Manchester United enter 2021/22 with high hopes. But just how much can Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side achieve this season?
The season kick-off is just days away and it is time to make some bold predictions for the year ahead.
The point here is to be ambitious and not conservative. There is little ‘bold’ about predicting this squad of players win the Carabao Cup. Or tipping United to finish in the top four.
So let’s get to it. Here is a quite overly-positive look ahead to Manchester United’s upcoming campaign…
Champions League winners
Go big or go home. Manchester United should be aiming for Europe’s top prize next season.
United will surely land an easier group than last year. And Solskjaer’s side will be smarter, avoiding the errors which led to elimination.
Over the last two seasons under Solskjaer, United have been strong in European two-legged knockout rounds. The only games United have been beaten in at the knockout stage was a one-off semi-final and then a final.
Providing United can get through the group, United have a strong chance at going deeper, especially with teams like Real Madrid and Barcelona looking weaker than in previous seasons.
Chelsea won the trophy last year and deserve credit, but they are not a ‘better’ side than United. Solskjaer’s side finished ahead of Chelsea in the league and drew twice with the Blues. If they can do it, then United’s players should believe the same is achievable.
Four players to score 20 goals or more
If United are going to go all the way and win silverware, there will have to be plenty of outstanding individual seasons along the way. There could be as many as four players who score 20 goals or more next season.
The past two seasons United have had two. In 2019/20 Anthony Martial netted 23 and Marcus Rashford 22. Mason Greenwood trailed on 17.
In 2020/21, Bruno Fernandes netted 28 and Marcus Rashford 21. Edinson Cavani trailed on 17.
In total there are five players there who have scored 17 goals or more over the past two seasons, Martial, Rashford, Fernandes, Cavani, and Greenwood.
It is very possible four of them break the 20 goal mark next season in all competitions, aided by the creativity of Jadon Sancho.
And don’t forget Sancho scored 20 goals for Dortmund in 19/20 and 16 goals last season. He is more than capable of being one of the players who net 20 or more for United.
Best defensive record in the Premier League
Manchester United had the Premier League’s fifth best defensive record in 2020/21.
Not only was the 44 goals conceded behind City and Chelsea, it was worse than Arsenal, and Liverpool despite all their defensive injuries.
This season United intend to tighten up. A new set piece coach has been hired, and the signing of four-times Champions League winner Raphael Varane is expected to make a major difference.
United’s horrific start to last season admittedly skewed the record a little, with 11 conceded in the opening three games.
Expect the team to be far sharper this season. City’s record was the best with just 32 conceded in 38 matches. Next season expect an improved United to put up the best defensive record in the Premier League.
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