I wanted to wait till after the final to discuss the season overrall, because that final was season defining and would rather make the season good or terrible. And since we won, you can call this season a success. Our main goal was to get back in the champions league, win some silverware and at least show signs of improvement after three underwhelming seasons, and times we did. But before that, let’s look at the performance of our transfers first.
Like many fans, I had no idea who this guy even was. But paying £30m for a guy just mean he is a good player, and surprise, he was excellent. Our biggest mistake last year was not buying another centre back, resulting in playing Blind and Carrick out of position when needed. So Mourinho buying a young, strong, intelligent defender was so good to see. In fact, Bailly was our best centre back by a landslide. He rarely ever had a bad game and losses or draws usually came from the defender next to him not performing. The worst thing about Bailly was Rojo’s injury. We finally thought Bailly had a partner who could perform just as well as he could, but his injury ruined our defense. Rojo not only played exceptional, but made Phil Jones look like a competent defender. Bailly did have some injury troubles, but they were understandable. One from fatigue after playing so many games in a row, and the other from a bad tackle. Bailly has proven he will be our main centre back next season. Now we just need to find someone more experienced and ready to play as a sweeper, so Bailly could have the perfect partner.
Where do you even begin with the king himself? Zlatan arrived as a quick fix and a statement of intent. By signing a player with an ego the size of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, it is clear that united have intentions of challenging and to remind the world that they are still a huge presence in the transfer market, after 2 very underwhelming windows. Zlatan in the end was the perfect short term fix for our biggest issue last season, which was scoring goals. He solved our issue straight away by scoring in a pre season game and in the community shield to win the game for us. He provided us with a vocal point, one we’ve missed since Van Persie was good. But he still had his issues. He had the worst conversation rate for a striker with 12%, which is terrible. A good striker should average roughly 25%, because of the amount of shots they’ll have, so a 1/4 is a good average for a player. Zlatan’s wasn’t close to that. We relied heavily on the big Swede throughout the season, even during games where we should never of played him, like some Europa league games and even Northampton away. If Mourinho didn’t rely on him as much, Rashford would of been banging more goals in and Zlatan wouldn’t of been as tired as he was at some points. But even though I had my issues with him, he still carried us over the line on so many occasions that you can’t argue with his contribution to the team, easily one of our best bits of business in so long.
Mkhi was the player I was so excited to see play for us. Finally a player who would run at players and give us some real creativity. But in the end he was kind of a mixed bag. When he was good, we were fucking amazing and could destroy teams relatively easy, but that wasn’t often enough to me. From that Europa league game against the Dutch champions to roughly March, mkhi was amazing. But during the final stretch of the season, he started to fade in games, and even in the final he wasn’t that involved. But I would still consider him a good signing, only based on the Europa league and occasionally in the league. He was our top scorer and it showed. We relied on him during those away games to do something special, and he did. He is the reason we won that tournament, because his goals gave us that needed advantage in the home legs.
Pogba was easily the most hyped signing for the season, mainly because of that hefty price tag on him. But in all honesty, he has been brilliant this season. One of our biggest concerns going into last summer was our lifeless, slow, defensive midfield. Pogba was the player who would help us going forward and would still work like a midfielder, and he did. Pogba was easily one of our top 5 players this season, next to Zlatan, Herrera, Valencia and Rojo. When Pogba played well, we played well. He was the heartbeat of our team on many occasions. During that Christmas period where we were dominate and actually playing well, (I wonder why) Pogba was playing absolutely brilliant. The games that stand out being the Middlesbrough game, the Watford game and the Sunderland game. But pointing those games out does highlight a problem with Pogba this season. In the so called bigger games, he has failed to show his usual quality. In some aspects, it’s true. The games most point towards are both Chelsea games in Stamford bridge, the man city game and the Liverpool games. I will admit that he was very poor in the Liverpool and Chelsea games, but so were we. It wasn’t like he was the only bad player on the pitch. All of our players were poor in those games. But no one seems to discuss him in two other games. Those being Arsenal and spurs at home, two games where he actually played very good. Pogba is still young and people forget that. He has another 8 years at the top level left. He will improve, and hopefully our strikers will learn how to finish their chances, otherwise he would be battling Dear Bruyne for most assists in the league.
After the signings it seems most fitting to discuss my expectations for the season. I came into this season with the hope of top four, another trophy and at least a title challenge. I thought with the signings, Jose Mourinho and the players we already had, we’d be able to go to the end with whoever else, but I was wrong. We actually tried to win everything and that was our biggest problem. Our fixture schedule was huge and with all the injuries to key players arriving, we ended up having to stop focusing on the premier league because of worries of increasing injuries and fatigue. Our league form wasn’t excellent anyway and does bringing me to the issue i have to talk about.
All the draws
What will stand out the most when remembering this season would be the amount of draws we gathered in games we should of won, and it brings up three issues. A lack of finishing and a lack of midfield threat and a consistent over reliance on Zlatan. When he was fit he was involved in almost half our goals, and that was with a very poor conversion rate. Not enough of our players were scoring goals. Players like Pogba, Martial and Rooney were not scoring chances that any other player would score. Rashford came into life eventually, helping us to that final. But that was because he had to be relied on. The other players put this pressure on our forward. We need to make sure that this isn’t a problem next season. I hope the signings of Griezmann or James Rodriguez or Perisic will add some more goals to the team, then maybe we have a chance of winning the league and maybe more.