Enough has been said about Manchester United’s poor run-in to the end of the season, including picking the bones out of that humiliating home defeat by Cardiff City in front of the Old Trafford faithful. But let’s stop the bellyaching for a moment and look at some of the positives for next season.
Let’s begin with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. We all knew in our heart of hearts that the honeymoon period had to come to an end. But it didn’t cease due to failings on Solskaer’s part. His appointment was enough to buoy the team up at the beginning and what deflated the side again was an old problem: the attitude of some of the so-called big-name stars, like Paul Pogba.
It was his slip-shod marking of Josh Murphy that allowed the Cardiff forward to sprint away from him at a simple throw-in. With all the room in the world, Murphy was able to pass the ball to Mendez Laing for a simple tap in that sealed the defeat. It was sheer negligence by the Frenchman.
Players like Pogba, Lukaku, and Sanchez all value themselves in higher esteem than the club they play for. Both Lukaku and Sanchez are guilty of falling massively short of what they can offer, while Pogba, despite his goals and assists, is often the source of fan discontent.
The good news is that the mood at board and managerial level has changed. Players who don’t perform will go, so Paul Pogba for example, may finally get his wish and move on to Real Madrid or Barcelona, both of which he has been linked with.
And instead of signing more established big names, the focus will be more on promising youngsters who are avidly keen to make their mark on football’s international stage.
More positive news in the same vein is that the Red Devil’s Academy is brimming with young talent. Tahith Chong (Reserves’ Player of the Year), James Garner (who has captained the England U18s), Andre Gomes and Mason Greenwood, have already seen a little first-team action. All four trained with the first team squad last week, as did Dylan Levitt and Arnaud Puigmal.
While United have missed out on qualification for next season’s Champions League, they will be in the Europa League. As well as giving fans some international action to feast their eyes on, it will also give their youngsters a chance to show what they’ve got at top level and the Red Devils could well qualify for the Champions League by winning the Europa.
There is also some excellent talent still within the squad. Victor Lindelof and Scott McTominay have impressed when given the opportunity. Luke Shaw (United’s player of the season) is back to his very best, and at 23 he has many years’ worth of classy full back talent to donate.
We mustn’t forget young Marcus Rashford either. He is still only 21 years old and having now been played a more central role in attack, rather than being stuck out on the wing, he has scored more goals than ever.
United have not yet appointed a Director of Football, but the good news is that they are going to do so. Paul Scholes is one name being bandied around. This new role is vitally important if the Red Devils are to become one of the most feared teams in the world, as they once were.
Also, the management team of head coach Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, assistant manager Mike Phelan and coach Michael Carrick, are well respected by fans and pundits alike and there can be no doubting their commitment to rebuilding and revitalising the team.
After what has been a season of mixed performances on the pitch, we all want to see United playing the sort of attacking football that they were renowned for. It is something that is in the heart of the manager, and has been at all the clubs he has played for. We have a lot to look forward to – so c’mon – let’s all look on the positives.