Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Manchester United has done exceptionally well to turnaround the season on its toes. They have hardly been a part of top four teams in the table but ended up in the third spot, behind Liverpool and Manchester City. The final day win against Leicester City has pushed them and Chelsea into the top four and straight into the Champions League for next year. Here are the five moments to recap for United in Premier League 2020:
Amazing Recruitment Policy
The recruitment policy of Manchester United has been apathetic for years. Ole said from Day 1 that only those players would be signed who aspire to come to Old Trafford. Keeping this in cognizance, Harry Maguire, Aaron Wan-Bisakka, and Daniel James were signed. Daniel James started at the speed of the rocket, but after scoring a few goals, he failed to find his feet. But Maguire and Wan-Bisakka continued their impressive performance. Especially, the signing of Aaron Wan-Bisakka has been exceptional. Easily, he is one of the best performers for United this season.
The signing of Bruno Fernandes changed the whole outlook. Odion Ighalo was signed on the deadline day, and it proved to be a masterstroke. It seems like the policy to sign new players have been successfully altered and that’s excellent news for the Reds.
A Very Poor Beginning
Manchester United did start with a bang, by thrashing Chelsea to a big 4-0 defeat, but after that, it was all downhill for the Reds. In the next two months, they lost against Crystal Palace and West Ham and managed just a draw against Wolves and Southampton. The months followed weren’t great either if not worse.
Losses against Newcastle United, AFC Bournemouth and Watford put the job of the manager on the line. But his record of not losing against Big six opponents in the season gave him a bit more time to strengthen his team. Till New Year, Manchester United just had 28 points from 19 games with a goal difference of mere 7. With Pogba also injured, it was all going downhill for the team but things changed and changed for real good.
A New Low
Inconsistency became the identity of Manchester United under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. Unable to get three points against teams like Sheffield United, Everton and Aston Villa late in the year, added tremendous pressure on the job of the manager as United languished around the mid-table. But two wins, against Manchester City and Tottenham, in as many days gave Solskjaer space to breathe.
Then comes January, where United hit a new nadir. A tough defeat against Liverpool followed by a humiliating home defeat from the hands of Burnley raised many voices that even after so many years of Sir Alex’s departure, United has failed to stand up. This defeat prompted the United’s board to venture into the transfer market and sign one of the best playmakers in the world currently, Bruno Fernandes. Destiny?
The February Blossom- Bruno Fernandes
The Portuguese artist joined the Reds on June 30th. Since then, United didn’t lose even a single Premier League game. Actually, in all the competitions they have featured since then, only Chelsea has been able to defeat them (FA Cup, semi-final). If the turnaround has been remarkable, it goes down to one man – Bruno Fernandes.
Far from needing time to settle in a new league, he did not only showed his remarkable talent but also took the performances of his teammates to a level above. In 14 games of Premier League, he has been directly involved in 15 goals, scoring 8 and assisting 7 times. Total involvements in goals are more than Jack Grealish and Alexandre Lacazette and just five less than Harry Kane and Riyad Mahrez. Considering he was involved in just 14 rather than the whole of 38 games, gives us a picture of how lethal he can be next season.
Partnership in the Making
Romelu Lukaku sold in the summer and a loan move for Alexis Sanchez left Manchester United and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer a lightweight in the attacking department. Solskjaer showed confidence in Anthony Martial by bestowing him the number nine jersey which was taken away by Jose Mourinho when Ibrahimovic arrived. Using the Frenchman as the upfront striker and Rashford as left-winger was also a decision which was not supported by everyone, yet the manager stuck to it.
After 38 league games, both the players have repaid the faith of their manager and fans by scoring 17 goals each. This is more than what Sergio Aguero netted and just a goal less than what Harry Kane and Sadio Mane scored this season. The pair has also brought the best out of each other by linking 7 times this season. Most by any Manchester United duo in the history. Can this be a start to one of the iconic partnerships for the future?