Manchester United will be hoping to close the gap on fierce rivals Manchester City and Liverpool in 2022, but that will not be easy.
Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp have assembled two of the best teams in Europe that will take some catching.
Instead of being fixated on getting to the level required to compete with the league’s two most consistent sides, United have to focus on ourselves.
Here are three steps the Reds need to take to improve in 2022…
Settle on first choice back four
United will inevitably be a better side with the calming influence of Raphael Varane marshalling the backline, but in his absence, the Red Devils have looked shaky and vulnerable on too many occasions.
Harry Maguire’s form has been too up and down following his European Championship exploits and there are still question marks surrounding the reliability and quality of Victor Lindelof and Eric Bailly.
Since Ralf Rangnick was appointed as the club’s interim boss, all four of United’s senior full-backs have been given the opportunity to stake their claim.
But with David de Gea having to constantly reproduce match-winning performances to bail United out, it remains undetermined what our best back four combination actually is.
In order for us to climb the league and challenge for big honours, a settled, organised and consistent backline is paramount to our trophy hopes.
Sign a defensive midfielder
The summer of 2021 was undeniably a dream transfer window for Manchester United fans. The eagerly anticipated capture of Jadon Sancho, the dream signing of World Cup winner Varane and the emotional homecoming of serial winner Cristiano Ronaldo.
But there was a glaring omission which had once again been neglected, centre midfield.
For all of Fred and Scott McTominay’s battling and energetic qualities, a gaping hole is still evident in this United side.
We need a quality defensive midfield technician who can knit this side together and potentially be the final piece of a very talented jigsaw.
Amadou Haidara has been heavily linked with a move to the Theatre of Dreams given his prior connections with Rangnick.
With question marks surrounding Paul Pogba’s future, Nemanja Matic not the force he once was and Donny van de Beek struggling to rekindle his Ajax form, addressing the midfield problem has to be high on Rangnick’s priority list.
Ease goalscoring burden on Cristiano Ronaldo
Question marks were raised whether the all-time Portuguese great could still maintain his ridiculous goalscoring rate at the age of 36, back in England, but in typical Ronaldo fashion, he swats aside any criticism, and instead uses it as fuel to defy the doubters time and time again.
But the five-time Ballon d’Or needs help from his team mates. If it wasn’t for our number seven’s one-man rescue act in the Champions League, United’s season would be at risk of petering out at the halfway stage.
With 13 goals to his name across all competitions, Ronaldo is way out in front of the club’s goalscoring charts.
Bruno Fernandes and Mason Greenwood are United’s joint-second top scorer with six to their names.
Ronaldo will be 37 in February and although he continues to amaze with his levels of longevity and athleticism, United’s support cast needs to join the party.
With Edinson Cavani likely to leave in the summer and question marks surrounding the futures of Paul Pogba, Jesse Lingard and Anthony Martial, United could need attacking reinforcements.
If all four of the aforementioned players did leave in the space of six months, United could blow the rest of Europe out of the water if we secured the superstar signing of Erling Haaland.
Imagine Ronaldo and Haaland lining up alongside one and other in Rangnick’s 4-2-2-2 formation. That would be a mouth-watering prospect.
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