On the eve of the 2020/21 Premier League season, fans of all clubs will be looking forward with a sense of optimism, and some trepidation, as the new campaign gets underway. It’s been a strange – rather muted – transfer window for most clubs (with the exception of Chelsea), but there will nevertheless be renewed intrigue to see how teams cope with the late start to the season.
While every season feels pivotal for the top clubs, there is certainly going to be a lot of
interest in Manchester United. Of course, there is always interest in United – they are, after
all, one of the biggest clubs in world football. But, for reasons we will touch upon below, this
season feels pivotal for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s project. Here are five key questions fans
should be asking:
Can the Momentum of 2020 Be Maintained?
There was disappointment in the Europa League and FA Cup during the summer, but it’s
worth noting that United’s form from February through to July was arguably the best in the
Premier League. From the 1 st February until the season’s conclusion, no side took more
points than United, with the Red Devils scoring 30 and conceding just seven in that
sequence of 14 games. Yes, we can argue that the title race was over, but the form was
impressive. United are 12/1 to win the Premier League according to sports betting site, 888.
And those odds will start to look pretty generous if Solskjaer can keep the team at the level
achieved in the second half of last season.
Where Does Van De Beek Fit In?
The signing of Donny Van De Beek was surprising as the player operates in a position where
United already have plenty of options. If Van De Beek plays in a midfield three with Bruno
Fernandes and Paul Pogba, there might not be enough defensive cover. If he plays in a four-
man midfield, United miss the width and attacking threat offered by its front three of
Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and Mason Greenwood. It seems Van De Beek can play
as a defensive midfielder, but, few would suspect that’s the reason United bought him. Of
course, Paul Pogba might be headed for the exit door, and that would make sense. But we
will be intrigued to see the plan – if any – for the classy Dutchman.
Can Martial Reach the Next Level?
If you have followed Manchester United closely over the last nine months, then you’ll agree
that Bruno Fernandes has been the team’s best player. However, running him very, very
close has been Anthony Martial. The Frenchman, who has been good enough to work his
way back into Didier Deschamps’ plans for the national team, has been in scintillating form,
displaying the end product to match his massive potential. This feels like the season where
he could finally display his world-class talents consistently. Martial is a very, very good
player; he could be a great one.
Is Luke Shaw’s Time Up?
There are still a few weeks remaining in the transfer window, and most fans wouldn’t be
surprised to see United bring in a new left-back before the 5 th October deadline. This is
Shaw’s seventh consecutive season at the club, and he has not yet managed to make 100
league appearances for United. Yes, he has been unfortunate with injuries, but he is now 25
and should be at the peak of his powers. Man City and Liverpool have demonstrated that
world-class full-backs are needed to challenge for titles; Shaw falls short.
Who Will Finish The Season as United’s Number One?
With David De Gea, Dean Henderson and Sergio Romero to choose from, United have some of the best goalkeeping options in Europe. That might seem like a positive, but there is nevertheless a headache for Solskjaer with Henderson returning from a loan at Sheffield United to fight for his place. A couple of seasons ago, we would have said that De Gea was untouchable, but that doesn’t seem like the case any more. Aside from the mistakes, the Spaniard has made, his distribution lags behind peers like Ederson and Alisson Becker. Might Henderson dislodge him and claim his place as United’s – and England’s – number one?
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