Manchester United enter this season as one of the most unpredictable teams in the Premier League.
Drama is guaranteed, but whether Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has done enough over the summer to rejuvenate his wearisome side remains anyone’s guess.
There’s been a radical shift in transfer policy from Ed Woodward’s usual ‘see a player, like a player, pay the value of a player…plus an extra £30m for the #bantz’ strategy.
Youth is on the agenda, but United must hope their new recruits hit the ground running. The Premier League – and their developing rivals – will show no mercy while the fresh crop attempts to blossom
RadioTimes.com has rounded up everything you need to know about Man Utd ahead of the 2019/20 season.
Some of these finishes ????
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) July 27, 2019
Where did Man Utd finish last season?
6th. A tale of three thirds.
The drab, cumbersome Jose Mourinho days wiped the smiles off player and fan faces alike so the obvious solution was to bring in a boy-faced club legend to bring back the exuberance.
Solskjaer instantly put his foot on the gas and his squad responded, unfortunately, they didn’t have enough in the tank to reach the Champions League promised land and must once again settle for the dingy diner of Europa League football.
Who is Man Utd’s key player?
Paul Pogba. This is an age where pundit opinions and stats website often marry up to form the basis of every Twitter-loving, stadium-avoiding fan’s opinion of a player.
In the case of Paul Pogba, the so-called experts and cold, hard facts have bolted in opposite directions.
You have pundits lining up their shots for a perceived lack of effort and frequent spells of anonymity, while the stats continually validate Pogba’s credentials as United’s main man.
In 2018/29, no outfield player in the United squad recorded more Premier League goals, assists, minutes, shots on target, fouls suffered, key passes and successful dribbles.
Accuse him of lacking heart, but it’s hard to deny he’s the heartbeat of this team.
Who is Man Utd’s biggest summer signing?
Aaron Wan-Bissaka (£49.5m). United are used to throwing around weighty eight-figure sums, just not on full-backs with one full season of professional football under his belt.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka represents a shift in policy at United, and while they paid a steep fee, if the Red Devils can extract a decade of service from their new man, he’ll have been more than worth the investment.
The 21-year-old has wowed fans during pre-season with a lesser-spotted ability in modern day full-backs. He can actually defend.
All too often marauding right-backs’ flaws are subsidised by attacking threat, but United needed a player who can patrol the entire flank, and they’ve got one.
Wan-Bissaka’s superb tackling displays have already caught the eye during United’s globe-trotting pre-season tour, and he has plenty of time yet to grow and make the position his own for years to come.
Who is Man Utd’s manager? Meet Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
It’s tough to take an accurate read on Solskjaer following his opening stint in the red-brick dugouts at Old Trafford.
The Jose Mourinho shackles slid off following his appointment but the rapid attacking style led to United running out of steam and spluttering over the line.
He will hope for a sustainable mid-ground in 2019/20, a sweet spot between attacking with intent before reaching the point of burnout by Christmas.
Whether he’s capable of achieving balance while continuing to rack up a steady flow of points is another matter.
Man Utd fixtures – The start
11th August: Chelsea (H)
19th August: Wolves (A)
24th August: Crystal Palace (H)
Man Utd fixtures – The run-in
2nd May: Crystal Palace (A)
9th May: West Ham (H)
17th May: Leicester (A)
The fans say…
SCOTT PATTERSON, THE REPUBLIK OF MANCUNIA
What is the mood like among fans going into 2019/20?
After last season’s dismal finish, we knew the club was going to have to show they meant business in the transfer window.
There had been talk of United employing a director of football, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer had repeatedly mentioned the need to get rid of some players and bring in new ones, but none of that has come in to fruition.
So while we’ve brought in a couple of decent players, especially after watching Aaron Wan-Bissaka in the pre-season, and De Gea is staying, but the mood among the fans isn’t particularly great.
United needed to sign top players at the start of the summer and give them a tour with the rest of the squad so we could hit the ground running.
Who will be your key player this season?
Paul Pogba, if he stays, and if he plays as well as fans hope he can.
On his day, he’s a game changer, but he hasn’t proven himself to be reliable enough over the course of an entire season.
Maybe that will change with faster players ahead of him to pick out.
David de Gea will also, as always, be vital to United finishing in the top four.
How big a role will Mason Greenwood and Tahith Chong play in the upcoming season – and which other youngsters could break through?
Both players, especially Greenwood, should get playing time this season.
It’s unlikely they will be regular starters but Solskjaer will give them opportunities so if they impress they will get to keep their place in the team.
Greenwood’s goalscoring record in the academy teams was incredible last season so it’ll be interesting to see if that can translate to first team goals too.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer got United flying along at first before fading badly. Which United are you expecting to see at the start of 2019/20?
United’s players weren’t fit enough to keep up with Solskjaer’s style of play.
According to reports, the intensity during this summer’s pre-season tour is much improved, which should, theoretically, mean they can perform at that higher standard from his opening couple of months for longer. We’ll see.
Alexis Sanchez hasn’t made much of an impact at Old Trafford but he looks set to stay. Can he rediscover his best form and salvage his career at United?
I think Sanchez is done. He served a purpose in setting up all three of United’s goals in the comeback at the Etihad the season before last, to deny them the bragging rights of winning the league against us, and that was about as good as it got. Complete waste of time and money otherwise.
Where will you finish in the Premier League?
Where will Man Utd finish? RadioTimes.com says…
Once the transfer window closes, United are likely to boast a strong starting XI on paper.
The lack of top quality depth is a concern but that could open the door for more academy youngsters to step up and stake their claim.
So much hinges on Paul Pogba’s ability to load the gun and Marcus Rashford to make the bullets count.
United are taking steps in the right direction but they may still require another season of rebuilding and development to see a return to the top four.