to know if the VDB situation has been exacerbated, but the kid needs to be getting minutes. It is clear that the signing may have been United/Van Der Sar PR and Ole was frustrated missing out on Grealish, but VDB is a world class alternative who deserves better treatment. In his scarce minutes he’s showed world class positioning, movement and passing in the midfield which tells me he is a United player.
Telles has more than anything made Shaw look like a new signing, with Shaw crying out for competition he was granted it and it’s changed its mindset. Telles adds different dynamism to the team, but being honest Shaws improvement in every facet of his game has made Telles look redundant but good for competition. Pellistri looks like a prospect shining in the U23s and Diallo I know nothing about.

Ones to watch in the second half of the season

Ones to watch in the second half the season are the minutes and transition Diallo makes on English turf. Greenwood will inevitably improve. I hope to see Pellistri promoted to the first team and Mengi get minutes. Maybe we’ll see an upturn in Martials form like the second half of last season.

Rating the manager

Ole’s rating 6/10. He has the system United plays down to a T, but lacks in a plan B idea. Other elements that he needs to work on for me are his man management and load management of players ( we cant keep playing Bruno every game) we need more rotation and better use of substitutes if we want to remain challenging.

Where I think we’ll finish

From the end of January to March will show where we’re at for me. Games against Southampton at home are games we must pick up maximum points with
Chelsea and Arsenal away in that period. It will show if we’re legitimate or if it was another purple patch. I expect us to finish third with a higher points total as the squad has overall improved.

Thanks for reading!

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