Euro 2020 Special
 

Why Manchester United Can Win The Premier League This Season

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As another season of the Premier League is set to start, clubs across England have been busy in the transfer market, shaping their squads and figuring out the right combinations. Defending champions Manchester City look in pristine shape, especially with potential bids for Jack Grealish and Harry Kane. But before aiming for another treble next season, the Citizens have to be wary of an old nemesis shaking off its slumber right under their noses. Ole Gunnar Solskjær has slowly but surely transformed the team at Old Trafford, so much that the Red Devils can win the Premier League this season.

So in the latest of SBOTOP’s ongoing series taking a look at which clubs are capable of winning the Premier League title in 2021-22 before the actual season begins, here are three reasons why Manchester United are on that short list of top contenders:

SOLSKJAER’S TRANSFORMATION OF THE SQUAD

Since taking charge of affairs at the club in 2018, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has spent £400 million in the transfer market, the highest in the league. He added the likes of Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Harry Maguire, Bruno Fernandes and Edinson Cavani to the main lineup, apart from overseeing the promotions of Dean Henderson and Mason Greenwood. Add to those names the signings of Jadon Sancho and Raphael Varane this season, and Solskjaer’s United boast a completely new outlook from the one he inherited three years ago.

Despite the signings, criticisms have been labelled at Solskjaer for adopting a cautious approach to the game, especially with a weak defensive setup that led to surprise defeats during the season. But with the new signings, Solskjaer might try to shift to a more aggressive 4-3-3 setup, with Jadon Sancho joining Bruno Fernandes, Edinson Cavani and Marcus Rashford at the front. The club management’s confidence in the long-term strategy of the United veteran has led to a contract extension until 2024, and Solskjaer will be sure to see some results of the transformation he has overseen at Old Trafford.

A MIGHTY ATTACKING LINEUP

The Red Devils scored the second-highest number of goals last season, 73, which propelled them to a second-place finish in the league. Solskjaer’s preferred 4-2-3-1 setup has seen Bruno Fernandes starting behind Edinson Cavani – both can fluently attack straight at the post. Marcus Rashford scored 11 league goals from the left-wing position, effectively securing his spot, but an injury concern at the start of the season might see him left out of a few games.

The only concern for the Red Devils has been an equally effective right-winger, and Solskjaer has filled that void with the signing of Jadon Sancho from Borussia Dortmund on a five-year contract. Sancho’s ability to drift and retain possession of the ball in one-on-one encounters is especially noteworthy, as United’s other strikers usually need more space to net the ball. Manchester United are known for their quick and effective counter-attacking tactics, but the addition of Sancho will bring them the confidence to build more straightforward attacking plans.

STRENGTHENED DEFENCES

United’s downfall last season has been its defensive setup – the team conceded 44 goals, the highest among the top four – that significantly dented their chances of a shot at the title. But the signing of Raphael Varane has significantly bolstered their defence, as he will fit right into the centre-back role in the starting XI alongside Harry Maguire.

Harry Maguire’s ability to push forward into the midfield has been significantly constrained last season, as Victor Lindelof struggled to hold out on his own. Varane’s ability to win aerial duels and complete long passes affords Maguire the chance to push forward and play his more natural role. Varane’s signing would also mean Solskjaer can finally afford to let go of the defensive dual-pivot of Fred and Scott McTominay and shift to a more aggressive 4-3-3 setup.

COHESION IN THE SQUAD

After years of languishing in the Premier League, the Red Devils are hoping to light up Old Trafford once more. Solskjaer’s squad is more cohesive than the team has been in years, with players being given the opportunity to play in their more natural roles. The slow addition of depth to the squad gives players the time to rest when they have to and not worry about their replacements. In Jadon Sancho and Raphael Varane, the club has filled the two gaping voids in their otherwise strong team. The injury concern around Marcus Rashford would have been devastating just weeks ago, but now looks manageable.

Talented players, the right mix of youth and experience, Solskjaer’s strategies and a confident squad make Manchester United among the favourites to win the Premier League this season, and possibly a few more.