Always Look On The Bright Side of Life.

Or football, in this case.

So let’s focus on some of the few bright spots in what was otherwise a disastrous season for Manchester United.

  • Rasmus Højlund scored 16 goals in 42 appearances — an impressive return considering he missed nearly two months with injuries and rarely got consistent service from his midfielders and wingers. Going into the last weekend of the season, he had a better shot conversion rate than Erling Haaland, albeit with far fewer shot opportunities. Maybe that’s why his last two goals of the season have been mostly individual efforts — almost as if he decided “screw waiting for a pass that’s not going to come, I’ll do it myself.” If Erik ten Hag or whomever is manager next year can figure out how to generate more chances for Højlund, we might have our first Golden Boot candidate since Robin van Persie.
  • Kobbie Mainoo has been outstanding this year and looks to be a legitimate building block for the club moving forward. Central midfield has long been a problem for United — even during the latter Ferguson days. If Mainoo continues to develop, then he could be our next Roy Keane.
  • Alejandro Garnacho had his ups and downs this year, but he remains one of the few consistently dangerous attackers on the team. As with Højlund and Mainoo, if he continues to develop, he could be our best wing player since a young CR7.
  • Bruno Fernandes also had an up and down year — his first as skipper. But if there were any doubt about how important he is, look no further than the recent Crystal Palace and Arsenal matches that he missed. United looked completely clueless and toothless on attack without Fernandes, who finished tied for second in the league in big chances created alongside Kevin De Bruyne behind only Mo Salah. Signing him to a new contract should be a no-brainer. But nothing is a given with this club…
  • Diogo Dalot had a great season and staked his claim to being United’s Player of the Season. The Portuguese right back was the only consistent performer in the back four this season and was the only one who didn’t get hurt. He also added some great goals this year, including this belter against Sheffield United and the opener against Brighton in the last league match of the season.
  • Jadon Sancho played well and reminded people of his class while helping lead his team to the Champions Legaue final. Unfortunately, he was wearing Dortmund’s kit when doing this. At least he boosted his transfer value in the summer. (Mason Greenwood might be in demand too, meaning United could actually make some money off transfers this summer.)
  • We may not have had a lot of great goalscorers, but we scored a bunch of great goals! There was the aforementioned stunner from Dalot against Sheffield. There was Fernandes’ beautiful volley off a long-pass from Jonny Evans against Burnley. There was Fernandes’ long range effort against Galatasaray. There was Mainoo calling “game” against Wolves. There was Marcus Rashford’s lightning bolt against Man City that briefly gave us hope. There was Amad’s winner against Liverpool in the FA Cup that ended Jürgen Klopp’s hopes for a quadruple. Any one of those would have been a worthy winner of Goal of the Year. But, of course, they’ll all finish behind Garnacho’s beautiful overhead kick against Everton that will be a fixture of highlight reels for the rest of time. We may not have scored enough (-1 goal differential on the season in the league) or consistently, but when we did score, it sure looked good!

Other than that, there wasn’t much to be happy about this year. United finished eighth, its worst ever result in the league. We missed out on qualifying for Europe — failing to even make the UEFA Conference League. We can make the Europa League by winning the FA Cup next weekend — but let’s face it, that ain’t happening.

We can’t hold leads. We can’t shut teams down. We can’t consistently create chances on offense. We can’t keep players healthy. We can’t press consistently. We can’t get the ball to our best goal scorer. The guys we imported to give our team a winning mentality got old fast and the expensive young guys we bought have either underwhelmed or can’t stay healthy. Old Trafford is falling apart, Carrington needs to be upgraded. And the sporting director we hired from Newcastle still isn’t officially free from his old club which means we’ll probably have another summer of ten Hag (assuming he gets another chance) buying more of his old Eredivisie players.

Other than that, things are going great!

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