There is no doubt that the 2018-19 season was an unforgettable one for Manchester United. The Red Devils ended the season outside of the Champions League places, were knocked out of the FA Cup by Wolverhampton Wanderers and were humbled home and away in the Champions League by Barcelona.
As the summer has progressed, there has been a growing sense of optimism that the club could be about to embark on a special journey under the stewardship of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
The Norwegian boss has been adamant that he wants to add young and hungry players to the squad, and already in pre-season; the style of play has been adapted to what the new manager wants. The arrivals of Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Daniel James have been useful additions so far. The full-back already was awarded man of the match accolades in two of the club’s pre-season games.
However, there is still a long way to go for this side to be considered title contenders. That’s not ignoring the steps that have been made. But the glaring holes in the middle of the team remain and need to be addressed quickly. But what should United be looking to do between now and the end of the transfer window to ensure that they have the best possible chance of achieving something this season?
- Tie Down David De Gea
David De Gea endured a difficult end to the 2018-19 season, but the questions surrounding his ability were way off the mark. The Spanish keeper remains one of the best in the world, and anything that United are building could quickly fall if they were to lose their shot-stopper. United fans who have questioned his abilities should look back at the four seasons prior.
The club would have achieved nothing if it wasn’t for De Gea. His talent in between the sticks ensured that United was able to finish inside the top four; despite playing a defensive line that should never be lining up for the club.
He has saved the club on countless occasions throughout his career at Old Trafford, and it should be treated with the urgency that he is handed a new deal- no matter his wage demands. This actually looks increasingly likely, which would be a boost for United fans that are dreaming of success under Solskjaer.
- Sign Harry Maguire
It is no secret that United need a central defender; the club has needed one ever since Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand left the club back in 2014. The combinations of Marcos Rojo, Phil Jones, Chris Smalling, and Eric Bailly haven’t been up to the standard that is required.
The Red Devils went after Harry Maguire last summer and should the board have trusted Jose Mourinho and pursued the move, then it could have been a different story. Maguire is within the top five central defenders in the Premier League, and aged just 26; he still has a long future ahead of him.
Granted, the £85 million that Leicester City is demanding is a price far too high. But United’s demand for this caliber of player means that they can ask for as high of a price as they wish.
- Sign Bruno Fernandes
The Portuguese star is precisely the type of player United need. Pre-season has already taught us that the Red Devils don’t have the kind of player that is needed to pass the ball through compact defensive lines. And with Sporting CP seeming resigned to losing the midfielder; United should do everything in their power to get the deal over the line.
Last season he scored 20 goals and made 13 assists in 33 appearances in the Portuguese Liga NOS. United don’t have any player within their ranks that can boast these kinds of stats. The Red Devils have looked to play Andreas Perriera, Fred and Jesse Lingard in the right-hand position besides Paul Pogba and Nemanja Matic.
Still, nobody has that eye for a pass that is needed. Fernandes fits that bill, and he also works tirelessly in getting the ball back. It would be a foolish waste if United lets this player moves elsewhere.
- Keep Paul Pogba
A lot has been made about the future of Paul Pogba, but the one thing that isn’t up for debate is his attitude. While players such as Antoine Griezmann and Laurent Koscielny have effectively gone on strike to force through a move, Pogba has happily traveled with the squad around the world and talk about his future has quietened in the process.
That could easily be down to the fact that Solskjaer has asked him for one more season, and that is important. The Frenchman is the best player in the United squad and keeping him is imperative.
Pogba has looked sharp throughout pre-season and although we say it every season; 2019-20 could be when we see the real midfielder in the red of Manchester United.
- Sell Romelu Lukaku
From what we have seen in pre-season so far; the new style of play being adopted by the Red Devils will not play to the strengths of Lukaku. It is partly a shame because Lukaku is a great striker. But, if he isn’t going to play week-in-week-out, then he should be sold instead of bringing squad morale down.
Where he goes is totally up for debate, with United looking unwilling to loosen their demands with Inter Milan. The Italian giants will need to at least match the fee that the Belgium international was signed for, or risk losing him to lead their line to another club.
The departure of the number nine is vital; not only for morale but because of the emergence of Mason Greenwood in pre-season. The 17-year-old has already scored two goals in the off-season, and his versatility across the front line has enabled Solksjaer to admit that the youngster may start on the opening day of the season.
His proven scoring record in the academy means that he has the eye for goal that is needed at United.
Also, his blistering pace and dribbling ability ensure that he will slot straight into this style of play. If used correctly, Greenwood could be the breakthrough player of the 2019-20 Premier League season.