Manchester United’s 2020/21 season was certainly a period of much tumult and chaos, although an optimistic view will certainly garner a lot of hope from it. As such, the anti-Glazer sentiment has to be highlighted as hope for any progress in the season to come and the promised changes and alleged dialogue needs to materialize into sound and trusted investments.
Keeping this in mind, there are key areas where the Red Devils ought to make changes ahead of the start of the next campaign if Ole Gunnar Solskjær and company are to make concrete attempts in the Premier League and Champions League.
1. Sort Out Deadwood and Surplus
Prior to addressing the absence of adept players, United must be deft and ruthless in dealing with the issue of talent who take a huge chunk of the wage bill without really fitting into the manager’s tactical plans.
Chief here is to find a pragmatic solution to the goalkeeping situation. While it is unfair to peg the blame entirely on David De Gea for the Europa League final loss, the display does emphasize a larger picture of fallout in the department. Giving Dean Henderson the nod for regular appearances, thus, becomes the go-to norm. Likewise, the much-awaited release of Sergio Romero is also pending. In this regard, the recent murmurs about a potential move for Atletico Madrid’s Jan Oblak does seem intriguing.
Further, Phil Jones is a long-pending defender to be either sold or loaned out. Moreover, there is also a strong case to be made for bidding farewell to veterans who have done their bit for the club over the years and now ought to be let go in order to make way for fresh legs. Juan Mata is the obvious candidate in that regard and while a similar case can be made for Nemanja Matic, the latter fulfils a vital tactical niche, for now.
Lastly, the club will have to be effective in dealing with their youngsters in a deft manner. Promoting them is vital, as is utilizing them as crucial tools of rotation for domestic outings, but adequate loan moves for optimum progression also has to be considered.
2. Sensible Redressal of Issues
Apart from position-based investments which the Red Devils need to make, the club must also address core issues that are keeping them from making a broad impact in key games.
Chief amongst these is the absence of a free-kick specialist and, in general, seeking a go-to threat from set-pieces. While Marcus Rashford and Bruno Fernandes have shown occasional glimmers in this regard, the club ought to do more in order to have a regular source of goals in this respect. As such, this tendency ought to be prioritized while making investments.
Likewise, Harry Maguire alone cannot be expected to head in goals from corners and Luke Shaw’s delivery on its own ought not to be the source of potential threat. Thus, a physically imposing talent and a deft deliverer of balls, both from corners and through crosses, can be sought out.
3. Positional Investments
Lastly, the club should do what they have been putting off for years now. The purchase of Amad Diallo finally granted them a proper right-winger but it is of some sense to go for a more experienced name in that position as well. In this respect, as a general transfer policy, the Glazers ought to pursue is avoid signing big name talent for heaps of money that can reap rewards in marketing, shirt sales, and brand value, and instead target multiple players for smart purchases who can aid squad depth.
Likewise, the late injury to Harry Maguire illustrated just how leaky United’s backline can get and how over-reliant they are on the captain. The Liverpool disaster from this season gave another example of how multiple injuries to defenders can do more damage in the course of the whole season than to attacking players, which United have experience about.
As such, an apt and experienced centre-back to partner Maguire and give competition to Lindelof and the injury-prone Eric Bailly is a must. The same can be argued in midfield too with the Fred-Scott McTominay pivot needing another potential replacement that does not involve Paul Pogba or Donny van de Beek.
In that same line, the Dutchman needs to be accorded his apt place in the lineup this campaign, either to rotate Fernandes and give him rest or as a positional brilliance on its own.
Lastly, the Mancunian giants would benefit from using this season as a stop-gap investment for their strikers. Edinson Cavani’s extension can certainly pave the way to transition Mason Greenwood to be utilized as a natural figure in that position while Anthony Martial can be given a final chance to prove himself. In that regard, a solid big-name striker acquisition can be delayed until the winter if not next summer.
All in all, the season ahead holds much promise and can arguably be the best chance for the Red Devils to reinject themselves into the title race, akin to how they did fleetingly this campaign.