Although the Champions League and the Europa League are in the final stages, football fans are already eagerly waiting for the next Premier League season to begin.
One team which will be in focus in 2020-21 are Manchester United. The Red Devils finished third in the Premier League, under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, in the recently-concluded Premier League season and will hence play in the Champions League next term.
Since his arrival, Solskjaer has given the younger crop the freedom to play more freely. The 45-year-old is good at man-management and is helping the youngsters to polish their skills.
These are still early days to predict whether Manchester United might be a force to be reckoned with in the Premier League next season, but the team definitely looked more competitive since the turn of the year.
In 2018-19, Manchester United finished sixth in the Premier League and so, the third-place finish last season is definitely a step in the right direction. Since the time Sir Alex Ferguson called it a day, Manchester United haven’t won a Premier League title.
The Red Devils finished seventh in the 2013-14 season, fifth in 2015-16 and sixth in 2016-17 and 2018-19. So, the team played Champions League only when they finished third in 2014-15 and second in 2017-18.
But the present Manchester United team look different as compared to the sides that played in the above mentioned seasons.
The current side have a mixture of youth and experience which will help Ole Gunnar Solksjaer to pick the best playing eleven depending on the opposition’s game.
Forwards, Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial are combining well with Mason Greenwood, who has impressed everyone with his style of play this season. Greenwood possesses the skills to trouble the opposition with his speed and ability to pick gaps higher up the field.
The 18-year-old can’t be expected to be a match-winner week in, week out, keeping his age in mind but his presence will surely add intensity to the forward line. The youngster has got enough time to mould himself under Solskjaer.
Anthony Martial scored 17 goals in 32 Premier League games in 2019-20, along with providing seven assists. The Frenchman has also netted four goals in the Europa League so far.
While Marcus Rashford also scored 17 goals and set up eight more in 31 Premier League games, Greenwood has shown tremendous fluidity with his free-flowing runs and brilliant scoring abilities.
He netted 10 goals in 31 Premier League games while also scoring five in the Europa League. All three forwards are showing impressive results under Solskjaer.
In the middle of the park, Paul Pogba holds the key along with experienced pros Juan Mata and Nemanja Matic. Pogba has showcased his creativity with his fine footwork and quality finishes.
January signing Bruno Fernandes has been the difference maker and the Portuguese international will be a key figure next season as well.
In central defence, Harry Maguire and Victor Lindelof have looked firm, while right-back Aaron Wan-Bissaka is one of the best right-backs in the Premier League. The left-back spot is an area for concern as Luke Shaw hasn’t looked convincing at times.
After making it to the semi-finals of the League Cup and the FA Cup (where they were beaten by Manchester City and Chelsea respectively), Manchester United reached the last-four stage of the Europa League as well, following their 1-0 win over FC Copenhagen 1-0 in the quarter-finals.
Manchester United are now one of the favourites to win the continental competition and if it indeed happens, it will be a big boost for the side.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who already has a good knowledge of his squad, opted for different formations when Manchester United played against top-ranked clubs this season, and the same game plan might be repeated in the upcoming campaign.
It seems the youngsters are enjoying playing under him but it is up to Solskjaer to make them more consistent. Solskjaer also needs to work on the temperament of every player, especially the younger lot.
It will be a big challenge for him but the 47-year-old has the smartness and creativity to bring the glory days back to Old Trafford.