Manchester United Season Preview – 2021/2022

Manchester United head into the 2021/22 season with high hopes after a very successful summer transfer window.

United brought in:

  • Cristiano Ronaldo (£14.9)
  • Jadon Sancho (£74.9m)
  • Raphael Varane (£35.2m)
  • Tom Heaton (Free transfer)

United sold:

  • Daniel James (£25.6m)
  • Andreas Pereira (Loan – £1m fee)
  • Joel Pereira (free transfer)
  • Brandon Williams (Loan)
  • Axel Tuanzebe (Loan)
  • Facundo Pellistri (Loan)
  • Tahith Chong (Loan)
  • Sergio Romero (out of contract)

Net Spend

Therefore, United had an overall net spend of £98.6m.

Cristiano Ronaldo

The signing of Cristiano Ronaldo is huge for the twenty-time Premier League winners. In his 11 years away from the club, United never genuinely replaced him.

His signing will bring in various qualities. Instantly, his world class goal scoring ability will help United score the goals that in previous years they struggled to. This is illustrated through Ronaldo’s phenomenal record throughout his career, even scoring 31 goals in the Serie A in 2019/20.

All 31 Cristiano Ronaldo Serie A Goals | Season 2019/20 | Serie A TIM – YouTube

The Portuguese’s unique ability in the air and brilliant movement will help push United up the table.

In addition, his presence around the club will improve standards and motivation as he will be seen as a role model for the players to look up to. This will help youngsters like Antony Elanga, Hannibal Mejbri and Shola Shoretire significantly.

Even off the field, commercially, the signing of the five-time Ballon d’or winner will greatly improve United’s external reach. Due to Ronaldo’s international presence and legendary status in football and at the club, fans across the world will flock out to buy United shirts.

Furthermore, more fans will watch games because of him, and increased interest and traffic will be driven up around Manchester United on social media as a result. Thus, subsequently, the signing of Cristiano Ronaldo is a major positive for United, who will hope his quality can take them to the next level.

Raphael Varane

The acquisition of Raphael Varane is a huge upgrade for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men. In previous seasons, Solskjaer has relied upon a partnership of Victor Lindelof and Harry Maguire.

However, this duo despite being an improvement on previous defensive partnerships in Jose Mourinho and Louis Van Gaal’s reign, had clear issues.

Whereas, adding Varane, who will likely slot next to the captain Harry Maguire, provides world class, European level experience.

The former Real Madrid defender has won four Champions League titles. Varane was a major presence in the defence in each of these, forming a formidable partnership with Spanish defender Sergio Ramos.

Thus, the addition of Varane to United’s defence could provide invaluable experience into the back four, through the Frenchman’s own expert abilities, and the reassuring affect he’ll have on the rest of the defence with him in the side.

Jadon Sancho

The completion of the Jadon Sancho transfer will be a relief for fans as much as the United board. After last summer’s catastrophic pursuit of the English winger, United would have wanted to avoid such an embarrassing collapse.

Ultimately, he was brought in through a much smoother approach, for a fee far cheaper than the suspected sum the year prior.

Sancho provides pure quality on the wings. He possesses phenomenal ball control and dribbling, beating defenders with ease.

He combines this was quality attacking output which helped him secure 36 goal contributions from 38 games in his final season in Germany.

United have often lacked that killer instinct and footballing IQ from their wingers in previous seasons, but the signing of Sancho provides these qualities and will considerably improve the United attack.

Tom Heaton

The signing of Tom Heaton, adds vital experience and depth to United’s squad.

On a free transfer, he is a low risk signing which doesn’t hinder United’s budget and keeps the overall squad healthy in case injuries to the goalkeepers occur.

Thus, despite not being the most exciting signing for fans, Heaton is an efficient and necessary addition to the club.

Daniel James

The sale of Daniel James for around £25m is brilliant business by Manchester United.

Since the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson, the structure around United’s incomings and outgoings have been incredibly inefficient.

On many occasions United have been subject to overspending on players who don’t fit the genuine needs of the team, but are signed for commercialistic benefits.

To attract players to the club, the board used a high wage strategy.

Subsequently, due to the inefficiency, players not of Manchester United standard were given huge contracts.

As a result, when United tried to sell players, they struggled to move them on because no other clubs would match such high wages.

Therefore, for United to make just under double the original value they paid for James is an excellent departure. Despite James’ qualities, he ultimately lacked the pure ability to be a starting winger at the club. Thus, moving James on for £25m is very efficient business for United.

Andreas Pereira

The loaning of Andreas Pereira for £1m is inefficient business by United.

Despite the small cash influx, the decision to loan Pereira for yet another season is debatable.

The Brazilian clearly isn’t in Solskjaer’s plans and so a loan is questionable.

As he gets older, Pereira’s value is unlikely to increase and thus United should have just looked to sell the attacking midfielder.

Brandon Williams and Axel Tuanzebe

The loaning of Brandon Williams and Axel Tuanzebe could be successful in raising future funds.

As neither Williams or Tuanzebe can hold down a place in the team, a short move away could help either improve their form and get the back into Solskjaer’s plans, or increase their value for a future sale in summer.

Both players are still young which means that their values won’t drop considerably if the loans are unsuccessful.

These future sales could be used to fund further investment into Solskjaer’s squad, which will improve the overall quality of the team.

Facundo Pellistri and Tahith Chong

Facundo Pellistri and Tahith Chong both have great potential to be longer term options for the first team. Thus, the decision to loan them out is an effective one as it will provide them invaluable playing time and experience, which could significantly improve their ability, making them a more viable asset in future seasons.

Joel Pereira

The releasing of Joel Pereira was a necessary decision as the Portuguese was never good enough to compete with David De Gea, and there was better options available to be second and third choice goalkeepers.

Sergio Romero

Whereas, the decision to let Sergio Romero leave, could be a bad one due to his ability to perform at the highest level when required, even without a lot of game time.

The Argentinian goalkeeper has always performed when United needed him, making him an invaluable back up asset.

Thus, by letting him go, United may struggle to find someone as good who’s willing to be a non-consistent starter.

Dean Henderson has risen up the ranks since his successful loan at Sheffield United, but his eagerness and hunger to start will hinder his ability to be a good back, because he’ll likely want to get first team football and thus may force a move away.


Premier League

After finishing second in the Premier League last season, Solskjaer should be looking to take United one step further.

With the addition of serial winners like Ronaldo and Varane, the belief around the team should rise, which in turn reduces the likelihood that players get overwhelmed by success. Thus, the United board should expect Solskjaer to challenge.

Champions League

After losing the Europa League final to Villareal, United will be hoping to bounce back with a strong Champions League campaign.

Since Solskjaer’s appointment, when in the Champions League, United have failed to make it out of the group on both occasions.

Thus, particularly with the signing of Ronaldo, perceived to be the Champions League king, the United hierarchy will be expecting Solskjaer to guide the Red Devils to at least the round of 16.

In recent years, United have struggled in the competition, failing to get past the Quarter Finals since Ferguson’s retirement. Even with the extra additions, the board wouldn’t expect United to go further than the Quarter finals.

FA Cup

Having lost to Leicester City in the Quarter finals the season before, and Solskjaer’s failure to win any trophies as manager so far, the United board will expect the team to go further this season, in the hope of making the final and potentially winning it.

The FA Cup illustrates a competitive trophy which although not as important as years gone by, is still a great competition to win. Thus, winning this could kickstart the trophy hunt at Old Trafford again.

League Cup

In the 2020/21 season, United were knocked out in the Semi-finals to Manchester City over two legs.

This season, with United desperate for silverware, the board could look to emphasise the importance of this competition. Although the Carabao Cup isn’t the most prestigious tournament, it’s a good foundation for future success, helping teach the youngsters what it means to actually win. Thus, winning either the FA Cup or Carabao Cup could be a priority for United.