Last season saw Manchester United look like Manchester United for the first time in years, and 2020/21 promises so much more.
The Red Devils finished third in last season’s Premier League and unlike 2017/18 — when they finished second – they did this without needing a miracle campaign from their goalkeeper. Bruno Fernandes’ arrival energised the club in a way not seen for years, and suddenly all the players went from having a good season to a great one.
So far this summer the Red Devils have added Donny van de Beek to their ranks and, although they are also being linked with a left-back, they’ve not yet made a big signing in attack, despite also being linked with Jadon Sancho incessantly.
Man United’s first game of the season is postponed due to their Europa League adventure, so Ole has a bit of extra time to add to his side and get them ready. Will he be able to? How will Man United fare this season? Here are five predictions:
1. Will Sancho sign?
Everyone knows that Man United want Sancho. The deal looked to be ready to go until… it wasn’t. For unknown reasons, the Red Devils never came to an agreement over an acceptable transfer fee to procure the winger from Borussia Dortmund.
For their part, Dortmund set a date for when the transfer had to be completed by and that date came and went by with Man United not making any bids. Word is they would still sell for their asking price but all indications are that Man United will not pay, despite the overwhelming genius of Sancho’s game.
Now, we’ve been here before with Ed Woodward. The CEO of Man United often plays hardball when signing players, only to cave in and pay the asking price. Last year’s pursuit of Harry Maguire was a prime example of that, where Man United haggled all summer only to finally pay what Leicester wanted all along as the window wound down.
The same may happen this year as Man United’s resolve will crumble as the transfer deadline looms large. Ole knows that for the team to improve they need another attacking presence, a world-class dynamic threat just like Sancho, so he will be applying pressure to Woodward. And just like he has done many times previously, Woodward could end the window by cracking under said pressure and getting the chequebook out to bring Sancho to Old Trafford.
Jadon Sancho next club odds via William Hill*:
Man Utd: 4/6
Real Madrid: 16/1
Man City: 25/1
*You have to be 18+ to gamble. All odds and offers within this article are accurate at the time of writing (11:30, 08/09/2020). BeGambleAware.
2. A 20-goal season striker
Last season Man United had two 20-goal strikers for the season. Anthony Martial top-scored with 23 goals whilst Marcus Rashford was one behind on 22, validating Ole’s decision to sell Romelu Lukaku as the youngsters stepped up big time.
However, in the league both were tied on 17, which alright is one more than Lukaku’s best in a red shirt (16) but still not enough to challenge for the Golden Boot. In fact, no Man United player has scored more than 20 league goals in the post-Sir Alex Ferguson era. The last player to do was Robin van Persie who smacked 26 back in 2012/13.
That all changes this campaign. With an entire season of Fernandes and Paul Pogba working in concert as well as an entire season of being locked into a clear vision, not to mention the creativity of Sancho potentially around; one or both of Martial and Rashford (or maybe even Mason Greenwood) will score at least 20 goals in the 2020/21 Premier League season.
William Hill’s 2020/21 Man Utd top scorer favourites:
- Martial: 2/1
- Rashford: 9/4
- Bruno Fernandes: 10/3
- Greenwood: 4/1
- Van de Beek: 16/1
3. Beating the old enemy (at home)
For two seasons now, Liverpool have been one of the very best teams in the world, winning the Champions League and Premier League in that timeframe. For two seasons now, Liverpool have come to Old Trafford and played poorly, looking disjointed and afraid, and somehow escaped with a draw each time.
One of the biggest indicators of progress for Man United, one of the most powerful signs that this is a Red Devils side worth taking seriously, would be if they could meld all their other improvements with an actual win over their great rivals.
Yes, Man United beat them as recently as 2017/18, but that was a disjointed Man United side only days away from getting knocked out of the Champions League at home to Sevilla. They were riding the wave of David de Gea’s miracle season and there were few signs that what was being built was even sustainable, let alone something that could be improved upon.
Now, however? Now Man United look primed to make that leap; they just have to, well, leap! Outplaying a side but then not beating them is small team shenanigans, and that’s just not the level Man United aspire to be at. This is a step they have to take, and one they will.
4. Top Four but no Title
Man United will definitely improve this coming season, but it won’t necessarily show in the league table. The Red Devils will finish in the top flour slots, ensuring a return to the Champions League, but even if a win over Liverpool solidifies their mental focus and gives them new resolve, there is still too big of a gap for them to truly vault forward and challenge for the Premier League title.
The top two sides in the country are simply too good for everyone else. In 2019/20, City had a tremendously poor season by their standards and still ended up comfortably second. Even if that continues into 2020/21 or if Liverpool fall off, you would imagine there’s too much talent and title-winning know-how in those teams for them to drop-off that comprehensively.
But Man United will improve, and could secure a top four spot for next season even against the challenges of big-spenders Chelsea, Arsenal and others.
William Hill’s 2020/21 Premier League top four favourites:
- Man City – 1/33
- Liverpool – 1/12
- Chelsea – 2/5
- Man Utd – 4/9
- Arsenal – 5/2
5. Cup glory
In 2019/20, Man United made it to the semi-finals of all three cup competitions they entered. However, in those semis, they fell to defeat every time. For a club that prides itself on winning trophies, that is simply not good enough. And although the club would delight in seeing improvements in the style of play and league performances, they want trophies.
Whilst Man United won’t win the league the way they are set up, it is still kind of perfect for knockout football. They have several big game performers who like to shine under the bright lights, they have bags of pace to play searing counter-attacking football and with the likes of Fernandes, Pogba (and Sancho) they have the kind of overwhelming quality to just make the difference.
The result? Man United to win a cup in 2020/21? More likely to be the League or FA than European, for sure, but the Red Devils will end the season with some silverware in the cabinet. That win will galvanise all their other improvements into a powerful self-belief that 2021/22 could be the year they get back to the top of the mountain.
William Hill’s Man Utd trophy odds for 2020/21 season:
- League Cup & FA Cup: 40/1
- Premier League & FA Cup: 66/1
- Premier League & Champions League: 175/1
- Premier League, FA Cup & Champions League: 750/1
- No trophies: 1/6