Another Premier League season is over. This one brought the fans more fight for the title, with Arsenal leading the race for the majority of the season, but Mikel Arteta’s side fell apart late on, losing all their energy and focus in front of Manchester City’s incredible run-in. Pep Guardiola’s team ended up winning their third consecutive title, and fifth in the last six years. Such domination was only possible under Sir Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United, although back then there were no oil-rich states supporting the clubs with almost unimaginable budgets.
But the end of the campaign deserves a more detailed look into how Man United fared in the past 10 months. Erik Ten Hag took over after a shambolic season in which Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was sacked and Ralf Rangnick was put in the interim role, prior to becoming the consultant to the club, which never actually happened. Man United did strengthen and bring in five players last summer, with only Tyrell Malacia not being the regular starter in the season that unfolded. Considering how many chaotic decisions United made in recent years in terms of new signings and long-term deals given to various players, this was a really good summer transfer window on which the Devils should build this coming summer.
Man United finished the season in third with 75 points, four more than Newcastle in fourth and eight more than Liverpool, who ended up missing out on Champions League football in fifth place. Where United did well was to get the most out of their meager 58 goals scored. A ratio of just 1.53 goals per match was enough for 23 victories and six draws, which sounds even better when we know United conceded 43 goals. However, while 58 goals is something even Brentford managed, 43 goals conceded actually puts the Devils only behind City and Newcastle, who were the only ones with less. All of this was made possible “thanks” to the fact United had won only five matches this season in which they scored at least three goals, but also the fact that 30 per cent of all of their goals conceded came in two matches – the 3-6 against City and 0-7 against Liverpool.
Looking back on this campaign, it feels almost like ancient history that time when Cristiano Ronaldo left the club, amid all the chaos he was creating for Ten Hag and his teammates. That was another complicating factor with which the Dutchman had to put up, solving the issue in a manner which deserved him even more credibility amongst his squad.
Where United will have to do better is in attack, considering there was only Marcus Rashford with reliable goalscoring numbers – 17 in total. After him were Bruno Fernandes with eight and Anthony Martial and Jadon Sancho, both with six. In one season, you can get away with such numbers, but if the step up is to be made in 2023-24, the Devils must improve.
While there were some inexplicable losses, two of which came in the opening two matches, this seeason overall has been quite a good one for Ten Hag’s side. Factor in the fact the team also won the League Cup and is set to play in an FA Cup final on Saturday, and the positivity comes bursting out on its own, ahead of the new season. This campaign which is now behind us has given us enough smaller warnings about the things that should be improved. Now it is up to Ten Hag and the board to strengthen the core once again.