Manchester United are looking forward to the start of another year. 2021 has been one to forget for the Red Devils, with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer losing his job and Ralf Rangnick coming in. As it’s Christmas day, it’s now time to dig out our crystal ball and take a look at how the 20-time champions could look 12 months down the line.
Goalkeeper: De Gea
Earlier in the year, it seemed as though David De Gea was finished at United.
He’d lost his place to Dean Henderson towards the end of last season and, when played in the Europa League final, endured a nightmare evening at the office.
Yet ever since the start of the current season, De Gea has been back to his blockbuster best.
The 31-year-old has cut out the errors in his game, producing memorable performances against Wolves and Norwich to keep United in the race to secure Champions League football.
Defence: Wan-Bissaka, Varane, Maguire, Shaw
While Aaron Wan-Bissaka has endured a difficult year, the former Crystal Palace star is a better option than Diogo Dalot when operating at the peak of his powers.
And given the club paid £50million for him, they will want to give the right-back time to turn his dodgy form around.
Likewise, with Luke Shaw.
Though the England international has been replaced by Alex Telles for recent matches, partly due to injury, Shaw still has enough in his locker to regain the form that made him first-choice for club and country last season.
Raphael Varane and Harry Maguire, providing they stay fully fit, are likely to still be the club’s first-choice centre-back duo.
Midfield: Rice, Kamara, Fernandes
While United have regularly played Scott McTominay and Fred, both could find themselves on the bench in the coming months.
The Red Devils are interested in signing Boubacar Kamara, whose contract with Marseille expires at the end of the season.
And if Paul Pogba leaves at the end of the campaign, which looks likely, United may then try and snare Declan Rice as well.
Rice will be expensive, with West Ham wanting £100million for their prized asset amid his sensational form under David Moyes.
Yet United will feasibly try and bring him in, as well, and deploy both alongside Bruno Fernandes. Rangnick, by the time next December comes along, appears unlikely to still be the club’s manager.
Forwards: Sancho, Ronaldo, Haaland
While Mino Raiola recently snubbed United when listing the teams Erling Haaland could join, they’re still keen on the Borussia Dortmund star.
Both Rangnick, who is poised to move upstairs at the end of the current campaign, and John Murtough both feel he’d be a good asset for the club.
Given his goal record, that’s certainly a fair observation.
To accommodate Haaland, it’s possible Cristiano Ronaldo will be moved back out wide – especially with Marcus Rashford in such dire form on the left.
Jadon Sancho should be better in a year’s time, having struggled to shine since his summer move from Borussia Dortmund.
What else could happen?
All signs still point to Mauricio Pochettino one day being United manager, hence why we’ve opted for a 4-2-3-1 formation.
The PSG boss would happily move to back to the Premier League, especially with his family still living in England.
And while Rangnick hasn’t ruled out staying beyond his six-month contract, Pochettino is still the chosen one.
United could actually lose Ronaldo if they fail to qualify for the Champions League, with links to Real Madrid still existing.
Yet given the quality within the squad, they should scrape into the top four.
Manchester United have finally had some good news as Ralf Rangnick has a near fully-fit sqaud available to him for the next match.
United have had to postpone their last two games – agianst Brentford and Brighton – due to a Covid-19 outbreak in the club but all those who contracted the virus have now recovered and are available for Monday’s hopeful retrun to action against Newcastle United.
Raphael Varane and Edinson Cavani are also back after injury layoffs meaning Paul Pogba is the only absentee as he continues to recovery from a thigh injury.
“As you know, last week the last training session on Thursday, from there to today, we had eight few players and three goalkeepers and then we closed the training ground for four days in order to break the chain,” Rangnick said.
“And today was the third day of training this week, we started on Tuesday, we trained yesterday and today, and today we have 25 field players, so quite apart from Paul Pogba, he’s the only one who’s still missing out, everyone else is on board. The development of the last week is extremely positive.”
United have five players on their transfer shortlist, according to reports.
The Athletic say Ralf Rangnick is looking at Kieran Trippier, Tyler Adams, Declan Rice, Jude Bellingham and Erling Haaland next year.
Former Manchester United youngster Ravel Morrison has criticised interim manager Ralf Rangnick after he called for Premier League clubs to discuss the possibility of pulling out of featuring in the Carabao Cup.
Rangnick made the admission during his pre-match press conference on Thursday, looking ahead to Monday’s clash with Newcastle United at St James’ Park.
The German addressed the competition following several other Premier League managers expressing their concerns about the fixtures piling up and the turnaround times between matches becoming shorter and shorter.
Former defender Paul Parker believes Manchester United could find life difficult against Newcastle United at St James’ Park on Monday evening, insisting their struggles to retain possession will impact them.
United, who beat Newcastle 4-1 earlier in the season at Old Trafford, will travel to Tyneside looking to secure a fourth successive Premier League win for the first time this season, as well as a third league win in a row under interim manager Ralf Rangnick.
The experienced German coach has watched United record back-to-back 1-0 wins over Crystal Palace and Norwich City, respectively, in his first two league games at the helm, meaning he will be hoping to see them continue that trend against a Newcastle side who have won just one game in the league so far this term.
Manchester United attacking-midfielder Bruno Fernandes has admitted that he has already started his coaching course to help him achieve his ambition of stepping into the world of management once he retires from playing.
The Portugal international, who joined United almost two years ago from Portuguese heavyweights Sporting Lisbon, does not turn 28-years-old until next September, but he has already started laying the foundations for once he has called time on his playing career.
Fernandes, who has struggled for form in recent weeks, will be hoping to follow in the footsteps of a number of fellow countryman who have stepped into the world of management in the past, with the likes of Jose Mourinho, Andre Villas-Boas, Nuno Espirito Santo and former United assistant manager Carlos Queiroz having all made names for themselves down the years.
The Africa Cup of Nations kicks off next month with players from all over the world jetting to Cameroon to represent their country.
Manchester United will see Eric Bailly travel with Ivory Coast as they eye their third triumph in the competition. Although it was elation for the Ivorian defender, it was disappointment for Amad who missed out on the squad.
In the build-up to the tournament, there have been reports of a possible cancellation as COVID threatens to boil over once more.
The European Club Association (ECA) previously wrote to the Confederation of African Football (CAF) informing them there is ‘no intention’ to release African players for the four-week period.
Manchester City looks poised to help Ralf Rangnick quash rumours of possible outs ahead of the January transfer window, with the surprising stories seemingly coming to a halt.
According to Fabrizio Romano, Ferran Torres will complete his switch from the Etihad to Camp Nou in January for a move worth €65million (£55m), including add-ons.
The report claims that the 21-year-old will pen a five-year deal at Barcelona, making the Spain international Xavi’s first signing since his appointment amid the club’s well-documented financial ‘crisis’.
Spanish outlets, El Nacional and Mundo Deportivo had claimed that Mason Greenwood and Marcus Rashford were subject to interest from Barcelona. However, following Pep Guardiola’s latest winter hijacking, City has helped United keep its traditions.
The Manchester United website lists 38 players in the first-team section. Six are on loan, three have not played for the first-team all season and another three have not started a game.
Ralf Rangnick is roughly working with a 26-man squad and he still has not had Raphael Varane, Edinson Cavani or Paul Pogba available for selection. Phil Jones, Teden Mengi, and Amad are loanable next month while Juan Mata could seek an earlier departure than his contract’s June 30 expiry date.
United have a deliberately bloated squad to combat the pandemic. The Omicron variant has been described as a ‘storm, not a hurricane’ by the scientific adviser Andrew Hayward and the Thursday morning front pages cited two separate studies that concluded Omicron is less severe than the Delta variant.
Leeds United midfielder Kalvin Phillips has poured cold water on January transfer speculation, insisting he is happy at Elland Road and wants to sign an extension with the Whites.
The 26-year-old has come to the fore as an important player for Marcelo Bielsa’s side and saw his reputation skyrocket during the European Championship as Gareth Southgate’s side reached the final at Wembley.
Phillips has become of interest to many clubs around England and Europe, with Manchester United reported to be one of the interested parties.
It should be a source of embarrassment to English football that it is requiring managers renown from overseas to come to our game and talk sense about player welfare.
While English football is happy to plough on with the nonsensical idea of playing two cup competitions, holding two games in three days over Christmas and ignoring the obvious demand for five substitutions in the current climate, the rest of Europe long ago began to put the stars of the show first.
The latest Covid-19 outbreak has brought these issues back to the table and Manchester United’s interim manager Ralf Rangnick was the latest to raise them yesterday (Thursday).
Rangnick should pick up the phone to Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp if he wants to be told what banging your head against a brick wall feels like. Or listen to talkSPORT and the little Englander mentality of Jamie O’Hara.
Manchester United are ‘ready to pay’ the €75million release clause in Borussia Dortmund striker Erling Haaland’s contract in an attempt to lure him to Old Trafford.
That is according to a report by Sport Bild, as cited by Sport Witness, who claim that United are ready to make their move for the goalscoring sensation.
The Norway international, who has scored 19 goals in 16 appearances in all competitions, is a concrete target for United and, as reported by theManchester Evening News earlier this week, is a player that interim manager Ralf Rangnick is pushing to bring to Old Trafford.
For Manchester United and Ralf Rangnick, the recent Covid-19 outbreak that ripped its way through the first-team squad could not have come at a worse time.
On a three-game winning run in the Premier League, three games unbeaten under Rangnick and six games unbeaten in all competitions since sacking Ole Gunnar Solskjaer last month, the recent hiatus has threatened to derail the recent momentum and confidence that United have gained after a difficult period.
For Bruno Fernandes, however, it may not have been better timed.
The Portugal international, who joined United from Sporting Lisbon almost two years ago, has struggled for consistency this season, with his performances, particularly in recent weeks, a far cry from the usual standard he so often sets himself. He has scored just five goals in all competitions this term, but his assists tally of nine, six of which have come in the UEFA Champions League, does slightly atone for his lack of goals.