Jadon Sancho and Jack Grealish in, Paul Pogba out? How Manchester United can rival Liverpool and Manchester City for title next season

The last time Manchester United won the Premier League title, the world was an extremely different place.

Grand Theft Auto V had not yet been released, Nelson Mandela was still alive and One Direction were still a thing – a very big thing – when Sir Alex Ferguson’s men were crowned champions in May 2013.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is hoping to lead the Red Devils back to the title
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By the time the 2019/20 season draws to a close, the Red Devils will have watched bitter rivals Liverpool and Manchester City (three times) lift the famous trophy.

David Moyes, Louis van Gaal and Jose Mourinho tried, yet failed, to bring domestic success back to Old Trafford and the responsibility has now fallen to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

Before the Norwegian can entertain fantasies of parading the Premier League trophy in front of the Stretford End, there is the small matter of concluding the current season.

United are three points behind Chelsea, who currently hold the final Champions League spot, and just two points ahead of Wolves.

To get a seat at the top table of European football would put the Red Devils in pole position once the transfer market eventually opens – playing in the Champions League is crucial for attaracting the highest calibre of player.

So how can they leapfrog their rivals before the end of the current season and what do they need to do in order to become title challengers in 2020/21?

The world record signing of Harry Maguire has proved to be astute business
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Defensively, Manchester United are looking very solid since the additions of Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Harry Maguire.

United parted with around £130million to sign the pair from Crystal Palace and Leicester City respectively, and they have been much stronger as a result – keeping 20 clean sheets this season, three more than Liverpool and five more than Man City.

Of those clean sheets, 12 came after Christmas and only Paris Saint-Germain have kept more clean sheets in Europe’s top five leagues in all competitions.

In their last 10 games before football was suspended, United kept eight clean sheets in all competitions – their best run for two years.

They were unbeaten for those 10 games, representing their longest run without defeat for 12 months.

A 2-0 victory in the Manchester derby against Pep Guardiola’s rampant attacking force on March 8 saw the hosts restrict their neighbours to just four shots on target, despite conceding 73% of the ball.

Scott McTominay helped United to a 2-0 win over rivals City in the derby before lockdown
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Playing as a counter-attacking side against big teams tended to favour United under Solskjaer, they have beaten Manchester City three times this season and were the first team to take points off Liverpool.

The problem was breaking down turgid defences of teams who allowed them to simply have the ball, a problem which was solved by the arrival of Bruno Fernandes.

The Portugal international was directly involved in six goals (three goals, three assists) in eight matches following his arrival from Sporting CP in January.

United will play Tottenham Hotspur away from home in their first game back as part of ‘Project Restart’ and their defensive acumen will be once again be under scrutiny.

January signing Fernandes has proved to be integral to the upturn in Manchester United’s fortunes
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But games against Sheffield United (h), Norwich (a), Brighton (a) and Bournemouth (h) following their trip to north London will see their attacking credentials questioned once again.

Provided they can get Fernandes firing once again alongside Marcus Rashford and Paul Pogba following their injury woes, the Red Devils seemingly have a perfect run-in.

If Solskjaer can sneak into the top four this season, securing high-profile transfers will be drastically easier than if the club were competing in the Europa League once again.

With Chelsea already bringing Hakim Ziyech to the club and Kai Havertz and Timo Werner seemingly close to arriving at Stamford Bridge, the pressure will be on their Premier League rivals.

Marcus Rashford has returned from a back injury
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Man City’s European ban may well be overturned by the Court of Arbitration for Sport, but they are unlikely to learn their fate until next month (at the earliest).

And with Jurgen Klopp admitting the Reds do not have the financial capabilities to compete for the £53m signing of Werner, United have a chance to pounce.

Admittedly, the effects of COVID-19 will have tightened the purse strings at every Premier League club, but United have resources they can delve into.

According to ESPN, the club’s net debt now stands at £429.1m but they are also operating with cash reserves of £90.3m.

Borussia Dortmund star Jadon Sancho is still the club’s number one transfer target, with European football expert Christian Falk explaining how the club can snap up the England international.

He told Utdreport: “The €100m (£90m) number is a lower limit below which there is no negotiation at all – exactly how much is required is open negotiations.

“This transfer will only happen this summer if Sancho absolutely wants to leave and brings a club who pays the transfer fee.”

Sancho is still a priority transfer target for United
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Aston Villa captain Jack Grealish is also understood to be a priority target, especially if the Villans are relegated.

Dean Smith’s men are two points from safety and sit 18th in the table, meaning Grealish could well be available for a vastly reduced price.

Of course, this could mean the likely departures of several top earners at the club in order to facilitate the sort of summer spending spree which could springboard United into title contention.

Le10Sport claim super agent Mino Raiola has ‘touched base’ with Juventus over a potential return for Paul Pogba this summer.

The midfielder has never looked fully settled since returning to Old Trafford and it could well be best – long-term – for all parties if he does indeed move on.

United’s team for next season has the look of title contenders

While concluding the current season is the top priority for United, fans and players alike have several legitimate reasons to be optimistic about the future.

For the first time in years, the club have a direction and a philosophy they wish to adhere to and a manager willing to do whatever it takes to bring success back to M16.


By: Joe
Title: Jadon Sancho and Jack Grealish in, Paul Pogba out? How Manchester United can rival Liverpool and Manchester City for title next season
Sourced From: talksport.com/football/716291/sancho-grealish-pogba-transfer-news-man-united-title-liverpool-man-united/
Published Date: Sat, 13 Jun 2020 07:00:01 +0000