While many fans have been angry with Man Utd’s performances and the current season, I think there are many more things to be happy/optimistic about than there are to be worried upon.
While Man Utd will not be winning the Premier League for the fifth season in a row since Sir Alex left, but they are on course to finish second above Liverpool, which is far from a disappointing season. That is because their final positions since the 12/13 season have been – 7, 4, 5 and 6 (in order).
Also, they have had a pretty good UCL group stage, accumulating 15 points from 18 possible and progressing to the RO16 and also progressing to the 5th round of the FA cup. Hence, their season cannot be judged as a failure just yet. They still have got a great chance of winning silverware apart from the league. If they manage to finish as quarter/semi finalists in the UCL, it would be deemed as progress for the time being. And at the moment any progress should be welcomed.
The only failure they have faced this season was in the EFL Cup, when they were shockingly knocked out by minnows Bristol City, a defeat which could well have been avoided. Other than that, there have been a few losses/draw which should have not happened if not for some stupid defensive screw ups. Like: Huddersfield (A), Man City (H), Spurs (A), Newcastle Utd (A) and Leicester City (A).
But every season these couple of avoidable losses do occur even to the eventual league winners, but in Utd’s defence the main reason that there is a 16 point gap between them and Man City is because City have been on another level this season, smashing teams for fun. With current points Utd would have been at top or within 5 points from the leaders in any of the previous 9-10 seasons. Current season does not reflect that Man Utd are playing bad but that City are too good.
Mourinho, as we know him, will not lose the battle to his old counterpart Pep Guardiola so easily, as he surely is planning for the next season and the next Summer Transfer Window. Man Utd will look to strengthen their midfield and definitely their defense having stated the reasons above. They have already strengthened their attack with the accusation of Alexis Sanchez from Arsenal. Even though Mourinho has ruled out any more attacking signings, but you may never know if they sign another marquee attacker given their financial power.
Man Utd need a defensive revamp. In their current squad they have 10 defenders (excluding youngsters) and within those 10 as much as 4 players can be and should be replaced if they want to win silverware next season. Players like Smalling, Blind and Darmian aren’t Champions League quality players. They don’t have the quality to represent Utd’s defense which once boasted players like Vidic, Ferdinand, Evra, the Neville brothers, Stamp, and many more.
Some may argue that even Jones and Rojo should be sold but they are good defenders and for Jones, he is Utd’s best defender when fit. Hence, these two can be trusted upon for now. Bailly, Lindelof and Shaw are quite young to be given the burden to lead Utd’s defense which they will eventually in the future.
Talking about full backs, neither Young (LB) nor Valencia (RB) who are their regular starters, are natural defenders. Both are wingers turned defenders. And both of them are on the wrong side of 30 now. So Man Utd need to look for replacements in these two positions too. But for now, they need to buy 2 CBs, 1 LB and 1 RB. They need experience at the heart of the defense, which has been seriously lacking in the last few years.
They also need to strengthen their midfield. With Carrick retiring at the end of the season and Fellaini likely to leave, they will be left with just Pogba, Matic and Herrera as first team midfielders. They must get a back up playmaker or recall Andreas Pereira, and get a player who is great at the ball, or a regista, who will go straight into the starting line-up. He should be able to spray out passes everywhere on the field, be quick with ball on his feet. He must have a great vision, passing abilities, good tackling, strength and stamina. This kind player will be crucial to unleash Pogba’s full attacking abilities and make Man Utd serious title contenders.
Potential and hopes for next season:
Man Utd have shown great potential at times this season. They have scored 4 goals in a single match multiple times this season, which does show their attacking abilities. With the accusation of Sanchez and timely recovery of Zlatan things will only get better. They just need to be consistent and a bit more unpredictable. The fact that they boast the best defense in the premier league with least goals conceded cannot be overlooked. It shows that they are good but some defensive errors by specific players cost them the points they deserve. This needs to be rectified by bringing in great replacements and making the right moves in the transfer market.
All in all, Man Utd’s hopes for the league this season may be gone, but certainly not for the next season. But to achieve that they must sort out the problems in the current squad. They are not having the best season and but certainly have made progress and in positive direction only ad their hopes for the next season are high.